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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Business owners in Manningham say they may be forced to sell up due to the Clean Air Zone scheme and the pandemic

One business owner might sell up shop because of the impacts of the pandemic and the impending Clean Air Zone scheme.

Bradford’s Clean Air Zone was set to launch this week but has been delayed until a yet-determined date in the spring.

The Clean Air Zone (CAZ) will cover Bradford city centre and the Bradford outer ring road.

It will also extend out along the Aire valley corridor, across Manningham Lane, Bradford Road and Canal Road area, including Shipley and Saltaire.

The Clean Air Zone will impact Bradford centre, through Manningham Lane, up to Shipley and Saltaire. Image: Google Maps.

The CAZ will not impact passenger vehicles, meaning families and individuals with a car will not have to pay a charge, even if they use their car for work, unlike London’s £15-a-day congestion charge for anyone driving in the city centre.

Instead, it is a daily charge for commercial vehicles, including buses, coaches, lorries, vans, and taxis, who do not comply with the new regulations.

Taxis will have to pay £7 a day, if they are not compliant, whereas HGVs will have to pay £50 a day to drive in the zone.

Most vehicles will have to comply with Euro 6 emissions for diesel, and Euro 4 emissions for petrol, or switch over to an electric car to avoid paying the daily surcharge.

Vans, minibuses, and large good vehicles (LGVs) will have to pay a charge of £9 a day if not compliant.

The Council has offered grants of up to £4,500 for taxi drivers and businesses with vans, LGVs and HGVs to refit their current vehicles, or upgrade to Euro 6 emissions or electric vehicles, but the amount doesn’t cover the full cost of purchasing a new vehicle that is up to standard.

Taxi drivers in Bradford will have to either upgrade or purchase a new vehicle or pay a £9-a-day charge.

Asian Standard has found out that businesses in Manningham, and businesses that serve Manningham, feel they have not been informed adequately about the imminent changes.

Asian Standard has also found out that business owners are concerned about the increase in their outgoing and how they are going to cope with purchasing new vehicles or paying the daily charge, especially after a slow two years in trade due to the pandemic.

Bradford Council states that they have “regularly promoted the CAZ for the past two years”, however, one business owner we spoke to, only found about the plans before Christmas from a taxi driver, a few weeks before the scheme was initially planned to start.

The CAZ comes at a bad time, with many businesses, particularly in Manningham, suffering a loss of income, and for some, barely staying afloat, because of loss of trade due to Covid-19 restrictions.

One business affected on Manningham Lane is Al Freshco, a takeaway restaurant that serves pizzas, burgers, and desserts. The managers only found out recently about the upcoming changes.

Al Freshco will have to put its prices up because of the CAZ. Image: Google Street View.

A popular takeaway, Al Freshco will have to pay out of pocket for the vans that deliver the ingredients to the shop.

Hamza Habib, manager at Al Freshco, said: “Our outgoings are going to increase by 25% to 30% which means prices are going to have to increase.

“It is not fair. They are giving four grand to businesses, but what if you don’t have the rest of the money to spend on getting a new van?

“We don’t know what we are going to do, to be honest. I’m not sure if we will be able to cover the cost of the charge and finding delivery drivers in the area will be difficult.”

Jay Khan, the owner of SFC Bradford on Manningham Lane, has worked at the takeaway restaurant for over thirty years. The 56-year-old works at the fast-food joint fifteen hours a day but is considering selling the business because of the impacts of the pandemic and the CAZ.

Mr Khan put his prices up in 2020 before the pandemic to account for rising food prices and utility costs. However, when the CAZ is introduced, he may have to put his prices up again, to account for the daily charge or the price of the new van, or face going out of business.

SFC Bradford. Image: Google Street View.

Mr Khan found out about the CAZ through an alert he was previously signed up to from the Council website, however, the Council had not attempted to reach out personally. He believes a letter, or a representative from the council bobbing in to explain the CAZ, would have been the appropriate thing to do.

Making a loss for six months during the pandemic, Mr Khan suffered more financial trouble when he sold his newest van a loss because of the CAZ rules.

Mr Khan said: “All I know is that I’m going to have to change vans. I’ve had my van fifteen years, I hardly ever drive it, just twice a week to pick up ingredients from the shop.

“I bought a new van a few months ago, and I didn’t know about the zone at the time, so I ended up selling it and making a big loss on the thing.”

He added: “I understand that the CAZ is going to reduce pollution, but I don’t understand the scheme. I think in the first months I am going to end up leasing a vehicle. I can’t find the right van for the business, and when I do, they are around £60,000.”

Solly Food Store on Leamington Street, Manningham.

The owner of Solly Food Store on Leamington Street, Manningham, a 46-year-old man who wishes to remain anonymous, said that he was only informed about the changes before Christmas, by a taxi driver.

The food store uses refrigerated vans to transport goods to the shop in Manningham.

Refrigerated vans are typically more expensive than regular vans but even used fully electric vans can be anywhere between £10,000 and £35,000.

The manager said: “I don’t think the CAZ is a good idea. How does the Council expect us to get a Euro 6 van? I don’t know what I’m going to do, I’m scared to say anything, I only heard about this before Christmas.

“When I heard about it, I thought the taxi driver was pulling my leg because of the daily charge in London but I didn’t know it was going to happen in Bradford.

“I have no choice but to sell my old van and buy a new one, which I don’t want to do because work has been quiet, and I can’t afford it.

“I didn’t know about the grants or how to access them, the Council never sent a letter or reached out to me, so I haven’t been able to apply for one.”

He added: “It is not fair on business owners, I’m not going to be able to put the charge on to my customers, or the takeaways and caterers that I supply. If I said, ‘I need to put my prices up’ they would go elsewhere.”

Bradford Council says they have been regularly promoting the CAZ for the last two years.

A Bradford Council spokesperson said: “We have been regularly promoting the Clean Air Zone (CAZ) for the last two years. This has included local media, trade media, radio advertising, billboards, digital display boards throughout the district and through TV coverage.

“The introduction of the CAZ has been moved back from this month to Spring 2022. This will allow businesses more time to use the Clean Air Funding available and upgrade their vehicles.

“This includes a new £1.7m fund to increase the electric vehicle grants available for taxis. The £10.4m Clean Air Van & Minibus Fund is also currently live on the Breathe Better Bradford website, providing grants of up to £4,500 to upgrade vehicles in the District to the correct standard.

“So far, we have extensively advertised grant funding for taxis, HGVs, coaches, school bus companies, light goods vehicles, minibuses. This has received an enthusiastic response and positive feedback from the companies that have been successful in bidding for the funding.

“We will also shortly be launching a Bradford Clean Air Exemptions Programme. Anyone interested in this programme can register their interest on the Breathe Better Bradford website, then we will get in touch with them on when and how to apply.

“All information regarding the Bradford CAZ, including information about grants and exemptions, can be found on the Breathe Better Bradford website.”

The council say they have used local media to promote the CAZ scheme, but here at Asian Standard, we haven’t been approached for any communications or promotions.

Founder and editor of Asian Standard, Fatima Patel.

As a business, we will also be impacted by the new CAZ scheme as we are based in Little Germany, but we have had no correspondence from the council.

Our Editor and Managing Director Fatima Patel said: “Breathing in fresh air can help to reduce airborne illness and infection and so the introduction of Clean Air Zone, in my opinion, is a great idea. However, the implementation of it and the support to help local businesses plan for it, especially when we have been impacted by the pandemic has been poor.

“As a business owner and the owner of a local media platform we have had no communication or support from the council about CAZ.

“The introduction of CAZ is naturally going to impact our business, but the impact could be reduced if the council provided better support and much better communication which can us ahead and prepare our forecasts accordingly. We are behind the CAZ scheme, but not happy with how it’s being implemented.”

Will your business be impacted by the Clean Air Zone? Let us know in the comments.

 

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