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Can Sunak’s ‘motorist plan’ resonate with local voters?

Rishi Sunak’s “Plan for Motorists” will be the centerpiece of his speech at the Conservative party conference, as he seeks to boost the party’s poll ratings. The plan includes a pushback on low-traffic neighborhood schemes and a crackdown on parking charges. There may also be stricter rules around the introduction of 20mph zones in England and potential restrictions on local government spending, with some funds dedicated solely to roads. However, the effectiveness of these measures is still uncertain, as there is limited opinion polling data on public support for such initiatives. Additionally, local traffic arrangements are typically managed by local authorities, making them a key campaign issue for Conservative councillors rather than a national concern.

When local council elections are held, they often become referendums on the national government’s handling of major issues, unless the local council has significantly mismanaged traffic. While traffic schemes like low-traffic neighborhoods and clean air zones have been implemented by the Conservative government in Westminster, they have not gained much support from Conservative activists in the country. Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors have been the driving force behind these schemes. However, in some areas where these traffic schemes have been unpopular and influenced local election results, Labour MPs should be concerned. The success or failure of these schemes could make a difference between a Labour majority government or a Labour government in alliance with the Liberal Democrats. Conservative MPs in marginal constituencies should also take note, as Labour and Lib Dem support for these schemes has not hindered their gains in recent elections.

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