Rishi Sunak: PM orders review of low-traffic neighbourhoods saying he's on the side of motorists

The plan aims to limit traffic in town and city centres
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Rishi Sunak has ordered a review of the rollout of low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs), saying he is on the side of drivers.

The prime minister said in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, he had asked the Department for Transport to review low-traffic neighbourhood (LTN) policies.

These plans will aim for local councils to attempt to limit traffic in town and city centres. Drivers will be often prevented from using quiet residential roads as through routes - as a measure to encourage uptake of other modes of transport.

The policies have been criticised by some Tory MPs who say the measures are an attack on motorists.

The plan aims to limit traffic in town and city centres (Photo by Justin Tallis - WPA Pool/Getty Images)The plan aims to limit traffic in town and city centres (Photo by Justin Tallis - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The plan aims to limit traffic in town and city centres (Photo by Justin Tallis - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Mr Sunak told the Telegraph: “The vast majority of people in the country use their cars to get around and are dependent on their cars. When I’m lucky enough to get home to North Yorkshire, it’s more representative of how most of the country is living, where cars are important.

“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.”

Transport Secretary Mark Harper, who has spoken out before about LTNs, said the Tories were “about giving people more choice on how they travel, not banning you from driving your car”.

Labour dismissed the announcement and accused the government of “pure hypocrisy”. Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said: “The Conservatives accelerated and funded the use of LTNs, so it is pure hypocrisy to see them denounce a policy they have been instrumental in introducing and accelerating at pace.

“Measures to improve road safety around schools and in residential streets are often demanded by local communities themselves. That’s why these are decisions for local authorities and must be done with proper consultation and taking on board the concerns of communities.”

The pitch to motorists and car owners comes after the Conservatives’ narrow victory in the Uxbridge and Ruislip by-election earlier this month, which saw the Tory candidate tap into local concerns about the expansion of London’s ultra-low emissions zone (Ulez).

That success has seen some Tory MPs on the right of the party urge the PM to engage in a rethink on net zero, amid hopes of attacking Labour’s green ambitions. The spread of LTNs in particular has emerged as a concern among some members of the Conservative Party.

In a letter published today, 43 Conservative MPs and peers called on Mr Sunak to delay the ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars from the current deadline of 2030 to 2035. The politicians - including former minister Sir Jacob-Rees Mogg and ex-party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith - called the policy "heavy-handed", and claimed it would do "grave harm to the economy".

Mr Sunak ruled out any shift in the government’s position, telling the Telegraph: “The 2030 target has been our policy for a long time and continues to be. We are not considering a delay to that date.”

Conservative MP Nick Fletcher suggested in the Commons earlier this year that traffic control plans being mooted by local councils across the UK were part of an “international socialist concept” which would take away personal liberties.

The Prime Minister has recently doubled down on attacks on Sir Keir Starmer amid the row over the Ulez scheme, which is being pushed by London Mayor Sadiq Khan. “I’ve become slightly more alarmed by the Labour Party’s position. It’s quite anti-motorist,” Mr Sunak claimed.

The Labour leader and other senior party figures have called on Mr Khan to reflect on the policy following the Uxbridge defeat.

The capital’s mayor has promised to listen to Londoners while also stressing the urgent need to clean up the city’s air.

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