Plan for Drivers revelations

From active travel to backing drivers

With Conservatives announcing a “Backing Drivers Bill”, it’s time to shed light on how ministers went from strong support of healthy travel to hindering it in a matter of months. While excerpts of these ministerial briefings have been quoted in the media, they have not been made fully public before. TAN obtained the documents through legal correspondence via solicitors, as part of our efforts to ensure the Government was acting lawfully. We believe it is in the public interest to see how the Government u-turned between July 2022 and early 2023.

There are four documents here:

  1. Email readout from 15 Minute City submission – 23 March 2023
  2. Tactical Notes on LTNs and Annex on Gear Change – 17 April 2023
  3. LTN advice to No.10 – 1 August 2023
  4. Covering email with LTN review advice and annexes – 31 August 2023

Besides these documents, an excerpt of a 15 minute city briefing for ministers was shared. This stated:

Options to restrict schemes which may be associated with 15 minute cities  


There are opportunities for the Department to emphasise its ambition to encourage active travel and modal choice as opposed to restricting private car access/travel through upcoming updates to the Local  Transport Plan Guidance and Manual for Streets. In addition, or alternatively, officials could produce a  standalone document that proactively communicates a positive set of policies for motorists such as the  reduction in fuel duty and digitisation and innovation in motoring services.  

Statutory guidance powers:  

Section 18 of the Traffic Management Act includes a power for the SofS to issue guidance on  techniques of traffic management’ to help local authorities in fulfilling the NMD. LAs must ‘have regard  to this guidance when considering how best to manage their roads. This guidance could be updated  and state that measures which restrict vehicle movement are not favoured by the Department.  

Additional NMD guidance was originally published during the COVID19 pandemic in May 2020 to build on and embed increases in walking and cycling seen during that time. This focused on reallocation of road space to people walking and cycling. This guidance could be updated to remove reference to modal filters (in particular closing roads to motor traffic) or removed altogether with new guidance issued with takes a stronger stance on traffic filters and measures which restrict vehicular movement. 

The fact that it was found acceptable to row back on Gear Change commitments, without informing the public, while also using the same commitments to prop up its climate busting roadbuilding programme, highlights the duplicitous nature of this Government.

If you found this interesting, please consider supporting TAN. As a small NGO, every pound donated helps us continue our work for sustainable and healthy travel.


Signing up will allow you to access our monthly newsletter and the latest actions and events