The Transport Secretary has told the Conservative Party Conference he will “give people choice to make their lives easier and not to force them to travel in a certain way, or at a certain time,” as he announced a “comprehensive plan for drivers.”
Mark Harper told the audience in Manchester that in the UK, the most important mode of transport remains the car, van, lorry or motorbike, but that “Listening to some people, you’d think the car is immoral” and that “It’s the Conservative Party that is proudly pro-car.”
While he talked about being on track for zero emission vehicles to allow us to keep driving, Mr Harper criticised ULEZ in London as “a tax on the poorest drivers”. He also criticised blanket 20 mph limits in Wales and the country’s “ideological ban on road building and plans to drive on the M4, and road charging across Wales”. He stated that right across our country “there is a Labour-backed movement to make cars harder to use and driving more expensive” and that “It’s time to act”
His plan for drivers included a ban on the “misuse of 15 minute cities”, and to look at how to “restrict overzealous use of traffic management measures” by councils, including cutting them off from the DVLA database if they don’t follow the rules.
He discussed how, while 20 mph zones are “a good way to protect schools, quiet residential streets and rat runs”, they should not be used to “punish drivers”. He promised to change the Department for Transport guidance to require councils to only use 20 mph when there is a clear reason, and that 30 mph is the default limit on urban roads. He also said he’d stop councils “using unfair fines”.
“We’ll make it easier to drive and ride, to park,” he said. “We’ll tune up traffic lights to make traffic flow,”, suggesting more funding for traffic signals maintenance and upgrades, following on from the £15 million awarded through the Transport Technology Forum to authorities two years ago.
He also confirmed the new National Parking Platform and promised a “comprehensive range of measures to help councils tackle the menace of potholes.”
(Picture from the Conservative Conference courtesy BBC News)