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Birmingham Clean Air Zone map, zone, and when to pay as charges are introduced

The Clean Air Zone charges are due to start on Monday
The Clean Air Zone charges are due to start on Monday

The council initiative aims to improve air quality in the city centre and discourage drivers – particularly those in high-polluting vehicles – from entering the heart of Birmingham[1].

However, that has now come to an end, meaning charges will now be enforced.

Birmingham Clean Air Zone map

Birmingham Clean Air Zone map

Every road inside the A4540 Middleway ring road is included.

The Middleway, which encircles Birmingham city centre, is not included, but the A38 and its tunnels are, along with areas such as New Street, Digbeth, Lee Bank and Ladywood.

Affected postcodes include B1, B10, B12, B15, B16, B18, B19, B2, B3, B4, B5, B6, B7 and B9.

More than 300 signs have been put up around the area to tell motorists when they are entering the zone, while 67 Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras will read registration plates of vehicles entering and leaving.

Those with high-polluting vehicles will have to pay due to the higher levels of nitrogen dioxide emitted.

That includes anyone with diesel vehicles built before 2015 and petrol models built prior to 2006, along with electric, hydrogen fuel cell and hybrid electric vehicles.

The charges are:

  • Cars, taxis and vans – £8

  • Buses, coaches and HGVs – £50

More than 300 Clean Air Zone warning signs have been put up around Birmingham

More than 300 Clean Air Zone warning signs have been put up around Birmingham

The fees renew at midnight each day (so if someone enters the zone at 11.50pm and leave 20 minutes later at 12.10am, they will have to pay for two days). However, motorists can enter the zone as many times as they like each day, and not have to pay for each journey.

There is no discount for entering each day, meaning a car driver could pay up to £40 per five-day working week, while lorry drivers could face a £250 bill over the same period.

The charges operate seven days a week, 365 days a year.

It will be the driver’s responsibility to pay as alerts will not be sent out (the only warning is from roadside signs).

Motorists can pay on the Government clean air zone website or by calling the Government’s clean air zone team on 03000 298888.

Drivers have a 13-day payment window; six days before travel, on the day, or six days after.

Anyone who doesn’t pay within that time frame faces a £120 fine, which will be reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days of it arriving in the post.

Money raised will go towards funding sustainable transport measures, such as walking and cycling routes and public transport.

Middleway marks the edge of the Clean Air Zone, but is not included

Middleway marks the edge of the Clean Air Zone, but is not included

Emergency and armed forces vehicles won’t have to pay, along with some commercial vehicles operating at businesses within the zone. City centre firms can also apply for temporary permits for a maximum of two vehicles.

Some residents inside the zone, or commuters travelling in, can apply for a temporary exemption and/or financial incentives if they earn under £30,000 a year.

These incentives, such as money towards a cleaner car, can be applied via brumbreathes.co.uk[2].

People travelling for certain medical appointments can also apply for an exemption.

References

  1. ^ Birmingham (www.expressandstar.com)
  2. ^ brumbreathes.co.uk (www.brumbreathes.co.uk)

How endless HGV traffic is ruining the best place to live in Wales

If you’re looking for a town to enjoy a splendid walk and a locally-sourced latte then you’ll struggle to find a better spot than Usk.

In fact if you go by the Sunday Times’ Best Place to Live[1] guide you won’t find a better spot in the whole of Wales than the quaint Monmouthshire town.

There is a farmers’ market and plenty of independent shops and galleries as well as cafes vying to produce the best fare using local produce. And there’s nothing like enjoying all that goodness in the glorious afternoon sunshine while a 34-tonne articulated lorry chugs down the pavement towards you. Right?

Sometimes you might even get a clout around the ear while you’re walking down the town’s Bridge Street or while taking in the view from the bridge over the river.

“I have been hit multiple times,” said Kathryn Challenger, who has lived in the area all her life – moving from house to house in the same street. “But it gets worse – they come straight over the bridge here and crash into the walls,” she explains from her home directly opposite the bridge. “It’s dangerous and can be quite scary.”

Kathryn Challenger, who has lived in Usk all her life, said she has often been hit by lorries while walking over the bridge
Kathryn Challenger, who has lived in Usk all her life, said she has often been hit by lorries while walking over the bridge (Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)
Bridge Street in Usk, where lorries are cramming through the town again as pandemic restrictions have eased
Bridge Street in Usk, where lorries are cramming through the town again as pandemic restrictions have eased (Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)

We wait for what feels like five minutes to cross the road at the end of the bridge while two 30-tonne lorries carrying chickens pass by as well as three other equally large vehicles. As they pass the traffic comes to a standstill while the lorries try not to hit each other, the sides of the bridge, and even people’s homes.

Kathryn points: “Look at this one. There are chickens in there. Just a couple of weeks ago one like that went straight into the wall. Sometimes they don’t even realise they’ve done it. But imagine if someone had been walking there.”

The town actually has a ban on lorries coming through that weigh more than 7.5 tonnes – brought in more than 40 years ago after protests over environmental concerns, but issues remain – and residents believe it is due to poor enforcement. Difficulties pinpointing banned vehicles arise because some lorries that are over the weight limit are allowed through Usk to deliver goods.

“Some of them that do come over are ridiculous,” Kathryn added. “I think half of them aren’t allowed to be here – but what can we do?”

There are alternative routes. Lorry drivers could get off at the A449 at Raglan and travel via the A40 or head to the Coldra roundabout.

Residents pointed out that earlier in the pandemic when temporary traffic lights were used at the town’s main Bridge Street road to help social distancing on the narrow pavements – causing traffic pile-ups – considerably fewer lorries used the town as a “rat run”.

The bridge over the Usk in the town centre
The bridge over the Usk in the town centre (Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)

Liam Ellis, who drives a 34-tonne truck from Raglan transporting straw to farmers, said he is allowed to travel through Usk, but regularly receives abuse when he reaches Bridge Street – with some motorists refusing to move out of his way in protest.

“It’s not pleasant at all,” he said. “Sometimes I find myself waiting to be shouted at. There is clearly a problem because we’re allowed to drive through there but Usk is an absolute nightmare to drive through. But for me it’s the only logical route to get to my customers.

“A solution could be a separate foot bridge adjacent to the existing bridge so the road at the bridge can be widened for vehicles and people aren’t walking across there. I know it can’t carry on like this. Something needs to be done but I don’t know what the best solution is.”

What are the biggest issues in your area? Check out what people are flagging up and report your own using this handy tool:

There are regular instances of lorries meeting at particularly narrow points in the road before incidents of road rage inevitably ensue. Lorries have also been entangled in scaffolding while resident Angela Colclough said she has seen vehicles “destroy hanging baskets” from the front of people’s homes.

“It’s ridiculous really and it can get you down at times,” she said. “Slowing the vehicles down might discourage them. Perhaps we could do with some speed bumps. The clear answer is another road around the town but I don’t think that will happen now. Why don’t they fine them heavily? If there is no punishment for banned lorries it’ll keep happening.”

Angela Colclough
Angela Colclough (Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)
Lorries meeting at Bridge Street, which residents and traders say is very common and is dangerous
Lorries meeting at Bridge Street, which residents and traders say is very common and is dangerous (Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)
Bridge Street in Usk, where lorries above the 7.5-tonne weight limit are actually banned unless they're delivering to businesses
Bridge Street in Usk, where lorries above the 7.5-tonne weight limit are actually banned unless they’re delivering to businesses (Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)

Gwent Police said they would only be able to issue fines if they caught a vehicle going across a limit-restricted bridge and then took the vehicle to a weighbridge to find out how much it was over the restriction.

A group of residents and councillors set up a ‘lorry watch’ scheme intended to report banned vehicles to Monmouthshire County Council’s trading standards team but they said they’ve had minimal success in getting banned vehicles punished and have turned attention to “discouraging rather than preventing”.

Councillor Alec Leathwood, who helps run the scheme and was one of the first to get the weight limit introduced in the town more than 40 years ago, said: “I remember lying in the road in protest all those years ago. We’ve been battling for a long time but we’re still stuck with it.

“We had quite a few volunteers but people got fed up because vehicles were being reported and then not much was getting done. We’ve now accepted that there seems to be no way to keep heavy-goods vehicles out but we can discourage them.

“We try to do that by being visible while identifying vehicles that have no right to be here and by campaigning for changes to the road to make drivers aware they’re coming into a very different area. We could also do with better signage so lorry drivers know what the restrictions are well before they get to Usk – not when it’s too late.

“We just hope there isn’t a major incident. Fortunately, so far, we’ve got away with it.”

There is signage around the town warning lorry drivers about the weight limit but councillor Alec Leathwood said there needs to be better signage on the way into Usk
There is signage around the town warning lorry drivers about the weight limit but councillor Alec Leathwood said there needs to be better signage on the way into Usk (Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)
It's a common sight in Usk
It’s a common sight in Usk (Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)
There are also weight limit signs at the car parks in the town
There are also weight limit signs at the car parks in the town (Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)

A spokesman for Monmouthshire council said: “There is advanced warning of the weight restriction on the A466 and A4042 so we would anticipate the majority of HGVs travelling through the town would have a requirement to do so – or are contravening the restriction in the full knowledge of their actions.”

Martin Sholl, the joint owner of Number 49 tea room in Bridge Street, said he’s noticed HGV traffic increasing significantly in recent weeks as lockdown restrictions eased. Authorised lorries that are above the weight limit deliver to the business but he said a balance needs to be struck.

“[Bridge Street] is back to being full again and the challenge we have is when two meet and the wing mirrors are well over the pavement either side,” he said. “It doesn’t just cause traffic issues – we’ve had people hit by them. The issue is this road is used as a thoroughfare and that is unlikely to change until there is better enforcement.”

Martin Sholl
Martin Sholl (Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)
Lorry drivers have called for the bridge to be widened by removing the pavement and having a separate foot bridge
Lorry drivers have called for the bridge to be widened by removing the pavement and having a separate foot bridge (Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)

He said he “isn’t convinced” the majority of lorries that pass through are authorised. “Many vehicles that come through from Blackwood don’t stop in Usk – they use it as a shortcut to the M50,” he added. “I’ve taken photos of some lorries and you just think to yourself: ‘My goodness, you should not be here’.”

Lynne Morgan at Bunnings of Usk builders’ merchants said: “I don’t think there was any point in the [weight limit] ban in the first place. We need the deliveries and I can’t see a solution that pleases everyone.”

References

  1. ^ Best Place to Live (www.walesonline.co.uk)

Road safety campaigner dedicates MBE to eight-year-old son who was killed in motorway crash

A road safety campaigner has dedicated her MBE[1] to the memory of her eight-year-old son who died in a crash on a smart motorway. 

Meera Naran’s son Dev was killed in May 2018 after a lorry hit his grandfather’s car on the hard shoulder of the M6 which was being used by moving traffic.

Since his death, Ms Naran, who is from Leicester, has dedicated her time to improving the smart motorway system and played a key role in the government’s new 18-point safety plan.

She also helped with updates to the Highway Code around motorway driving and successfully lobbied the government for a £5million road education campaign – the first phase of which has been rolled out.

Her MBE was for her services to road safety.

She told the BBC: “I’m accepting this in the memory of my son, Dev, and for me it’s about continuing to focus on my campaign, which is safer drivers on safer roads.

“The first person I actually wanted to tell was Dev and it was so hard because he’s not here.

“We were always each other’s cheerleaders – it’s really hard.”

She said that she was “honoured and humbled” for her hard work to be recognised “especially in memory of Dev”. 

“Grief is all-consuming…and it is devastating. If allowed, it can consume you. But I always believed in turning that into something positive by helping to save the lives of others. That’s what keeps me going,” Ms Naran said in a statement posted by De Montfort University[3] where she is a Senior Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacy.

“My campaigning voice has been motivated by all the unspent love I have for Dev. If he was here, he would be getting all that love. It would be his. But instead, I am using it for road safety.”

Reflecting on her campaigning she explained that it was her “determination” from the very beginning which helped her push for changes. 

However, Ms Naran said: “I’m just really pleased it has got me where we are today, but obviously it comes with the sadness of losing my baby.

She added: “Until we achieve zero deaths, I will not be able to say that I have succeeded.”

A smart motorway is a section of a motorway that uses traffic management methods to increase capacity and reduce congestion in busy areas.

These methods could include utilising the hard shoulder as a running lane and using variable speed limits to control the flow of traffic.

But there have been questions over their safety after fatal accidents involving stationary cars being hit from behind.

In April the government announced that no more smart motorways without hard shoulders will be able to open without additional safety measures put in place. 

June 12: Lockdown lifting delay likely; Delta cases double every 4.5 days; Hottest day of the year; Queen’s quip – Car Dealer Magazine

Johnson poised to delay Covid lockdown lifting to July

Boris Johnson looks set to delay the final lifting of coronavirus lockdown restrictions in England following another sharp rise in cases of the Delta variant.

Ministers are considering putting back the relaxing of controls planned for June 21 for up to four weeks as they race to roll out the vaccine to younger age groups.

A final decision is expected to be taken tomorrow ahead of a formal announcement by the Prime Minister at a news conference the following day.

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Delta variant cases doubling every 4.5 days in parts of England

Cases of the Indian variant are estimated to be doubling every four and a half days in parts of England, new data suggests.

Public Health England said that 42,323 cases of the Delta variant have been confirmed in the UK, up by 29,892 from last week.

Growth rates for Delta cases are high across all parts of the country, it added, with regional estimates for doubling time ranging from 4.5 days to 11.5 days.

Football fans to enjoy hottest day of year as temperatures approach 30C

Football fans will enjoy the hottest day of the year so far this weekend, with temperatures hitting highs of 29C (84.2F).

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The mercury will soar on Sunday afternoon, just as England take on Croatia, potentially making it the warmest June 13 on record.

Parts of the UK will be hotter than holiday destinations in Ibiza, Mykonos and even California due to a high pressure moving in from the south. 

Covid-19 vaccine pioneers celebrated in Queen’s Birthday Honours list

The life-saving work of Covid-19 vaccine design and delivery is celebrated in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, with a host of awards going to the experts who transformed the UK’s pandemic response.

Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine mastermind Professor Sarah Gilbert and the ex-chair of the UK vaccine taskforce Kate Bingham are both recognised with damehoods.

Elsewhere, Manchester City footballer Raheem Sterling is made an MBE for services to racial equality in sport amid controversy over England fans booing players taking the knee.

Road safety campaigner dedicates MBE to son who died in smart motorway accident

A road safety campaigner has dedicated her MBE to her eight-year-old son who was killed in a smart motorway collision.

Meera Naran said the first person she wanted to tell about her award was her son, Dev, who died after a lorry struck his grandfather’s Toyota Yaris on the M6 in May 2018.

Naran, from Leicester, has been awarded an MBE for her services to road safety after playing an instrumental role in the development and adoption of the government’s £500m 18-point road safety plan for smart motorways.

Former Lloyds boss knighted after turning around bank’s fortunes

The former boss of Lloyds Banking Group who steered the lending giant back into private ownership after its financial crisis bailout has received a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Antonio Horta-Osorio is recognised for his services to the financial sector, as well as his voluntary work for mental healthcare and culture.

Friday’s Car Dealer headlines you may have missed

Queen’s quip puts G7 leaders at ease at evening reception

The Queen has asked the question possibly on the mind of every G7 world leader – ‘Are you supposed to be looking as if you’re enjoying yourself?’

Known for her wit, used to put nervous guests at ease, the Queen’s quip came as presidents and prime ministers smiled for the camera during a photo after an evening reception.

The Queen hosted an open-air reception at the Eden Project in Cornwall and was joined by the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Parkrun events scheduled to return in England from June 26

Parkrun events could return in England from June 26, the organisation has said.

The free 5k Saturday morning event was due to restart on Saturday June 5, however parkrun said only about 250 of the 589 venues which had previously hosted the events had given permission for them to return.

But the organisation said yesterday that more than 500 events now have ‘full landowner permission to return’ before the end of the month.

Lawgistics on the Car Dealer Podcast

Sajid Javid seeks to raise the minimum age for marriage to 18

The legal minimum age to get married in England and Wales could be raised to 18 under backbench legislation being tabled by former chancellor Sajid Javid.

Javid said he will be introducing a private member’s Bill next week to protect vulnerable teenagers from religious and cultural pressures to marry too young.

Currently 16-year-olds may marry if they have the consent of their parents.

Holiday prices slashed in amber destinations

Holidaymakers can make huge savings if they choose a destination on the government’s amber list, new figures show.

Average prices for breaks in Portugal in July or August fell by 64 per cent in the week after the government moved the country from green to amber.

Seven-night family package breaks during the school holidays are available from as little as £180 per person. People returning to the UK from amber destinations must self-isolate at home for 10 days and shouldn’t be travelling there for holidays.

Lockdown easing sees economy grow

The easing of lockdown restrictions in April helped the UK economy grow at its fastest rate since July 2020.

The Office for National Statistics said gross domestic product was up 2.3 per cent in April although it remains below pre-pandemic levels. In July last year the economy grew 7.3 per cent.

Non-essential retailers, including car dealers, drove much of the growth as they welcomed customers back into stores from April 12 in England, with clothes stores seeing a boost of 69.4 per cent.

Heathrow passenger numbers 90 per cent below pre-pandemic levels

Heathrow’s passenger numbers are languishing at 90 per cent below pre-pandemic levels, the UK’s busiest airport said.

Just 675,000 people travelled through the west London airport last month, compared with 6,769,000 in May 2019.

Naked wines’ sales fizz as alcohol home deliveries soar

With pubs shut for much of the year, online drink orders from Naked Wines have soared, the company has announced.

Bosses at the home delivery business said sales in the 12 months to March 29 jumped 68 per cent to £340.2m.

But despite the boost in sales, losses widened as the company focused on expansion to tap into the growing market. Pre-tax losses hit £10.7m compared to £5.4m a year earlier.

Halfords set to see profits almost double as public transport ditched for bikes

Halfords’ profits are set to almost double for the past year after people shunned public transport in favour of bikes and cars during the pandemic.

The cycling and motoring specialist is set for another bumper trading announcement when it updates company shareholders on Thursday.

It is expected to reveal a pre-tax profit between £90m and £100m for the year to the end of April. The bumper profit, which will also take into account the £10.7m it is repaying in furlough, compares with a £52.6m profit for the previous year.

FTSE climbs to month high after rebound in UK GDP

London’s markets made a strong finish to the week as the FTSE 100 floated to a month high after traders welcomed evidence that the economy rebounded in April.

The FTSE 100 closed 45.88 points higher, or 0.65 per cent, at 7,134.06 yesterday.

The German Dax increased by 0.78 per cent and the French Cac moved 0.83 per cent higher.

McLaren Racing set to enter Extreme E in 2022

McLaren Racing has announced that it will be fielding a car in next year’s Extreme E event.

The electric off-road series ‘aims to use racing to promote sustainability and diversity’ while highlighting the effects of climate change on some of the world’s most remote environments.

McLaren’s decision to enter the series ties in with the firm’s own sustainability plans, which have seen it commit to reducing its carbon emissions.

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Sizzling summer weekend 

Today, England and Wales will have plenty of sunshine, says the BBC. Eastern Scotland will be partly cloudy and dry. Elsewhere, it will remain mostly cloudy with the chance of the odd spot of rain.

Tonight, cloud is expected to thicken across the Northern Isles and north-western areas, with patchy drizzle in western Scotland and rain in Shetland. Elsewhere will continue dry with clear spells.

Tomorrow, it will be dry and sunny for most, but a band of rain will push into far northwestern areas. Very warm and humid across much of England and Wales.

Road safety campaigner dedicates her MBE to her son, eight

Road safety campaigner dedicates her MBE to her son, eight, who was killed when a lorry hit his grandfather’s car on a smart motorway

  • Meera Naran, 37, dedicated MBE to son, 8, who was killed on smart motorway
  • Launched crusade after Dev died when lorry struck grandfather’s car in 2018
  • She played key role in development of 18-point safety plan for smart motorways 

A road safety campaigner has dedicated her MBE to her eight-year-old son who was killed on a smart motorway.

Meera Naran, 37, played a key role in the development of the Government’s £500million 18-point safety plan for smart motorways.

She also helped update the Highway Code around motorway driving and successfully campaigned for the Government’s road education drive.

Mrs Naran, from Leicester, launched her crusade after her son, Dev, died when a lorry struck his grandfather’s car on the M6 in May 2018.

Meera Naran, 37, played a key role in the development of the Government’s £500million 18-point safety plan for smart motorways after her son, Dev, eight, died when a lorry struck his grandfather's car on the M6 in May 2018

Meera Naran, 37, played a key role in the development of the Government’s £500million 18-point safety plan for smart motorways after her son, Dev, eight, died when a lorry struck his grandfather's car on the M6 in May 2018

Meera Naran, 37, played a key role in the development of the Government’s £500million 18-point safety plan for smart motorways after her son, Dev, eight, died when a lorry struck his grandfather’s car on the M6 in May 2018

‘I’m accepting this in the memory of my son, Dev, and for me it’s about continuing to focus on my campaign, which is safer drivers on safer roads,’ she said.

‘I’ve chosen to use my grief to change it into something positive and save the lives of others. It’s my purpose and it keeps me going.’

Her honour comes amid concern over smart motorways following several fatal accidents. 

References

  1. ^ Daily Mail Reporter (www.dailymail.co.uk)

Dramatic footage of major crash shows how quickly things can go wrong

Here’s a rather scary situation that, sadly, many drivers will face at least once in their lifetime. We present this dramatic video here for a few reasons, not the least of which being the camera’s proximity to the events. It’s about as close as you can get to a multi-car pile-up without actually being in it, but it’s also a slap-in-the-face reminder to always be diligent behind the wheel. Because things can go from normal to crazy in the blink of an eye.

Mercifully, only five minor injuries were reported as a result of this crash. It occurred during the morning rush hour commute on Highway 50 in Sacramento, California on 7 June, with The Sacramento Bee[1] reporting it made a complete mess of traffic for several hours. The above video comes from ABC10[2] and captures everything unfolding, and actually, it’s rather deceptive as traffic on the five-lane highway looks fairly light.

For reasons unknown, traffic in the second-to-right lane apparently slows and a beefy work truck isn’t able to stop in time. The large Budget box lorry in the centre lane obscures the view, but the work truck brakes hard and hits a Cadillac CTS, sending the work truck into the box truck as it passes. Meanwhile, behind the work truck is an ambulance that also can’t stop in time, rear-ending the truck as yet another pickup truck smacks the ambulance. Thankfully, reports state the ambulance wasn’t transporting anyone at the time.

Further up the road, the big box lorry is left swerving until it flips over and slides to a stop, blocking three lanes of traffic. It’s at this point we finally see the Cadillac, and we also see there was another white pickup truck nearly at a stop in front of the saloon. The truck drives away from the scene so presumably it wasn’t struck, but there’s no indication of slower traffic in front of it so yeah, the reason for the slowdown is a mystery. As for the box truck on its side, at least one car hit it after it flipped, so that’s six vehicles down and a five-lane highway closed in the span of eight seconds.

Reports don’t list a specific cause for the accident[3] or point to any one person at fault. It’s odd that none of the vehicles caught on camera reacted to potential slow traffic ahead until the work truck hit the Cadillac, but the outcome is the takeaway here. Stay safe out there folks, and don’t take that daily commute for granted. Giving yourself an extra second of reaction time can literally mean the difference between getting to work on time, or not getting there at all.

References

  1. ^ The Sacramento Bee (www.sacbee.com)
  2. ^ ABC10 (www.abc10.com)
  3. ^ accident (uk.motor1.com)