Both the Leader of the Council and the Regional Mayor are now of record as saying Birmingham will have to have a congestion charge. Records who that the City has some of the highest and worst levels of toxic emissions outside London. ‘Introducing a charge for bringing vehicles into Birmingham is something the city "is going to have to do", said Mayor Andy Street. Money raised from the charge would be spent on offering alternative methods of transport to car users as Birmingham commuters had already shown they would use the trains if the service was good. "If you look at the pattern of commuting from Sutton Coldfield and Solihull to the centre of the city, because the rail service is excellent, most people choose to use it." Mr. Street said he was keen to see not just a pollution policy for Birmingham, but one which would run across the whole West Midlands Combined Authority.
City Council leader Ian Ward has said he will back ‘whatever measures it takes’ to secure clean air in the city. While there are currently no plans yet for a congestion charge or even diesel and petrol bans in the city centre, Ian Ward said he would consider all measures in a bid to cut the 900 premature deaths a year from pollution.
Other global cities are taking increasingly stronger action to tackle pollution, including London which last month doubled its congestion charge for heavier polluting cars made before 2006 as the latest step towards cutting emissions. Paris will ban all diesel cars by 2030.
The government, following court action from the Client Earth campaign group, has told cities to cut their pollution to safe levels by 2020. Birmingham has very high pollution around the city centre and M6 corridor.