Transport Secretary Mark Harper says ‘over-zealous’ councils which use motorists as ‘cash cows’ could be stripped of their ability to fine drivers

  • Transport Secretary threatens to cut ‘over-zealous’ councils off DVLA database
  • Mr Harper also called time on ‘sinister’ 15-minute cities in conference speech

Town halls which use motorists as ‘cash cows’ face being stripped of their ability to fine drivers, the Transport Secretary warned yesterday.

Mark Harper has launched an investigation into how to curb ‘over-zealous’ councils from unfairly hitting drivers with a growing array of penalties.

Speaking at the Tory party conference, he said this included ‘cutting off councils from the DVLA database if they don’t follow the rules’.

This would prevent them from being able to check the registered owner of a vehicle, effectively stripping them of the ability to issue fines.

The move was part of a wider package of new measures unveiled yesterday aimed at ending the ‘war on motorists’ and showing that the Conservatives are the only ‘pro-car’ party.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper has launched an investigation into how to stop councils unfairly hitting motorists with a range of fines

The measures include changes to Government guidance so town halls will have to ‘properly listen’ to local opposition to ‘low-traffic neighbourhoods’ (LTNs), where some roads are closed off to cars.

Critics say they are often imposed on communities with little consultation and simply push traffic elsewhere, worsening tailbacks and increasing pollution due to idling engines. They are often enforced with CCTV and fines.

The overhaul will ensure that blanket 20mph speed limits on ‘restricted roads’ – which are 30mph by default in England – cannot be introduced to further ‘punish drivers’.

In Labour-run Wales, ministers imposed a blanket 20mph limit on these roads last month, affecting 7,700 miles of road.

Mr Harper also ‘called time’ on ‘sinister’ so-called ’15-minute cities’.

These aim to get people out of their cars by ensuring all amenities are only a 15-minute walk or cycle ride away – but critics argue they are an excuse for anti-motorist policies.

Under the overhaul, drivers will also be able to pay for parking anywhere in the country using a single app which will prevent them from having to download multiple smartphone applications for different locations.

Mr Harper went on to accuse Labour of ‘hammering’ motorists as part of a ‘long term plan to tax drivers’.

He pointed to the raft of anti-car measures introduced in Labour-controlled regions, including Wales’s 20mph blanket limit and London mayor Sadiq Khan’s expansion of the capital’s ultra-low emission zone, which Mr Harper branded ‘a Labour tax’ on driving.

He also pointed out that the Welsh government has banned new roads from being built and has indicated it could bring in road charging for using highways.

In his conference speech, Mr Harper also called time on 15-minute cities, which critics argue are an excuse for anti-motorist policies

Mr Harper said: ‘Labour will continue with their same failed approach: taxing the poorest motorists, political speed limits, banning road building.

‘Labour would put Just Stop Oil in the driving seat. They’d fix a camera on every lamppost and put a hand in every pocket.

‘Instead, we stand for freedom to travel how you want… the choice is clear, we’ve got a long-term plan to back drivers.

‘Labour has a long-term plan to tax drivers. We’re on the side of hard-working people, Labour wants to drive them off the roads altogether.

‘We will take the difficult decisions to put our county on the road to the future. Labour will condemn us to the slow lane.’

He added: ‘From listening to certain corners of the metropolitan bubble, you would think owning a car was immoral, a dirty habit, an optional extra in people’s lives.

‘Politicians like [Labour leader] Sir Keir Starmer, Sadiq Khan and [Welsh First Minister] Mark Drakeford are only interested in the short-term, taking the easy way out and making decisions that hammer motorists to seek praise from social media and London newspapers. It’s the Conservative party that’s proudly pro-car.’

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