Sat. Jul 13th, 2024


Rishi Sunak is set to block councils from introducing new 20mph speed limits, according to reports.

The move is among a package of measures the prime minister is due to announce at the Conservative Party’s annual conference that gets under way in Manchester this weekend.

The so-called “plan for motorists” comes in the wake of the Tory’s unexpected win in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election, which saw a backlash against Labour policy towards motorists.

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The expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) by London mayor Sadiq Khan was blamed for the failure of the opposition to take Boris Johnson’s former seat.

It led to a commitment by Mr Sunak to tackle “anti-motorist policies”.

Alongside plans to curb the power of councils to introduce new 20mph zones on main roads, Mr Sunak is also expected to announce limits on councils’ abilities to levy fines from traffic cameras and restrictions on enforcing box junction infringements.

A cap on the number of hours a day that cars are banned from bus lanes could also be introduced.

It comes after Mr Sunak announced a watering down of net zero policies, including delaying the ban on new petrol and diesel cars by five years.

Speaking to BBC Radio Manchester on Thursday, Mr Sunak argued prioritising driving was the best policy, as “the vast majority” of journeys made are in cars.

It is gearing up to be a key battleground in the run up to the next election, with Wales’ Labour-led government coming under fire over the rollout of a 20mph speed limit to nearly all residential roads.

The Department for Transport described reports outlining Mr Sunak’s plans as “speculation”, while Downing Street declined to comment.

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Any policy announcements could help to divert attention over the future of HS2 as Mr Sunak remained tight-lipped over the scheme’s fate.

In a string of broadcast interviews on Thursday, the prime minister hit out at “speculation” but declined to be drawn over whether he will scrap the rail project’s Birmingham to Manchester leg over soaring costs.

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If it were to be axed, it would be the latest scaling back of the project, with the eastern route to Leeds scrapped entirely and work between Birmingham and Crewe delayed due to the impact of inflation.

Some estimates have put the total cost at more than £100bn, while the project has been rated “unachievable” by the infrastructure watchdog.


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