CLEAN AIR ZONE: Charity suspends service due to charges
A homeless charity which helps 600 people per month says it can no longer operate in the city centre because of Clean Air Zone charges.
Homeless Birmingham, part of Cert UK, uses a van and bus to offer food and other services to homeless people, running from outside the NCP car park at Dale End twice a week.
But the charity has said it will no longer be able to offer the service as it relies on a van – which is classed as Euro 5 rather than Euro 6 – and a bus subject to a £50 per day charge per day.
Ken Lowry, founder of Homeless Birmingham and a trustee of Cert UK, says the charity has looked at every possibility but have found there is no exemption available to them.
He said: “We have been doing it for more than four years. We were helping 350 people per month when we were doing one day a week and are now helping 600 people per month.
“The council is asking us to pay them to do their job.”
The van is used to deliver food, which is passed out to homeless people by a group of around five or six volunteers per session.
The bus has been converted to include sections for job searching, hairdressing, and a food bank.
Mr Lowry says other charities have been affected as well and believes they are being pushed out of the city centre.
He is appealing for a donation of a compliant van but has so far been unsuccessful.
A post announcing the suspension of the street kitchen in the city centre was met with shock buy social media users.
Tina Harvey wrote on Facebook: “Disgusting. You are doing a job that shouldn’t need doing.
“You are saving the council thousands by doing something that they should be resolving and yet they can’t forego the charges. Appalling!”
Sheila Arundell wrote: “I’m ashamed to be a Brummie today. The Birmingham City Council should be taken to account for this. I’m so sad for the people that you support so well.”
Francis Farrar wrote: “Birmingham council should be absolutely ashamed of this.”
The Local Democracy Reporting Service has contacted the city council for comment.
The Clean Air Zone is being introduced in response to poor air quality in Birmingham which is responsible for 900 deaths per year.
Words: Mark Cardwell, Local Democracy Reporter
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