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Tyneside councils win clean air zone court challenge

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image captionNewcastle, Gateshead and North Tyneside councils have been ordered by the government to cut air pollution

North East councils have won a court challenge that has held up the introduction of road pollution tolls.

The Newcastle Clean Air Zone (CAZ), which will see some vehicles charged up to £50 per day in the city centre, was due to come into force in January.

However, the plan has been delayed, with the hold-up partly blamed on a High Court case involving number plate recognition cameras.

Tech firm Neology claimed it had lost out unfairly on the supply contract.

In a case against Newcastle and neighbouring Gateshead and North Tyneside councils, the firm alleged Newcastle's procurement process was conducted improperly, and the legal challenge prevented the local authority from entering into a deal with winners Siemens.

Mr Justice Kerr has ruled in favour of the councils following a hearing last month, saying there was "no obvious unfairness".

Newcastle and Gateshead councils welcomed the decision, which they said stated the merits of the claim appeared "quite weak".

"This all means that we can now begin detailed discussions with our preferred provider in order to prepare for the introduction of a clean air zone in Newcastle city centre," the councils said in a joint statement.

The initial proposals were revised after concerns were raised in a public consultation and last month Newcastle City Council announced the introduction would be postponed as it concentrated on tackling the pandemic.

A new launch date has not been confirmed.

The scheme has been developed in response to a government order on the three councils to cut pollution levels.

Neology has been approached for comment by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

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