Angela Rayner admits ULEZ is coming to every town
Rishi Sunak has ordered a review of the rollout of low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) – and insisted that he is on the side of motorists.
It comes after the Conservatives’ 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 Mr Sunak to engage in a rethink on net zero, amid hopes of attacking Labour’s green ambitions.
The move is likely to infuriate climate change activists like Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion. And it is unlikely to be welcomed by London Mayor Sadiq Kahn, who refused to rule out more clean air schemes being rolled out across London after his court victory to expand ULEZ.
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The measures are also designed to encourage uptake of other modes of transport. But the adoption of the policies has attracted the ire of some Tory MPs, who have criticised the measures as attacks on motorists.
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.”
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The spread of LTNs in recent months has emerged as a concern among some on the right of the Conservative Party. 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.
This is not the first time Mr Sunak has hit out at LTNs. In last summer’s Tory leadership contest, he promised to review the policies to consider the impact on emergency services.
In the same interview, Mr Sunak knocked back calls to change the deadline for the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel car sales. He told the paper: “The 2030 target has been our policy for a long time and continues to be. We are not considering a delay to that date.”
But he doubled-down on attacks on Sir Keir Starmer amid the row over the Ulez scheme, which is being pushed by London Mayor Sadiq Khan. The Labour leader and other senior party 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. “I’ve become slightly more alarmed by the Labour Party’s position. It’s quite anti-motorist,” Mr Sunak claimed.
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