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Tories pledge to scrap ULEZ extension and ban pay-per-mile taxes for drivers

The Conservatives’ ‘Backing Drivers Bill’ will ban road pricing, force local referendums on 20mph schemes, and scrap ULEZ extension

City Driving

Transport Secretary Mark Harper has outlined a new ‘Backing Drivers Bill’ that his party will enact if re-elected to government, with a raft of measures designed to widen the gap between Conservative and Labour policy before the general election.

According to Harper MP, who has represented the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire in parliament since 2005, the proposed bill speaks to voters living in towns and villages across the UK for whom the car is an essential mode of transport. 

Describing Labour as “city obsessed”, Harper claims Labour don’t understand or care about drivers. Writing in the Daily Mail, he pointed to Labour policy in Wales which “demonised” drivers with a blanket 20mph speed limit and a ban on new road infrastructure. Harper also targeted Sadiq Khan’s expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone to include Greater London, calling it an “aggressive and regressive tax on drivers, enforced by an Orwellian array of surveillance cameras”.

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Harper listed three main policies in the Conservative’s Backing Drivers bill proposal, the first of which is a pledge “to ban any kind of pay-per-mile scheme from appearing”. This is in spite of a February 2022 report from the Transport Select Committee which urged the government to consider pay-per-mile taxation - also known as road pricing - as a means to fill a revenue “black hole” in lost fuel duty as drivers transition to electric cars.

The Backing Drivers bill will also “unilaterally reverse” the extension of ULEZ to greater London by the Labour mayor, and will also “empower local people to have a vote on any Low Traffic Neighbourhoods or blanket 20mph schemes, and a right to challenge existing ones”, said Harper.

The latest Conservative play for drivers’ votes has been rebuffed by Labour. A party spokesman told Sky News that “Britain has 100 times more potholes than craters on the moon and car insurance costs are out of control. "Labour is on the side of drivers. We will tackle rip-off car insurance costs and break down planning barriers to ensure transport infrastructure is delivered and delivered on time.

"And we will leave decisions on safe school streets and local traffic measures to local communities - not politicians in Westminster."

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Current affairs and features editor

Chris covers all aspects of motoring life for Auto Express. Over a long career he has contributed news and car reviews to brands such as Autocar, WhatCar?, PistonHeads, Goodwood and The Motor Trader.

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