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Not one fine issued after drivers banned from idling engines in city centre

PUBLISHED: 07:00 30 March 2020 | UPDATED: 08:55 30 March 2020

Castle Meadow in Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Castle Meadow in Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

Not a single driver has been fined for idling their engines in Norwich city centre, almost a year and a half after the council granted itself powers to do so.

Labour Norwich city councillor Kevin Maguire. Pic: Archant Library.Labour Norwich city councillor Kevin Maguire. Pic: Archant Library.

And leaders at Norwich City Council have admitted granting the powers has not proved as effective as had been hoped.

In October 2018, the council began using the powers, with drivers who refused to switch off engines risking a £20 fine.

But, while warnings have been given, not one fine has been issued, which led Green city councillor Sandra Bogelein to question why - particularly given so many buses wait in Castle Meadow.

She said: “This is a problem in a small, clearly defined area with a clear behavioural cause and quite straightforward solution.”

Green Norwich city councillor Sandra Bogelein. Photo: Neil DidsburyGreen Norwich city councillor Sandra Bogelein. Photo: Neil Didsbury

Kevin Maguire, the Labour-controlled council’s cabinet member for safe and sustainable city environment, conceded that “the engine switch off powers have not proved as effective as any of us would hope them to be”.

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He said that the law meant that, before a fixed penalty notice could be issued, the enforcement officer has to ask a driver who is idling their engine to switch it off.

And he said: “Unsurprisingly, no penalty notices have been issued as, when spoken to every driver complies with the request.

“The enforcement officer has to witness the infringement personally to be able to issue a FPN, they cannot be issued retrospectively following a report from a member of the public, for example.

“Drivers became aware of when civil enforcement officers were in the area and made sure they had their engines switched off.

“Given the numbers of staff available, it is not possible to have a member of the enforcement team in Castle Meadow all the time.

“The real solution to the air quality problem in Castle Meadow, and other areas of the city, is to get the bus and coach operators to invest in cleaner vehicles. Both the city and county councils would be keen to encourage that.”

Meanwhile, data from one of Norwich’s pollution monitoring stations has shown emissions have fallen since the coronavirus pandemic prompted restrictions of movement.

Emissions fell from 11.9 micrograms per cubic metre during March 19 to March 26 last year to 9.9 micrograms per cubic metre during March 17 to March 24 this year.


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