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Birmingham's Clean Air Zone - All Stick and No Carrot!
Cllr Timothy Huxtable of the Birmingham Conservatives gives us his view on the controversial vehicle charge in Birmingham City Centre.
Counter Cut’s content this month is sponsored by The New Talbot.
We all want to breathe cleaner air with less pollution. Unfortunately, all Birmingham Labour’s Travel Tax, otherwise known as the Clean Air Zone (CAZ), introduced in 2021 has done is to charge many people - many of whom currently have no choice but to drive into and through the City Centre for work (like late night shift workers) - and heightened the cost of living crisis.
Indeed, one year on, many of the transition arrangements (e.g. for low income workers and residents) have now come to an end.
The hefty charges of the CAZ have put people off travelling into the City Centre for leisure, shopping and work and businesses have re-located to outside the City Centre and outside of Birmingham to avoid their customers and workers from being charged.
While air pollution has decreased within the CAZ, it has also decreased by EXACTLY the same amount outside the CAZ. It could therefore be reasonably concluded that the CAZ charge for drivers has had no effect on air pollution, and the change in air pollution levels has come about by a mixture of less car travel because of the pandemic, less car travel because of high fuel costs and of more modern, cleaner vehicles.
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The Birmingham Conservative’s alternative plan includes more greenery such as “City Trees”  & “Living Walls”  and open spaces to reduce any pollutants from the air, along with a huge expansion in Park & Ride facilities to encourage more journeys into town by public transport. These measures would not only reduce congestion along our main arterial routes at peak times, but also clean the air for us all to breathe without choking the life out of our City Centre.
The only real attempts in recent years to improve public transport in Birmingham and encourage modal shift from cars to more sustainable forms of transport have come from Andy Street, the Elected Mayor for the West Midlands, and his Transport Plan, which has funded:
Upgrades to the railway stations at University and Perry Barr;
New electric buses based at the Yardley Wood depot;
Metro extensions from New Street to Edgbaston Village via Westside;
An expanded Park & Ride at Longbridge; and
And which will:
Re-open three suburban railways stations along the Camp Hill line (Moseley Village, Kings Heath and Pineapple Road);
Introduce Zero Emission Buses along key routes to/from the City Centre; and
Create a new bus and transport interchange in Sutton Coldfield
Conservative Councillors will continue to press for action to deliver better transport options, cleaner air and breathe life into our City Centre’s economy and jobs while opposing Labour’s Travel Tax that hit those drivers least able to pay the hardest.
Written by Cllr Timothy Huxtable
Cllr Huxtable (Cons, Hall Green South) is the Shadow Cabinet Member for Transport on Birmingham City Council
 City Trees have awesome power to protect our environment – equal to 275 trees in the ground. They are also mobile and so can be moved around pollution hot spots and generate revenue through sponsorship
 Living Walls have been proved to reduce up to 40% of pollutants from the air – and will spruce up the view of the journey in/from the City Centre
Counter Cut’s content this month is sponsored by The New Talbot. Enjoy traditional curries, mixed grills and speciality starters that you won’t find elsewhere. Enjoy an extensive range of drinks from draught beers to delicious cocktails.
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