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What are the Tories going to do for us? Pay-per-mile road tax ban in 2024 Conservative manifesto

Conservative Party election manifesto pledges to address multiple issues facing drivers, including rules surrounding tax and the standard of our roads

London Roads

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced the Conservative Party’s manifesto ahead of the 2024 general election and it has some interesting offerings to motorists. 

The document sets out the numerous pledges we’ve heard during the campaign and previously, including the recently announced Backing Drivers Bill which aims to impose restrictions surrounding blanket 20mph zones, a ban on pay-per-mile road tax schemes and a reversal of the recent expansion of ULEZ to outer London.

This proposed set of new laws will put into motion several of the pledges made last year as part of the government’s so-called ‘Plan For Drivers’. While restrictions on blanket 20mph zones in England were first detailed in October 2023, the proposed rules now extend to Wales. The bill would also require such schemes to be put to a local referendum and give residents a ‘right to challenge’ controversial pre-existing schemes – including Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) introduced by councils.

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The Conservatives’ ban on pay-per-mile ‘road pricing’, which runs contrary to recommendations made in 2022 by the Transport Select Committee that the government should explore such a scheme, is also highlighted in the manifesto. Transport Secretary Mark Harper claimed a pay-per-mile tax model would inevitably “price the poorest off our roads”, when he announced the party’s policy in recent days.

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The Conservative Party has also said it would “unilaterally reverse” the latest expansion of the capital's controversial Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ), even though London’s Labour mayor Sadiq Khan was re-elected last year with expansion as a key policy. However, the Conservatives say that the impact of ULEZ has only resulted in a “‘moderate’ to ‘minor’ impact on emissions” and while the government does not yet have the power to reverse the scheme, the new Backing Driver’s Bill would give it the means to do so

Outside the Backing Drivers Bill, the Conservatives have promised to enable mayors and local authorities to bypass current restrictions and build ‘strategic’ new roads in order to improve traffic flow. The party has also doubled down on its £8.3 billion pledge – funded by the cancellation of the second phase of HS2 – to address the UK’s pothole problem.

Finally, the Conservatives have reaffirmed their commitment to PumpWatch – the scheme that aims to provide all motorists with live fuel pricing data – as well as the development of a universal National Parking Platform app, which is being designed to simplify the payment process at public car parks.

The announcement of the Conservative Party manifesto comes a day after the Liberal Democrats unveiled their plans which included a reinstatement of the EV plug-in car grant. More of the major parties are expected to announce their election manifestos later this week, with Labour’s conference scheduled for Thursday 13 June.

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Consumer reporter

Tom is Auto Express' Consumer reporter, meaning he spends his time investigating the stories that matter to all motorists - enthusiasts or otherwise. An ex-BBC journalist and Multimedia Journalism graduate, Tom previously wrote for partner sites Carbuyer and DrivingElectric and you may also spot him throwing away his dignity by filming videos for the Auto Express social media channels.

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