Eco-plan to slice city into 5 zones branded 'pathetic' by locals

War of the roads: How ‘authoritarian’ eco-plan to slice historic city into five ‘driving zone’ is only the latest bid to eradicate motorists from Britain’s towns and cities

  • Britain under siege from anti-driving regulations making peoples’ lives a misery
  • Canterbury latest city to be targeted with five new driving zones
  • Furious locals would be fined for driving their cars in and out of city areas 

Over the last few years, Britain’s towns and cities have been getting slowly and irreparably transformed by council zealots obsessed with driving motorists off the road.

Pushed through by ‘authoritarian, Stasi like’ councilmen with green agendas, many of the UK’s most bustling cities have been rendered no-go zones for drivers due to new draconian regulations. 

In the latest experiment cooked up by eco-nutters, Kent’s only city will be swallowed, digested, spat out and carved into five new restrictive driving zones which will split locals into districts – turning Canterbury into a 15-minute city in all but name. 

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.’ 

Canterbury is the next target for eco-zealots who have announced a ‘stasi-like’ local driving plan

The Canterbury Circulation Plan proposes to divide the cathedral city in Kent into five zones and driving to a new section must be accessed via an outer ring-road instead of driving directly between each. Pictured: The proposed five zones

Bollards were placed in a street in Cowley near Oxford to create a Low Traffic Neighbourhood in 2021 (pictured). On Divinity Road, bollards were taken by vandals

The ultra-low emission zone is to be expanded in August to cover the whole of Greater London – seen here in purple 

The controversial ULEZ scheme was rolled out in 2021 under the justification of cutting air pollution but has been drastically unpopular with some drivers who feel they have been priced out of their areas. 

What is a 15-minute city?

The 15-minute city is an urban planning idea in which most daily necessities and services, such as work, shopping, education, healthcare and leisure can be easily reached by a 15-minute walk or bike ride. 

The plan behind it is to reduce car dependency, promote healthy and sustainable living and improve the overall quality of life for city dwellers. 

Melbourne, and the NSW cities of  Wollongong and Coffs Harbour, are aiming to adapt to a series of 15-minute cities. 

Conspiracy theorists believe the urban planning idea is instead a dark idea from the world’s elite to control society.

In Hackney, a Labour-run council is set to ban most vehicles from 75 per cent of its roads as it expands its network of low-traffic neighbourhoods. 

The east London borough already has the highest number of LTNs in the capital with 19 and half of its roads restricted by traffic filters.

The plans will increase this to three quarters of its streets putting more money into the pocket of Hackney Council through the inevitable fines. 

In fact, since their introduction, LTNs have helped local councils around the country generate up to £100million from fines on unwary motorists, according to analysis by the TaxPayers’ Alliance campaign group.

The cacophony of dissatisfaction and powerlessness drivers have voiced to increasingly draconian new traffic laws has sparked debate over 15-minute cities, a loose concept that idealizes the notion people living in cities should be able to access all necessary amenities in 15 minutes. 

Far from being seen as a green Utopia, some people have lamented steps towards the system as a form of sinister government control rather than a step towards improving lives.

Canterbury’s controversial new ‘circulation plan’ makes it one of a number of UK cities looking to enforce restrictions on motorists in a bid to ease congestion and improve air quality. 

Canterbury City Council argued the proposals would cut congestion but the plans were instead branded ‘authoritarian, Stasi-like, and anti-democratic’ by opposing councilors and even a ‘climate change lockdown’ by Nigel Farage. 

On the ground, less than half a year after the proposals were announced, locals are still trying to get their head around what it means for the city and their everyday lives. 

Canterbury is the next target for eco-zealots who have announced a ‘stasi-like’ local driving plan

Under the new scheme traffic would be divided up into 5 restrictive zones 

Estate agent Holly Kennedy said she thought the new plans were ‘chaotic’ whilst business owner Pete Petri says they’d dampen trade 

Holly Kennedy has travelled into the city from Deal for the last two years for her job as an estate agent.

The 25-year-old said the traffic is a ‘nightmare’ but did not think the proposed changes would help.

What is the Canterbury Circulation Plan and how will it affect motorists?

The Canterbury Circulation Plan will work by dividing the city into five zones, which are based on the major routes in plus the city centre.

The proposals will see more room given to pedestrians, cyclists and buses on the city’s inner ring road, while private cars will get less room.

Drivers won’t be able to drive from one side of the city to another by passing through the centre of Canterbury, in order to ease any potential extra congestion this will cause.

Some residents will be exempt – as well as delivery vehicles, taxis and Blue Badge holders – but the system will be managed by automatic number plate recognition (ANPR).

Anyone needing to access another zone must use the outer ring-road, the A2 which will have new junctions.

As part of the plans, there will be an Eastern Movement Corridor which connects the A28 and A257 with the A2 and an upgraded Rough Common Road.

Meanwhile, car parks will be moved to match the new system.

The Canterbury Circulation Plan aims to cut congestion and tackle pollution, however plans are ‘some years down the line’.

Holly said: ‘I drive into Canterbury from Deal and it’s a nightmare during rush hour.

‘The roads get blocked and it becomes absolute gridlock.

‘I’ve heard about the new plans but I don’t see how it will help at all.

‘It’s going to make everything more chaotic and that is the last thing we need.

‘It’s just seems to be a lot more effort than its worth. This city traffic needs changing but I don’t think complicating it is the way to do it.

‘If they do get come in I will still travel this way because I’ll have no choice. I can imagine it will make commuting here even more stressful and tedious than it already is.’

Local businesses are also up in arms and have argued that after two years of Covid hell which has affected trade the scheme will only worsen things.  

Pete Petri runs City Fish Bar just off the High Street and was well aware of the planned changes.

The 45-year-old branded the scheme ‘pathetic’ and believed it would harm small businesses in the area.

He said: ‘It’s a pathetic idea. Pathetic. It’s just going to make things a million times worse, I don’t see what they are trying to do.

‘This city is dead as it is now and it’ll get worse. No one comes into town anymore because of the traffic anyway and now people will be put off even more.

‘I run a fish and chip shop in the town and times are hard enough for small business owners without stuff like this making it a million times harder.

‘I don’t see how it will possibly reduce traffic at all. It’s only going to be a headache for commuters and a pain for locals.

‘I’ll continue driving in the city as I need to but I’m sure a lot of people will just stop coming here rather than deal with the ridiculous rules.’

As with any new initiative, there are personal as well as financial costs. 

The circulation plan would mean drivers are penalised from driving from one zone to another – meaning they will instead have to drive out of one neighbourhood onto a new ring road around the city, before re-entering their chosen section. 

Phillip Westwood, 72, lives in Sturry village but needs to drive through the proposed zonal scheme to visit his elderly mum in Canterbury.

He was concerned that the new proposals would make it harder for him to care for her.

He said: ‘I come from Sturry to pick my mum up from near the hospital. If this gets introduced it’s going to be a nightmare for me.

‘It might help the commuters during rush hour, I’m not too sure as I’m not affected by it really, but I know it will make my day to day life a lot harder.

‘It will mean I have to do a real loop to get her. I’m sure there are hundreds of people in a similar spot to me, carers and other people who have to take care of their elderly relatives.

‘Having added things to worry about is not helpful at all. I just think it shows a real lack of thought from the council.’

Under new plans key ring roads and entry points into Canterbury would be restricted from locals

Many city roads and rat runs would be out of bounds for residents

Student Lauren Suart and social worker Alison Goss both rubbished the scheme

The proposal is modelled on a system used in the Belgian city of Ghent and will encourage residents to walk, cycle or use public transport.

Visitors and tourists will also no longer be able to use car parks within the historic city walls under the plans – and parking areas will therefore have to be moved to match the revised system, which is yet to be approved. 

Lauren Suart, 18, grew up in Canterbury and also thinks the proposals would have a negative affect on the city.

The geography student said: ‘I’m not a fan of it personally. Traffic is difficult a lot of times here but I don’t see how this will help.

‘I think it’s just going to encourage rule breaking. Locals are going to get sick to death of it and will try to find ways round it – which basically defeats the whole point of it.

‘Trying to come to the supermarket under these new rules would be horrible. I’d be trying to pop into the shop quickly and end up driving round the city.’

Social worker Alison Goss, 52, travels to the city often for her job as a social worker and also blasted the ‘rubbish’ scheme.

She said: ‘It’s complete rubbish. They’ll spend millions changing it only to change it to something else. Temporary traffic lights will be up and they’ll tear the whole place up for nothing.

‘These councillors just sit in there offices and do nothing. They don’t know how it works. Using our tax payers money to buy their coffee and wine and go out for their lovely dinners.

‘People are gonna be late for work. Everything will become so much more stressful. Why don’t we get a say about road systems?

‘It definitely should not go ahead.’

In order to enforce the unpopular scheme, Canterbury City Council has said they would enlist that most nefarious of snitches: the Automatic Number Plate Reading (ANPR) camera. 

These would at entry and exit points to each of the areas and would stop drivers from sneaking between neighbourhoods without facing a fine.

John Bradley, 77, has lived in Canterbury for 45 years and is strongly against the plan as it would ‘destroy’ the area.

He said: ‘It’s going to destroy everything. If I come into town it’s going to cost me a fortune in parking but to go round the outside is going to cost me a fortune in petrol.

‘It’s going to make it all so much worse and I’m not the only one who thinks that. It’s a terrible idea.

‘There’s no sense in it all. It’s just a way of making money as far as I can see. All councils are the same.’

Image shows heavy traffic queuing past the old city walls in Canterbury, Kent  

Locals insist there is another way to solve the problem

The reason why such drastic changes have even been suggested in the tiny city is due to its admittedly enormous traffic problems. 

Almost as common a sight as the Cathedral in Canterbury is that of heavy traffic queuing past the old city walls on  the current ring road. 

Locals are in agreement that something needs to change, but the prospect of the circulation plan is not seen as an alternative worth thinking about.  

Kieran Vincett, 35, travels in from nearby Herne Bay everyday for his job.

The painter and decorator said traffic was awful in the city but that the measures would not help.

He said: ‘I hate coming here. Getting into the city during rush hour is an impossible task so I hope something will be done about it.

‘It would definitely make a lot of us happy if they tackled it.

‘But I don’t see this working. It’s too difficult to work and it’s just making things harder and harder for people who have to come here everyday.’

Canterbury City council has defended their proposals  

MailOnline approached Canterbury City Council for a response to residents concern. 

In response, Conservative leader Ben Fitter-Harding, seen by many residents as the progenitor of the plans defended the scheme and said that if it comes through in 15 years time it would only be with public backing. 

He explained: ‘Our focus is on resolving the long-standing congestion issues the city faces and improving car journey times, public transport, cycling and walking that all suffer as a result. 

‘Our key policy for doing this is to build a new bypass for the city, with new junctions to make it easier to enter at the best point for your destination rather than having to cross the city centre itself.

I personally believe that this new road network will rule out the need for any further interventions, with drivers using it to avoid congestion and with through-traffic bypassing the city altogether. 

‘However, I, and the Council, believe in early engagement, and so we have also consulted on the future possibility of reallocating city centre road space to improve public transport, cycling and walking once the bypass is built and cars are able to freely move around the city without using the partial inner ring road or constrained medieval streets.

‘If residents were to support that course of action in the future then we’d be looking at implementing it in some 15 years time. 

‘Unlike other councils, this is not a top-down fait accompli. It’s an open conversation about how we solve the congestion problem that has plagued the city of Canterbury for decades.

What our transport mix will look like in 15 years time we cannot be sure, though it’s highly likely that most vehicles will be electric by then and not petrol. 

‘By the time any action is considered there will have been at least two more council terms and two more Local Plan reviews. 

‘What matters most to me is that we give our residents and businesses choices and that we listen, learn and adapt; and that’s exactly what our council is doing.’

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