Bristol Clean Air Zone: suicide prevention charity warns it may ‘refuse city centre call outs’ due charges

Bristol’s Clean Air Zone comes into effect on Monday (November 28)

<p>Suicide Prevention Bristol could be forced to refuse call outs inside the city centre due to the Clean Air Zone charges.</p>

Suicide Prevention Bristol could be forced to refuse call outs inside the city centre due to the Clean Air Zone charges.

Suicide Prevention Bristol has launched a petition calling on Bristol City Council to lift daily Clean Air Zone (CAZ) charges for charities and volunteers operating within the zone. Founder, Michael Everett fears that the prospect of paying daily £9 charges to operate within the CAZ could leave the charity “no choice but to refuse some call-outs”.

The charity estimates that it faces more than £6,000 in charges if it continues to operate two vehicles within the CAZ, which is due to begin on Monday (November 28). Bristol City Council does offer financial support to some impacted by the CAZ, including residents, small businesses and some charities - up to £6,000 in interest-free loans to charities. However, many have been hesitant to lumber themselves with this debt during a cost of living crisis.

Mr Everett said: “Sadly, without being able to cover this cost, we will be left with no choice but to refuse some call-outs in the city centre due to the costs. We currently find most of our call-outs are too high-risk locations in and around the city centre.”

Suicide Prevention Bristol’s petition states: “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the current cost of living crisis, it should be clear to Bristol Council that volunteers have propped up the city, not only by keeping the most vulnerable safe and well during this time but doing this all with very limited financial support from the council. Charity workers have taken a massive weight off Bristol City Council’s shoulders for all the incredible work they have been doing.

“Bristol City council has introduced this clean air zone in the city, and the volunteers that are supporting the most vulnerable are no longer going to be able to afford to get in and out of the city. We are also aware of local homeless charities that rely on getting around the city centre to be able to feed the homeless are going to be in a further significant financial struggle.”

The charity has set up a GoFundMe fundraiser to continue providing the emergency assistance and patrols it conducts to help save people’s lives. A target of £6,046 has been set, with £375 raised at the moment (November 23).

Other charities have noted the negative impact the CAZ charges will have. Homeless charity, Helping Homeless Believe told Bristol World the prospect of paying the £9 fees means it may not be able to continue providing regular food and shelter for more than 50 rough sleepers in the city centre area.

The charity’s founder, Hayley Jennings stressed the impact the zone would have on volunteers - Suicide Prevention Bristol’s petition calls for CAZ charges for volunteers to also be waived.

Suicide Prevention Bristol volunteers on patrol.

Jennings said: “I do not know how long we (Helping Homeless Believe) can continue to help those who need us if we do not secure another van before the zone comes in. We also face volunteers, people who are giving up their Saturday evenings for free, not being able to help because the combination of rising fuel, rising parking charges and a daily congestion charge are too much.”

Currently, the petition has more than 75 signatures. To sign the ePetition, visit https://democracy.bristol.gov.uk/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?ID=258&RPID=21692540&HPID=21692540