Is Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees fairer and more understanding than Sadiq Khan? Or perhaps Bristol is a more sensible, reasonable and moderate city than London?
In the summer I visited Bristol for the first time in 35 years and had a fantastic weekend eating, drinking, watching a band and walking around this amazing city. Planning to enjoy the odd beer, I drove and parked my car in the hotel car park, only getting back behind the wheel when it came time to leave.
But, shock horror, a month later, completely out of the blue, I received two penalty charge notices totalling £360 - £180 to drive into Bristol and the same to drive back out.
Neither my wife, nor I, had any idea the city had a Clean Air Zone and that we were required to pay £9 a day to drive within the zone. Perhaps we were too busy navigating the city centre streets to find our hotel?
That there were warning signs I don’t doubt, but both my wife and I honestly didn’t see a single one and were blissfully unaware of the scheme, which had been introduced eight months earlier.
To cut a long story short, I appealed and, three months after I drove into Bristol, the city council agreed to waive the £360 fine provided I pay £9 within seven days.
So that’s Mayor Marvin Rees’ Bristol, what about Sadiq Khan’s new fully-ULEZed London?
I’ve tried, and failed, to get the details of how many drivers have been fined since ULEZ expanded. But, depending on which figures you believe, it looks as if more than £750,000 has been raised every day since the boundary moved, presumably the majority of which has come from those living outside London.
“The approaches adopted by each city couldn’t be more different and I have no doubt which will ultimately prove most successful...”
When I unwittingly drove into the ULEZ zone six months after it was extended to the South Circular, my pleas fell on deaf ears and I was forced to pay the chunky fine (the same amount as Bristol).
I realise London’s new zone has received national media attention, whereas Bristol’s CAZ, by the council’s own admission, was only promoted locally. This clearly makes a difference, but I strongly suspect there are still plenty of people currently being fined for unwittingly straying inside the new ‘M25 ULEZ zone’, blissfully unaware of what they have done.
Bristol had a ‘cooling off’ amnesty period of six months following the introduction of its zone when first-time offenders were warned rather than being fined. From what I can tell, London started charging £180 fines from Day 1.
You might say I’m only supporting Bristol because I was ‘let off’ and didn’t receive the same consideration in London. But, from my experience, the approaches adopted by each city couldn’t be more different and I have no doubt which will ultimately prove most successful.
I look forward to re-visiting Bristol.