Currently reading: Sunak to curb 20mph zones in new pro-motorist agenda
Prime minister set to block councils from introducing 20mph limits as he tackles "anti-motorist" policies

Prime minister Rishi Sunak is expected to block English councils from introducing 20mph speed restrictions as he pushes forward with a "pro-motorist" agenda ahead of next year's general election. 

Sunak will announce his "plan for motorists" at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester on Monday 2 October, which is set to include a pro-driver package to win the voting favour of motorists.

This will reportedly introduce limits on the power of local authorities to introduce 20mph zones and enforce yellow-box junction rules, scale back low-traffic neighbourhood schemes and allow cars to drive in bus lanes for an increased number of hours per day.

A review into low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs), which aim to limit traffic levels and ‘rat-running’ in residential areas – through the use of bollards, temporary barriers, and reduced speed limits – was ordered over the summer after they drew criticism for pushing congestion onto other roads and hampered access granted to emergency vehicles. 

The RAC's head of policy, Simon Williams, said: “While we support the use of 20mph limits being used where they're needed most, implementing them in widespread fashion may unnecessarily lengthen journey times by slowing down traffic and possibly even increase congestion.

"We need councils to strike the right balance between making our roads safer and ensuring the smooth flow of traffic in all its forms. We need to see the detail of the PM’s plan to see whether what’s proposed will really help with that."

The latest development comes just a week after Wales became the first UK country to introduce mandatory 20mph speed limits for restricted roads. A study commissioned by the Department for Transport (DfT) earlier found the majority of residents supported 20mph limits in residential areas, due to claims that it reduced the number of accidents and casualties.

The move attracted criticism from both the Welsh Conservatives, who said it was "anti-worker" and "anti-motorist", and residents – some of the new 20mph signs quickly being vandalised. 

Transport for London (TfL) recently announced that the proportion of arterial routes limited to 20mph - commonly known as the Red Route network and carrying a third of the city's traffic - will increase from 16% to 20% by the end of next year.

Sunak's pro-motorist measures are expected to draw criticism after the introduction of the 2030 ICE car ban was delayed to 2035. However, he said that the government is still committed to the UK reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Jonathan Bryce

Jonathan Bryce
Title: Editorial Apprentice

Jonathan is an editorial apprentice working with Autocar. He has held this position since September 2022, having graduated from the University of Glasgow with a degree in Geography and Business & Management before moving to London to pursue a career in motoring journalism. 

His role at work involves writing news stories, updating and uploading articles for the Autocar website and making sure they are optimised for search engines, helping with social media and building his experience overall.

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rickerby 30 September 2023

Sunak and his rag bag of spivs charlatans and chancers are running out of road. This is them betting everything on red in a desperate attempt to make us all terribly grateful and forget the utter chaos of this government and the complete and utter contempt he and his cohort have shown to this country and it's citizens

iv3 29 September 2023

why not scrap HS2 and explore building a more cost-effective autobahn-style motorway instead? Not only could this lower construction and maintenance expenses, but it aligns with the rapid advancements in autopilot technology, potentially making high-speed motorway driving safer and more efficient. That's the real way to go!

rickerby 30 September 2023

There is absolutely no difference between the German Autobahn network and our Motorways except that some of them (an increasingly small number of them) have no speed limits. Our MotorwYs where based on the Autobahn designs from the 1930s. Germany manages to have not just one highe speed rail line but a whole network of them and its Autobahn's so it doesn't need to be either or.

Andrew1 30 September 2023
There are two differences:
- their road surface is better
- their drivers are better
xxxx 30 September 2023

German drivers are better are they andy1, is that why they have so many more road deaths than the UK. Another one of your statements blown out of the water.

Andrew1 30 September 2023
Yes, they are. I know because I've driven there many, many times.
They have more deaths because they have higher and no speed limits, which is what tories want for us. Funny how that backfired, isn't it?
xxxx 30 September 2023

So they have higher death rates because they drive to fast for  their ability, and you reckon that makes them better drivers, you really are a clown. 

Andrew1 30 September 2023
You don't understand the notion of accident.
You may be involved in one without doing anything wrong or speeding.

A pedestrian can jump in front on your car, a tyre may explode, someone might fall asleep at the wheel.

You are a nice driver obeying the speed limit and all the rules of the road, but there is nothing you can do to avoid it. Being hit at 80mph is very different to being hit at 60mph.

"clown" - like every brexitard out there, your ignorance is only matched by your arrogance.

iv3 30 September 2023

it doesn't need to be either or, if there is infinite money

Electricvanman 30 September 2023

Our network has more lanes but they are reduced by the moronic idiots who believe that their rightful place is the 2nd of 3, or 3rd of 4 lanes. Can't wait for a camera system to sort this out and issue automatic penalties.

Jeremy 29 September 2023

It'll never happen. They'll have lost the next election before this ever gets anywhere near a statute book. Thankfully!