UNIONS representing musicians, theatre workers and actors are pressing for a one year delay in the introduction of Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone and for a support scheme for the cultural sector.
In an open letter to Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, unions say the pandemic has decimated the industry with workers particularly hard hit.
Falling between the cracks in the government support scheme, nearly half (46 per cent) of freelance cultural workers in the region have missed out.
They fear the planned introduction of the clean air zone in June is another threat to already reduced incomes.
The unions are urging the Council to delay the implementation of the clean air zone by at least a year to provide breathing space for the sector to recover.
In addition, the cultural unions are also asking the city council to establish a separate fund to support Birmingham’s cultural workers, especially those from low incomes and disadvantaged backgrounds.
Musicians’ Union regional organiser and TUC Midlands cultural chairperson Stephen Brown said: “We support measures to reduce climate change and the aims of the clean air zone are laudable.
“However, the way this is being introduced is ham-fisted.
“We have consistently raised our concerns about how the practicalities of the scheme will have a negative impact on workers in our sector, but we haven’t been properly listened to.
“The majority of cultural workers are low paid. They only work in the city for a few hours at a time and have to travel by car or van due to equipment requirements.
“A recent survey revealed that 70 per cent will face being charged, and the nature of their work means that with post-midnight finishes, they’ll get charged twice. It isn’t difficult therefore to see how badly hit they will be.”
Birmingham introduces its Clean Air Zone on June 1 effectively covering the area of the inner ring road.
It will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The charges will be applied daily. A non-compliant vehicle driving in the Zone will pay once for the day, then may drive in the area without limit on that day.
To find out if a vehicle will be charged visit: https://www.gov.uk/clean-air-zones