FSB Chairman Mike Cherry was recently in Leeds to visit FSB member Linda Scotney, proprietor of Ron Smith Turf Supplies, to find out how the proposed Leeds Clean Air Zone will impact local small businesses.
The FSB supports reducing pollution but feels current plans are unfair and more help is needed for small businesses to upgrade vehicles.
Leeds City Council is the first UK city outside of London to agree plans for a Clean Air Zone. The proposed clean air charging zone in and around Leeds city centre will mean taxis and private hire vehicles could be charged £12.50 a day, while HGVs and buses would pay £50 a day for entering the zone. The charging zone would start on 1 January 2020.
Businesses with large fleets will be able to largely avoid charges as they can just us their newer HGVs within Leeds, whilst firms with fewer HGVs or just the one will not have this ability. These plans have also seen second hand lesser-polluting HGVs rise in value and scarcity. This means that firms are finding it impossible to get cleaner vehicles before the charging zone starts in 2020.
Mike Cherry, Chairman of FSB, said: “Small business are ready and willing to play their part in tackling local air pollution but local authority plans to tackle air pollution must be fair and transparent.
"Air pollution is an issue that affects us all and we all have a duty to do something. We cannot put the burden solely on small haulage firms. The FSB are willing to support Leeds Council in their efforts to get Central Government support for small businesses affected by the Clean Air Zone.”
Linda Scotney, proprietor of Ron Smith Turf Supplies, said: “We are a small family run business that has been in Leeds since 1947. Over the last seventy years we have built up a loyal customer base.
"The Clean Air Zone charges threatens all this hard work. The plans as they currently are will penalise small Leeds firms and will cost local jobs. We are committed to improving air quality but we just need help and time. I am pleased that the FSB are supporting us on this issue.”