A motorist from Merseyside who ‘couldn’t point Bristol out on a map’ has slammed the city council after being sent a warning letter over Clean Air Zone 2022: What is the CAZ, when does it come into force and how will it affect me?">the incoming Clean Air Zone (CAZ) - despite living 180 miles away. Several drivers have received letters warning them that they need to change vehicle to avoid paying daily charges despite them never visiting the city.
Ian Hughes, a Merseyside landlord, received a letter from the authority warning that his vehicle did not meet the CAZ criteria. Mr Hughes was then advised that his registration plate could have been cloned, so he contacted Merseyside Police and Avon and Somerset Police, and the DVLA. After more than five hours he learned that it was infact down to a camera error.
And after Bristol City Council issued a statement saying Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras might have misread the numberplate, Mr Hughes says he is now claiming £300 in compensation for the time he’s spent trying to sort the issue out.
“I couldn’t point Bristol out on a map if you asked me to, I’ve never been and there’s no chance I will be visiting any time soon,” Mr Hughes said.
“The people running the city have wasted my time and I want to be compensated for the time off work I’ve wasted trying to sort out their mistake. The DVLA told me the cameras were faulty, leading to others around the country receiving the same letter - which is designed to look like a fine and could give someone a fright when it comes through the door.
“I spent hours on Friday (November 4) trying to speak with someone at the council but could not get through to anyone. They hide behind layers and layers of ‘press one, press two, go to the website’ rather than dealing with the mess they have made - there is no accountability. They couldn’t run a tea party.”
Another driver told Bristol World she had never been to Bristol but also received a letter. She travelled to a DVLA office in Swansea to find out why she had been warned of Bristol’s CAZ, and has also requested the council pay her compensation for the money spent on fuel.
Bristol City Council has been sending letters out to the registered owners of vehicles which don’t meet the CAZ’s emission standards ahead of the scheme launch on November 28. The vehicles are picked up by ANPR camears on the edge of the zone.
The letters warn the vehicle owners that they will face a fine unless they either change their vehicle or pay the £9 fee. The zone stretches from Bedminster to Clifton to St Pauls to Totterdown. Main entrances include Bridge Valley Road and East Street in Bedminster. Map and entrance points can be viewed by clicking here.
The city council originally denied that their cameras were faulty before issuing a statement, which said: “It's possible that the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras set up to monitor traffic in the Clean Air Zone misread your registration number. If you weren't in Bristol in September, ignore the letter.”