Eco-zealot councillors have u-turned on draconian plans to split a historic city up into five driving zones and fine motorists for crossing the boundaries.
The controversial experiment would have seen Canterbury, Kent’s only city, carved apart, as council chiefs threatened to penalise motorists for driving from one zone to another, as they pushed to make the tourist hotspot a ’15-minute city’.
Residents and tourists would have to drive out of one neighbourhood, onto a new ring-road around the cathedral city, before re-entering their chosen section.
Modelled on a system used in the Belgian city of Ghent, the proposals were part of a draft Local Plan, aimed at easing congestion, which encouraged residents to walk, cycle or use public transport instead.
The eco-plan was just the latest bid to eradicate motorists from Britain’s towns and cities. In Oxford, frustrated drivers have assaulted pensioners after their council pushed through a trial scheme requiring motorists to pay for 100 day permits to drive through new £6.5m ‘traffic filters’ on six arterial roads in the city.
Should residents fail to pay their permits or be caught out they will be liable for a £70 fine for driving on the roads their council tax contributions have paid for.
Meanwhile in London, Mayor Sadiq Khan’s plan to increase ULEZ to all outer London boroughs – forcing Londoners to pay £12.50 a day to drive around – has been blasted as relying on data that’s ‘complete nonsense.’
Critics blasted the so-called Canterbury Circulation Plan for essentially banning short trips by car to supermarkets, cafes and GP surgeries.
Canterbury City Council argued the proposals would cut traffic but the plans were instead branded ‘authoritarian, Stasi-like, and anti-democratic’ by opposing councillors and even a ‘climate change lockdown’ by Nigel Farage.
The original proposals – drawn up last year by Canterbury City Council (CCC) under former Conservative Council Leader Ben Fitter-Harding – would have seen Automatic Number Plate Reading (ANPR) cameras operate at entry and exit points of each area, preventing drivers from sneaking between neighbourhoods.
And visitors and tourists would also no longer have been able to use car parks within the historic city walls.
But now CCC’s new Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition has announced it will be reviewing the draft Local Plan after it caused a ‘great deal of concern’ for residents.
The local authority said a rejection of the idea of zoning the city was a key theme that arose from public feedback.