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PM announces review of 'low-traffic neighbourhoods’ and says he is 'on the side of motorists' – Guardian warns it’s a war he’ll lose

By Tom Gibson | August 1, 2023

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We take a look at both sides of the debate on low-traffic neighbourhoods and clean air policies

PM announces review of 'low-traffic neighbourhoods’ and says he is 'on the side of motorists' – Guardian warns it’s a war he’ll lose

Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has said he’s on the side of motorists as he announced a review of the roll out of low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) across the country.

LTNs became more prominent during lockdowns where residential or highly populated streets and areas were essentially given roadblocks, often in the form of wooden boxes containing bushes and trees, to prevent cars using certain roads.

The aim of LTNs was ultimately to reduce road usage and increase air quality and although they have fostered some support, they’ve also attracted criticism.

Speaking about the issue, Sunak said: '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.'

He also used the interview with the Sunday Telegraph to slam the Labour party as 'quite anti-motorist' amid anger over ULEZ expansion in London.

But in the same interview, Mr Sunak knocked back calls to change one major green policy - the 2030 deadline for a ban on new petrol and diesel car sales.

He said: 'The 2030 target has been our policy for a long time and continues to be. We are not considering a delay to that date.' 

The spread of LTNs in recent months has proven to be a big area of debate and, typically, it tends to be the media on the right who disapprove and the media on the left who want to see LTNs expand.

One example of this being in the Guardian, where columnist Christian Walmar has said to Sunak; You’ve declared war on people who want to curb car use. It’s one you’ll lose.

Walmar goes on to say; “There is, of course, no war on motorists. It is an invention of the Daily Mail and other rightwing newspapers that argue against any restriction on the freedom of motorists to act exactly as they wish… Sunak has now put himself firmly and foolishly on the side of the motoring libertarians.”

The ULEZ expansion is one such subject that Sunak’s party have been fighting against as part of this ‘war’ and, although Walmar believes Khan should have implemented a more comprehensive scrappage scheme and phased in the high £12.50 charge, he does say that ULEZ is essential to avoid us heading towards LA-style car domination that results in 12-lane highways. You can check whether your car is ULEZ compliant here.

Where do you sit on these issues? Can you not be pro-motorist but also want to live in cleaner air? Let us know in the comments. 

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