A couple are living in fear of bailiffs after being hit with Clean Air Zone fines, but say they’ve never driven through them.
Paul Murphy insists he has never been “north of the Dartford Tunnel”, yet has been fined by an authority.
He has accused Birmingham City Council of affecting his marriage after he was wrongly penalised with £1000 worth of Clean Air Zone fines while he was hundreds of miles away.
But the 62-year-old had to prove to wife Sue he was not in the Midlands and was in fact working in Eastbourne – 200 miles away.
But the tickets continued to pour into his home leading to fears he would ultimately be confronted by bailiffs.
Council chiefs told Paul in an email its number plate cameras were not “infallible” and “misreads” sometimes happened.
Paul said: “Sue saw the letter from Birmingham Council and demanded to know what I’d been doing there when I’d told her I was in Eastbourne.
“That threw me off because I knew I’d done nothing wrong.
“It wasn’t until we went through the evidence together that she understood it was a huge mistake by the council.”
Paul claimed the real culprit clocking up the fines was the owner of a blue Vauxhall with a similar plate to his white Jaguar.
He alleged the council told him it would add the two number plates to a list highlighting the need for staff to double-check the details so penalties were correctly handed out.
But six months on Paul is still receiving fines.
He said: “It’s stressful and anxiety-inducing. I keep appealing but the fines keep coming, I don’t know what else they want me to do.
“I’m not paying those fines because I haven’t done anything wrong but I don’t want bailiffs at my door.
“I and my car have never been within 200 miles of Birmingham. I have corresponded with the council every time and it apologised – I’m running out of things to do.”
The council email sent to Paul said Clean Air Zone automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras provided a high level of accuracy when capturing vehicle registration numbers. But it added: “Cameras are not infallible and, occasionally, there are ‘misreads’. This is the same for all ANPR systems.
“Before a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) is sent out, each contravention is reviewed by a human operator to verify that the number plate seen by the camera is accurate.
“Unfortunately due to any one of a number of reasons, such as dirty, damaged, ‘altered’ number plates or simple human error, ‘mis-reads’ do sometimes occur.
“We can only apologise for any inconvenience an incorrectly-issued PCN may cause.”
A spokesman for Birmingham City Council: “For someone who receives a penalty charge notice, they can pay the charge or, if they believe it has been issued incorrectly, they can submit a challenge.
“If someone chooses to challenge a penalty charge notice they have up to 28 days from the date of issue and a challenge can be submitted online or by post.
“To make the process as clear and as transparent as possible the penalty charge notice includes the grounds for a challenge, in line with the relevant legislation, and the council has published clear guidelines on how it considers all representations.
“If someone is unhappy with the decision of the council to reject a challenge there is another right to appeal or right to challenge a penalty charge notice at later stages of the process.”