Council U-turns on ‘impossible and unpopular’ traffic splitting scheme

A council is set to U-turn on a “controversial and unpopular” traffic fining scheme after more than 24,000 “loud and clear” representations from residents and businesses against the plans.

The Canterbury Circulation Plan was supposed to tackle emissions in the historic Kent City by splitting it into five zones.

Based on a scheme in Ghent, Belgian, the zoning plan could have seen residents and tourists face un-disclosed fines for crossing boundaries policed by ANPR cameras.

To avoid fines beleaguered motorists would be forced to use the ring road instead of normal routes. Bizarrely, for a scheme designed to reduce emissions, in some cases this would make a one-mile journey ten miles long, the Telegraph reports.

Former Conservative council leader Ben Fitter-Harding was reportedly the driving force behind the plans which were said not to be a “war on motorists”.

READ MORE… Tory MP demands ‘flip-flopping’ Sir Keir Starmer gives his views on ULEZ

Mr Fitter-Harding lost his seat this year and Canterbury’s new Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition have said they are reviewing the plans which were mooted to come into force by 2025, although no firm date was set.

The Telegraph reports Alan Baldock, leader of the council, said at a Cabinet meeting on July 10: “By their very nature, local plans are full of difficult decisions.

“There is a process and we have no choice but to follow it. That process forces councillors to make sometimes impossible, controversial and unpopular choices.

“Why do we need to think again? As officers carry on working through the mammoth task of analysing consultation responses from more than 2,000 individuals and organisations to the Regulation 18 consultation – more than 24,000 individual representations all together – that message is coming through loud and clear.”

The Canterbury proposals are part of a number of Lower Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) across the UK facing increasing scrutiny from the government.

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Local councils have been barred by the Department for Transport from using any of a £200million active transport fund for new LTNs.

This week Conservative Secretary of State for Transport Mark Harper MP wrote to Sir Keir Starmer urging him to make to put on record his views on the ULEZ expansion in London.

The Tories held Boris Johnson’s former seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip against Labour in a recent by-election in what some have seen as a message from voters against green policies expanding during a cost-of-living crisis.

In recent days Sir Keir has declined to say if London’s charge on polluting vehicles should go ahead, with senior party figures quick to urge London Mayor Sadiq Khan to reflect on the policy in the wake of the by-election.

A similar debate was opened up among Conservatives following the success at Uxbridge with some Tories calling on the Prime Minister to rethink the approach to reaching net zero by 2050.

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