Tyne & Wear

Newcastle taxis oppose clean air congestion charge proposal

Bridges across the Tyne Image copyright Jeff Overs/BBC
Image caption The Tyne Bridge is part of an emission hotspot

More than 1,000 people have backed a petition by taxi drivers to stop a clean air toll being imposed on Newcastle's roads.

The Newcastle Hackney Carriage Drivers Association fears the city council is considering imposing a charge of up to £12.50 to drive in the city centre.

The taxi drivers said the "injustice" would push prices up for motorists and commuters.

Newcastle City Council said no decision on a charging zone has been made.

Newcastle, Gateshead, and North Tyneside councils have until 31 December to put forward proposals to the government for tackling emissions in three hotspots - the Central Motorway between the Tyne Bridge and the Swan House roundabout, stretches of the A1 past Swalwell, Whickham and Blaydon, and the Coast Road near Wallsend.

Hackney Carriage driver John Hirst launched an online petition after receiving a letter from the council about options it is considering, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

'Ridiculous'

Mr Hirst said: "If you enter the city centre by vehicle we have been informed you will pay between £9 and £12.50 per day.

"Drivers who are already struggling to make a living in Newcastle will be expected to pay a further £350 per month.

"This cannot be justified and fares will increase."

He said buses would also be affected with increased costs being passed on to passengers.

Mr Hirst added that the taxi and private hire industry "cannot justify paying ridiculous amounts" to purchase new emission-free vehicles.

Arlene Ainsley, cabinet member for transport and air quality at Newcastle City Council, said: "At this stage we do not yet know whether we will need to introduce a charging clean air zone, how much it would be or which types of vehicles would be hit by the charges.

"We do know that Government does not expect a potential charge to be implemented before 2021."

She said drivers would continue to be informed.

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