Now Rishi will review 20mph zones! Prime Minister continues his backing for motorists as the tide starts to turn on controversial traffic schemes
- Rishi Sunak has asked ministers to review local support for 20mph zones
- Ministers are also considering boosting funding for filling in potholes
The rollout of controversial green traffic schemes is set to be slowed or even reversed, under Government plans to introduce a ‘new deal for the motorist’.
Rishi Sunak has ordered ministers to review the proliferation of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and the blanket imposition of 20 mile-an-hour zones.
Future guidance on clean air zones is already under review following controversy over Sadiq Khan’s plans for a massive expansion of the £12.50-a-day Ulez tax on older cars in London.
Ministers are also considering a big expansion of funding for filling in potholes, as they seek to make support for the motorist a key dividing line with Labour at next year’s election. Town centre parking will also be examined.
A Tory source said: ‘We are looking at the idea of a new deal for the motorist. Labour are vulnerable on this stuff because they do not understand how ordinary people live – when you look at how they act in power, whether it’s London or Wales or Oxford, they just want to penalise drivers at every turn. We have an opportunity here to stand up for those people.’
Rishi Sunak has ordered ministers to review the proliferation of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and 20 mile-an-hour-zones
The review will examine local support for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and 20mph zones
The Prime Minister yesterday told drivers he was ‘on their side in supporting them to use their cars to do all the things that matter to them’.
LTNs were designed to encourage more cycling and walking. But they are unpopular with many motorists who have found themselves barred from driving on familiar routes and forced onto traffic-clogged main roads.
A Government source said: ‘We want to have a healthy balance when it comes to active travel schemes – being supportive of increasing the choice for walking and cycling, but doing it in a way that doesn’t penalise motorists.’
The review will examine whether schemes are supported and what impact they had on the local economy and emergency services.
A source said that if councils refused to remove ‘particularly egregious’ schemes, then the PM would consider changing the law so ministers can order their closure.
The move follows a backlash against Labour in the Uxbridge by-election where opposition to the expansion of Ulez by the London mayor was a major issue.
The review will also examine 20mph zones. The low speed limit zones are commonplace in towns and cities, but are being rolled out in rural areas, such as in Cornwall.
A Parliamentary question this month revealed that research by the Department for Transport has found the zones cut average speeds by just one mile an hour. A Tory source said ‘the impact of these things is very questionable.’
Ministers believe that Labour would wage war on the motorist in government. Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham is plotting clean air restrictions across his whole 500-square mile domain.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham (pictured) is plotting clean air restrictions across his whole 500-square mile domain
In Labour-run Oxford, officials are looking at barring motorists from driving from one part of the city to another unless they travel out to the ring road.
In Wales, the Labour administration has scrapped most major road building schemes and is due to introduce a 20mph default speed limit in residential areas.
During a visit to Wrexham on Friday the PM said the national imposition of a lower speed limit ‘doesn’t make sense’ and should be restricted to ‘appropriate’ areas ‘for example near schools’.
Mr Sunak told the Sunday Telegraph he was ‘alarmed’ by Labour’s ‘quite anti-motorist’ stance.
He said: ‘I just want to make sure people know that I’m on their side in supporting them to use their cars to do all the things that matter to them.’
Meanwhile Labour’s trade spokesman Nick Thomas-Symonds said that the party supports ‘well-planned’ LTNs and that he was ‘staggered’ by the PM’s decision to conduct a review.
The Local Government Association said a national review of LTNs was ‘unnecessary’ as councils are ‘best placed to make decisions’.
A Government spokesman said: ‘Local traffic measures must work for residents, businesses and emergency services.’
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