Bristol Clean Air Zone: Father faces £720 fine after daughter had surgery in hospital

  • Watch Louisa Britton's report

A father from Kewstoke says he is at his wits end after being fined £720 driving into Bristol's clean air zone when his daughter was having brain surgery at the Children's Hospital.

12-year-old Alicia has a rare genetic condition and in December she underwent brain surgery to relieve excess fluid on her brain and spine. 

But when her father Ken drove her to hospital and visited her over the following days - he was issued four penalty notices for travelling through the clean air zone. He believes these trips should be exempt.

He told ITV News West Country: "I believe firmly that I should be exempt, I can't expect a twelve year old girl to travel from Weston any other way than by car, the train service, the bus services are ridiculously difficult to get from my house in Kewstoke to the children's hospital in Bristol. So I took her in the car.

Ken with the PCNs he was sent Credit: ITV News West Country

"I knew that there was a clean air zone, this occurred half way through the period of time that she was there and there was a machine in the foyer at the hospital and as far as I could tell, I just had to put my registration in and I would be exempt.

"They refused my exemption, I argued the case, I phoned them up, they would not except it unless I had a letter from the hospital, I asked for a letter from the hospital but so far that has not been forthcoming."

The machine Ken says he used to apply for an exemption during his daughter's stay in hospital Credit: University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS FT

When Ken appealed the fines, he says the rejection letters' arrivals were so delayed due to the postal strikes and the Christmas holidays, it was too late to pay the discretionary 9 pound charge he was offered by Bristol City Council.

The penalties increased to £180 per fine. He now faces a £720 pound bill, money he says he does not have.

Ken said: "It's a huge amount of stress, in late September I had a heart problem and the stress of all of this as well is just too much it's just a ridiculous situation.

"All you're concerned about is taking the person that you care about into hospital the easiest way and the best way.

"Having the machine that says if you think you're exempt put your number in here, they shouldn't even do that if they're going to ignore it."

A spokesperson for Bristol City Council said: "We are aware that a small number of Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) were unfortunately sent by the system to drivers despite them having a valid Clean Air Zone hospital patient exemption during the first weeks of the zone's operation.

"This was an isolated issue, which has now been rectified and those affected have had their PCNs cancelled and confirmation letters sent in the post. We are sorry for any inconvenience this has caused."

Ken has not received any letter stating his fine has been cancelled.

It comes as a freedom of information request from ITV West Country revealed that in the first two weeks of the clean air zone, the city council made £492,899 in fines and charges.

During the period between 28th November and 12th January, they issued 14,442 PCNs which generated £209,776.

When asked how that money would be spent, the council said that the zone was "not intended or created to generate profit.

"Funds from charges are collected by the Government and used to cover the costs of operating the zone including maintenance of cameras, installation of signage, and operational staff as well as setting up a reserve to cover any costs of decommissioning and any required contingency.

"If there is money left after paying operational costs, it is passed to Bristol City Council."