A furious motorist has told how the new Clean Air Zone has forced him to move home after being fined £9 every time he left his driveway.
Ian Akers, from Bath, Somerset, is the owner of a camper van which he uses to take long trips or to visit family.
His daily mode of transport is via bike, but in March 2021, a Clean Air Zone was introduced, and Mr Akers' van falls into the category of vehicles required to pay.
Bath's CAZ is a Class C zone, which means means that charges only apply to taxis, private hire vehicles, vans (including pick-ups and some camper vans), light goods vehicles, buses, coaches and heavy goods vehicles that do not meet the required emission standards.
The zones, imposed by the Government, are currently in place in Bath, Birmingham and Portsmouth, with Manchester introducing one in May and Bradford following at some point this year.
Mr Akers told Somerset Live: “I would cycle to work and back every day, I’d cycle to the pub, cycle to meet my mates. I rarely used a vehicle.
“I had saved up to buy my 1999 Mazda Bongo van and then done it up inside, so it was a very personal thing and I had stopped it from going to landfill.
“But it wasn’t compliant with the Clean Air Zone, so every single time I left my house I was fined £9 – which I thought was a bit communist really.
“I couldn’t even drive to see my parents without being charged and you’ve got to remember that we have just had a year of lockdown when you weren’t allowed to see anybody.
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“It was like a heavy weight on my mind every week.”
He did reach out to Bath and North East Somerset Council, but they told him to loan or buy a new van.
The zones were imposed on councils by the Government due to high pollution levels in some areas, leaving councils with little room for manoeuvre, as Manchester Metro Mayor Andy Burnham recently tweeted.
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Mr Akers was offered a grant to help with the cost of a new van, but it did not cover the full cost, which meant that the man had to do into debt to buy a new one.
He eventually moved two miles down the road, and it now costs him “£25 per week” to travel by bus, and he has bought a cheap car.
He now drives the van around the outskirts of the Clean Air Zone.
“My driving has increased by about three times because of the Clean Air Zone – I went from driving nine miles a week to now probably driving 25 miles a week, “he added.
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They could have put some time and effort into improving the buses and the cycle paths.
He also bought an e-bike using the council's Take Charge scheme, giving him a a £100 grant for a deposit on an e-bike, which he now uses to get to work.
He said: “It's just a massive joke – I have still got the van and I drive it around the outskirts of the zone now,”
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