Bristow & Sutor support first clean air zones outside of London
Bristow & Sutor, one of the UK’s leading players specialising in debt recovery, has extended its debt recovery support of Bath and North East Somerset Council to assist with a new clean air zone. Since March this year, some high emission vehicles have been required to pay to drive in central Bath, in an attempt to tackle harmful pollution levels. Those who do not pay the zone charge within 7 days of driving in the zone may have to pay a fine. Ignoring the resulting PCN will see cases passed to Bristow & Sutor for recovery.
Clean air zones are designed to drive down harmful nitrogen dioxide emissions in high traffic areas and aim to improve the health of residents and the general environment. It is hoped these schemes will encourage upgrading to less polluting vehicles or promote the use of public transport, walking and cycling. The clean air zone that has been installed in Bath is a Class–C charging CAZ, which means private motorists will not be charged. Advanced signage has been installed at key points as well as at entry and exit, to give sufficient warning to drivers approaching the zone.
The debt recovery process for a non-payment of a penalty charge notice is the same as any other unpaid PCN and enforcement firms can use the same techniques and existing powers to encourage communication and the settlement of an outstanding debt. An initial period of warning notices is often advised when new restrictions are put in place, ensuring that new rules are understood and communicated, something that Bath and North East Somerset Council has taken extremely seriously.
Local businesses that see their fleets affected can currently apply for financial support to upgrade to cleaner vehicles, which would avoid the ongoing need to pay charges. Exemptions are also available for certain vehicle types and circumstances. Anyone who wishes to know if they need to pay can find out quickly and easily by visiting the government vehicle checker website.
Bristow & Sutor already assist Transport for London (TfL) with the recovery of debts related to low-emission zones and create bespoke reports on warrants for local authority clients. While Bath was the first zone outside of London, many other authorities are being directed by Government to consider similar solutions to tackle air quality and are at various stages of implementation. By supporting schemes in London, Bath and most recently Birmingham, who went live with their scheme on 1st June 2021, Bristow & Sutor has gained the unique experience of being involved in the collections process for the first three local authorities to implement new clean air zones. Paul Kyte, Market Development Manager says, “Providing enforcement related to clean air zones is something we are very pleased to be involved in as this is indicative of own commitments and values. We have worked hard as a business to reduce our carbon footprint in recent times through route optimisation and compliance monitoring and will be looking to do even more in this space in future.
“We expect to see more local authorities with low-emission zones and our experience of the different challenges this presents will provide invaluable insight. The needs of modern and historic cities and towns can be quite different, resulting in different categories, rules and restrictions. But the need to pay an outstanding debt remains the same and we are ready and on-hand to support local authorities whenever this need arises.”