Shabana has written to the Government calling for a delay to Clean Air Zone implementation in Birmingham.
In her letter to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice MP, Shabana highlights her previous support of Birmingham City Council’s proposal to pause CAZ implementation in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Shabana restates her commitment to the principle of the CAZ, but questions its viability in the current economic climate.
Shabana proposes that officials from Birmingham City Council and the Government review its status on a quarterly basis, to appraise the economic impact of its implementation, and on the most disadvantaged communities in Birmingham.
You can read her letter in full below.
Letter to the Secretary of State
Dear Secretary of State,
I am writing regarding plans for Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ), further to correspondence sent to your Department on 24 March 2020.
In March, I wrote to you supporting Birmingham City Council’s proposal to delay CAZ implementation. I agreed that Covid-19 was having an impact on the economy of the city, as businesses were rightly focussed on supporting and retaining their existing employees, and making changes to prepare for new ways of working.
At the time, I wholeheartedly supported calls from Birmingham City Council to postpone the launch. It was the right thing to do for my constituents, their families and businesses, and the city of Birmingham. I am now writing to ask that you issue a further direction to support the delay of the CAZ.
Over the past three months our economy has drastically changed. In line with Government guidance, some businesses are now beginning the process of opening their doors to customers and returning employees to their place of work. However, as the furlough and other business support schemes are tapered off over the coming months, it is likely that we will see formerly thriving businesses continue to struggle to make ends meet. At this critical time, as businesses find themselves fighting for survival, it would be wrong to ask them to upgrade their vehicle fleets, or to ask their customers to pay to drive their vehicles into the city centre.
The introduction of a Clean Air Zone for Birmingham will be transformative for our environment and for our economy. Introduced correctly, it will be a massive force for good: changing the way we live and work, and greatly improving the quality of the air we breathe. Its eventual rollout will be a key plank of the green recovery agenda our city desperately needs post-Covid. In fact, I’ve always believed that the Government could go further with its support package, stimulating mass movements towards green technology and increasing public transport provision in the city.
I’ve supported the principle of the CAZ from the start, but I do not believe at this time of global pandemic it is an economically viable proposition for our city and its people. Given that the people of Birmingham were informed that the introduction of the CAZ would be preceded by an announcement sixth months prior to is live date, I firmly believe that the CAZ should be delayed to at least Summer 2021. I have also shared this position with Councillor Waseem Zaffar, Cabinet Member for Transport at Birmingham City Council.
At the present stage, we simply cannot move forward and put our economic recovery at risk. It is clear that our most disadvantaged and vulnerable communities will need further support in advance of the rollout. It is right that there is further pause to reflect on this policy in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In order to ensure that the CAZ implementation remains on the agenda, I propose that officials from Birmingham City Council and the Government review its status on a quarterly basis, with a proper appraisal of the economic impact of its implementation, and that on our most disadvantaged communities, considering the Covid-19 recovery. I urge the Government to work alongside Birmingham City Council to make it viable, and to ensure that its eventual implementation is a success.
I would be grateful if the Department could issue any further Ministerial direction reflecting a position of delaying CAZ implementation. I will be sharing a copy of this letter with Cabinet Members at Birmingham City Council.
Shabana Mahmood MP