Rishi Sunak 'slams the brakes' on anti-driver schemes as he takes aim at 20mph zones and low traffic neighbourhoods

30 September 2023, 00:18 | Updated: 30 September 2023, 08:18

Rishi Sunak wants to fight back against anti-motorist schemes
Rishi Sunak wants to fight back against anti-motorist schemes. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Rishi Sunak has said he is "slamming the brakes" on anti-motorist schemes including blanket 20mph speed limits and low traffic neighbourhoods.

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The PM, who appears to sense an opportunity to gain ground on Labour with a focus on drivers, said he will fight back against a "relentless attack" on car users.

He is taking aim at years of initiatives that have focused on the environment and traffic reduction, such as Wales's introduction of 20mph limits on many roads.

"I'm slamming the brakes on the war on motorists - it is as simple as that," Sunak told The Sun.

Read more: Sunak to stop councils imposing 20mph roads and make it easier to challenge parking fines in 'pro-driver' package

"What we want to do now is make sure that all these hare-brained schemes forced on local communities, whether it is low traffic neighbourhoods, whether it is blanket 20 mile an hour speed limits, all of that... [they] need to stop.

"What we want to make sure is that local communities are not having these things imposed upon them, forced on them.

"We've seen that happening in Wales. That's not right. And we're going to take a different approach to this."

A raft of measures have been confirmed.

Sunak wants to boost his credentials with drivers
Sunak wants to boost his credentials with drivers. Picture: Alamy

Guidance on 20mph limits will be reviewed to stop "their blanket use in areas where it is not appropriate", the Department for Transport said.

That is despite the Welsh government claiming its initiative will save up to 100 lives a year.

Low traffic neighbourhood guidance will also be reviewed.

Read more: Shocking moment furious driver bangs on woman's car and calls her 'f***ing s**g' in foul-mouthed road rage rant

They have drawn criticism for pushing traffic into other roads and fears were raised about emergency vehicles' access being hampered.

Other measures include a clampdown on enforcement of parking and yellow box junctions.

Bus lanes should only ban cars "when necessary" under new Department for Transport guidance.

Low traffic neighbourhoods have been criticised by drivers
Low traffic neighbourhoods have been criticised by drivers. Picture: Alamy

A National Parking Platform pilot will be introduced so drivers may only need to use one app instead of having to download several to pay for a space.

Utility firms will also be charged when they dig up roads in peak times, leading to traffic jams, and the money raised will be put into fixing potholes.

The full package will be unveiled by transport secretary Mark Harper in a speech at the Tory party conference in Manchester on Monday.

Mr Harper said ahead of the speech: "Too often the private car is vilified when it has been one of the most powerful forces for personal freedom and economic growth. That’s why the Government is taking the long-term, necessary decision to back the motorists who keep our country moving. 

"We’re introducing a plan to ensure drivers can enjoy smoother journeys, park more easily and no longer face unfair and oppressive traffic enforcement measures.

"Our plan will sit alongside our continued investment in public transport and active travel as part of a package of measures designed to help people travel in the best way that works for them."

Mr Sunak's move comes after the party managed to cling on to Boris Johnson's old seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip after the Tories turned it into an effective referendum on Sadiq Khan's Ulez.

The policy requires cars to meet emissions standards or drivers face a £12.50 daily charge.

He has already pushed back the date a ban on petrol and diesel cars is due to kick in from 2030 to 2035.

But such moves will anger critics who say the government needs to focus on environmental policies to meet Net Zero targets instead of pandering to petrol and diesel drivers.