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Newcastle Clean Air Zone explained: Where it is, when tolls start, and who has to pay

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Daily charges for some vehicles entering Newcastle city centre are not a tax-raising scheme for the council, its leader has said.

Launching on 30 January, the Clean Air Zone (CAZ) will cover most of the city centre.

Private cars will be exempt but older taxis will be charged £12.50 per day and non-compliant lorries, buses and coaches will have to pay £50 each day.

Opponents warn it could deter people from visiting the city. They also claim recently-installed signs advertising the zone are confusing as they do not specify who could be charged.

Vans and light goods vehicles will not face charges until July to allow extra time for vehicle replacements, which are currently affected by a national supply shortage.

Who has to pay a toll?

Under the CAZ, only some older, more polluting vehicles will be subject to daily fees to drive into Newcastle city centre. All private cars have been made exempt from the tolls, but other vehicles that do not comply with modern emissions standards will face charges.

Non-compliant lorries, buses and coaches will be hit with £50-a-day tolls, while the worst polluting vans and taxis will be charged £12.50 per day.

Petrol vans and taxis that meet ‘Euro 4’ standards are exempt, as are ‘Euro 6’ diesels, so it is important to check what class your vehicle is in. All HGVs, buses and coaches must be of ‘Euro 6’ standard to avoid the toll.

Newcastle and Gateshead councils say that, as a general rule, the following vehicles should meet the minimum standard, therefore be exempt from tolls:

  • Taxis – Diesels registered after September 2015, petrol cars registered after 2005;
  • Vans – Diesels registered after September 2016, petrol after January 2006;
  • HGVs, buses and coaches registered after 2014.

When do the tolls start?

You may have seen signs popping up around the city centre warning road users about the new CAZ charges, stating that “charges apply, pay online”.

The first set of tolls will begin on January 30, 2023 and will apply only to taxis, private hire vehicles, buses, coaches and HGVs. Vans and light goods vehicles will not face charges until July 2023, with extra time having been afforded due to a national shortage of vans making it harder for people to upgrade to newer, cleaner models.

Originally, the CAZ was supposed to come into force in January 2021, but was pushed back amid delays caused by a High Court battle and the Covid-19 pandemic. It was then expected to start in July this year, before being pushed back again amid concerns over the financial impact it could have on struggling residents and small businesses in the middle of a cost of living crisis.

What area does the CAZ cover?

The toll zone is in Newcastle city centre only, including the routes in over the Tyne, Swing, High Level and Redheugh bridges. Earlier versions of the plans included a much larger CAZ that would have also included parts of Gateshead, a stretch of the Coast Road, and up to Gosforth, but the scheme was scaled back. Councils also ditched the idea of halving the number of lanes on the Tyne Bridge in order to deter car journeys.

Why has the CAZ been introduced?

This project has been years in the making and is a result of local councils being issued with a legal order from the Government to reduce illegal levels of air pollution in emissions hotspots, which has been linked to more than 300 deaths on Tyneside each year. Charging CAZ areas are the Government’s chosen means of improving air quality in the shortest possible time and there are versions already in operation in places like Birmingham, with the aim of reducing the number of high-polluting vehicles on the road.

Where can I pay my toll and how quickly do I need to pay?

Once the charges begin on January 30, 2023, affected drivers will be able to pay online via the Government website. You will also be able to pay using an online contact form or by calling a hotline on 0300 029 888, open from Monday to Friday 8am to 7pm and Saturday 8am to 2pm. Taxi owners licenced by Newcastle, Gateshead, or North Tyneside councils can also apply for a seven-day permit at a cost of £50, instead of the standard charge of £12.50 per day.

Once the charges launch, drivers will be able to pay up to six days before their journey or six days after. Payments cannot be made before January 30, 2023.

What if I don’t pay the charge on time?

Owners of non-compliant vehicles that do not pay their toll will be issued with a penalty charge notice set at £120, reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days.

Are there any more exemptions, aside from private cars?

Yes, there will be. These include:

  • Disabled tax class or disabled passenger tax class;
  • Certain types of agricultural vehicles;
  • Historic vehicles;
  • Military vehicles;
  • Ultra low emission vehicles;
  • Vehicles retrofitted with technology accredited by the Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme (CVRAS);
  • Specialist agricultural and similar vehicles such as tractors, gritters, snow ploughs, mowing machines digging machines, road-rollers, mobile cranes, mobile pumping vehicles and steam-powered vehicles.
  • Emergency services;
  • Showmen’s vehicles registered to the business of travelling showmen that have been specifically modified or constructed to be used to provide the performance and are permanently fitted with a special type of body or superstructure forming part of the equipment of the show, and are used solely by that person for the purposes of their business;
  • Non-commercial vintage buses aged between 20 and 39 years;
  • Vehicles awaiting replacement or retrofitting, where evidence is supplied that a compliant vehicle has been ordered or proof that the vehicle has been accepted for retrofitting by an approved supplier and is awaiting work to take place;
  • Taxis and private hire vehicles subject to an ongoing finance agreement;
  • Wheelchair accessible taxis/private hire vehicles;
  • Motor Caravans;
  • Community Transport Vehicles;
  • Vehicles registered to businesses located within the CAZ;
  • Emergency rail replacement buses and coaches;
  • Bus and HGV driver training vehicles;
  • Breakdown recovery vehicles;
  • Hybrid vehicles;
  • Taxis and vans belonging to people living within the CAZ.

You can check if your vehicle is compliant or not by entering your registration number at gov.uk/clean-air-zones.

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Beyoncé to play Sunderland Stadium of Light in this year as part of Renaissance world tour!

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The multi-million record-selling singer and songwriter announced on her website she will be returning to the home of the Black Cats on Tuesday, May 23, 2023.

It’s one of only four UK dates on the tour, with the star also playing Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, Murrayfield in Edinburgh and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium Ticketing will begin on Monday, February 6, 2023, starting with an exclusive presale to BeyHive members.

The global superstar, 41, returned to the stage in January with a show in Dubai, which made headlines around the world. There’s been rumours for weeks of a tour after the star released new album Renaissance last summer, featuring tracks including Break My Soul and Cuff It, her first solo studio album since Lemonade in 2016.

The 2023 tour, produced by Parkwood Entertainment, and promoted by Live Nation, kicks off on May 10, 2023, at Friends Arena in Stockholm, SE, making stops throughout Europe in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Sunderland, Paris, London, Marseille, Amsterdam, Warsaw and more.

The tour then continues across North America with shows in Toronto, Chicago, East Rutherford, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Houston and more.

Subscribe to the North east updates to be notified when the tickets become available: https://neoffers.us6.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=034a4038cf634c488f0b53f23&id=6c5ee7d1ab

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Metro penalty fare rise from £20 to £100 supported by public, Nexus survey finds

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The penalty for fare evasion on the Tyne and Wear Metro has now increased to £100, with commuters largely supporting the change.

But despite the steep increase in the penalty fee, a survey conducted by Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Metro, found that 72% of people supported the increase. And 88% of people surveyed said that other passengers were the ones who were the real victims of ticketless Metro travel.

The survey, conducted through Nexus’ customer insight panel revealed that respondents regard fared evasion as seriously as handling stolen goods, tax evasion or weighing a cheaper item at a self-serve check-out.

It increased penalty fare comes after The Department for Transport (DfT) decided to raise the penalty for rail fare evasion in England and Wales as part of a new effort to crackdown on fare evasion across Britain’s railways. Metro is part of the Government’s national penalty fare regime, so it is included in the change.

Fare evasion on Metro costs Nexus £1m a year in lost revenue on what is a vital public service which does not make any profit.

Customer Services Director at Nexus, Huw Lewis, said: “The penalty for fare evasion on Metro has gone up to £100 from today and this is something that the overwhelming majority of our customers support.

“This is the first change since 2005 and reflects feedback from customers who want to see a strong deterrent against fraud. Anyone who is issued with a £100 penalty fare will pay £50 if it is paid with 21 days of it being issued.

“The Government consulted the whole rail industry and Nexus was among those keen to see an increase. Our customers tell us they want tougher penalties for those who decide not to pay their fare.

“The simple message for Metro customers is to buy a ticket every time you travel, that is a lot more affordable than risking the £100 fine.

“It’s never been easier to pay for Metro travel with a Pop Pay As You Go card and Android’s Google Pay. One in four customers are now accessing Metro this way and getting the lowest fares we have on offer.”

The penalty for Metro fare evasion, which is always set by the Government, has been £20 since May 2005.

If paid within 21 days, however, the £100 penalty is reduced to £50. But anyone who fails to pay the penalty fare will be taken to court, where a conviction results in much steeper fines.

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‘Sex party’ in Newcastle cathedral under investigation by Vatican

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St Mary’s Cathedral Newcastle upon Tyne

Dean of St Mary’s Cathedral alleged to have invited worshippers to his living quarters during lockdown.

The Vatican is investigating rumours of a “sex party” at a British cathedral which is alleged to have happened during lockdown.

As part of an investigation into the circumstances of Robert Byrne’s resignation as the Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, the Catholic church is looking into claims one of his priests invited worshippers to a private party at his lodgings.

Multiple people are said to have complained that Father Michael McCoy, dean of Newcastle Cathedral, approached them to attend a party at a time when gatherings were not permitted.

A diocese source told the Sunday Times said: “A number of complaints were made by individuals within the diocese after information came to light about a sex party taking place in the priests’ living quarters attached to Newcastle Cathedral.”

McCoy, 57, killed himself in April 2021 four days after finding out he was subject to an investigation by Northumbria police’s child and adult protection department for child sexual abuse.

He had been appointed by Byrne in 2019, replacing the popular Father Dermott Donnelly, the older brother of TV presenter Declan Donnelly. Father Donnelly has since died after an illness in July 2022.

While there is no suggestion Byrne attended the party, he resigned as bishop in December, telling worshippers his office “has become too great a burden”.

In a letter to clergy, which he read in St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle, he said: “My own discernment has caused me to recognise that I now feel unable to continue serving the people of the diocese in the way that I would wish.”

He was appointed in 2019, after previously serving as an auxiliary in the archdiocese of Birmingham and as provost of the Oxford Oratory from 1993 to 2011.

In a letter seen by the Sunday Times, the archbishop of Liverpool, Malcolm McMahon who is running the diocese until Byrne’s successor is appointed and is leading the investigation into his resignation, said he has been asked by the pope’s advisers to prepare “an in-depth report into the events leading up to Bishop Byrne’s resignation”.

The Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (CSSA) last week began an “unscheduled safeguarding audit” at the diocese.

Steve Ashley, the CSSA chief executive officer said the body was independent and had “full autonomy”. He said: “The scope of the investigatory work will cover any reported abuses, alleged abuses, safeguarding concerns and the culture of safeguarding in the diocese as a whole.”

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