Tory fury at latest clean air zone delay

Leader calls for controversial charge to be scrapped.

The Conservative opposition on Birmingham city council has hit out at the latest delay to the Clean Air Zone originally due to be introduced at the start of the year.

Commenting on the recent announcement that implementation of the charging zone will be delayed until six months after the vehicle checker website has been fixed, Conservative group leader Cllr Robert Alden (Erdington) said: “It is no surprise that Labour have taken the opportunity to delay implementation of their controversial travel tax, given that regardless of problems with the national vehicle checking website, they are not in a position to go ahead anyway because of their own highly predictable procurement and project management failings.

“Just this Monday the Conservative group were successful in calling-in a decision to procure software to manage the mitigation’s for the tax, something which should have been sorted months ago but that the council left until the last minute and then proceeded with a procurement process that was highly dubious and, in our view, unlawful.

“This ‘procurement’ was done without any competition and without any evidence of the necessary authorisations that would exempt them from procurement regulations. Then at Cabinet the next day they were still finalising the business case for a fund for heavy duty vehicles, despite the fact this was all supposed to be ready to ‘go live’ on 1st January”.

The Conservative leader went on to say, “It is absolutely right that everyone should be given sufficient time to be able to check their vehicles for compliance and take appropriate action but it is also clear that this provides the council a convenient excuse to hide their own failings, as well as try to provide cover for the Cabinet Member’s ill-judged advice to the public to rely on the Transport for London checker when making purchasing decisions.

“While we welcome the delay, of course the simplest and fairest option remains cancelling the travel tax altogether and implementing the Conservative group’s plan for Clean Air which would avoid the negative impact on the least well off as well the damage to public health caused by pushing pollution out from the city centre to residential areas around the ring road.”