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Time-sensitive critical communications


ChallengeTram tracks in Birmingham city centre

In June 2021, Birmingham City Council introduced a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) as part of their city-wide Brum Breathes programme, designed to improve air quality for residents and visitors. 

Setting up a good communication structure with citizens and stakeholders was critical to success, but one area proved to be particularly challenging. 

Despite a high-quality engagement programme, the council still needed to be able to respond to significant volumes of penalty charge notices (PCNs), and the council's in-house print unit did not have the technology, flexibility, or scale to deal efficiently with these. 

Each PCN had to be personalised taking data such as, registered vehicle keeper, registered address and the images from cameras within the CAZ to then be composed, printed and mailed within a very short timeframe. ​

The speed and accuracy of this was critical, with any delay having implications for both revenue and negative citizen experience.


As their Print Management partner, Birmingham City Council asked CDS, to create a transactional print and mail solution for the penalty charge notices arising from the implementation of their Clean Air Zone.  ​

A team of experts at CDS created a tailor-made, secure and GDPR compliant technology solution to knit together the complex data sets required. CDS then went on to compose, print and mail a high volume of PCNs from our Aylesbury production facility, within the required timeframes. ​

Due to the processing time required, an initial production limit of 10,000 mailing items per day was set, but three weeks after launching, CDS were asked to increase capacity and implement a second communication. This new process was up and running in just three days. 


CDS' transactional mail solution has played a significant role in the successful implementation of Birmingham City Council's Clean Air programme, allowing the prompt communication of penalty charge notices, and collection of council revenues.

Given the technical capability and flexibility of our production facilities, CDS was able to set up, automate, test and implement the transactional mailing solution for the Council within just seven days. 

Our solution means that we can now create, print and mail a complex communication for the council, within two days of receiving an order. 

We have now doubled our daily capacity to 20,000 mailing items per day and significantly improved the efficiency of the whole data and print process in support of better communication and citizen experience.

Cyclist passing a Clean Air Zone sign in Birmingham

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