Sunak’s home council expanding 20mph zones but PM says it’s ‘attack on drivers

The Conservative council which covers Rishi Sunak’s own North Yorkshire constituency is expanding the use of 20mph zones in the area, despite the Prime Minister’s claims that they are an “attack on motorists”.  

The Tory-run North Yorkshire County Council, which is responsible for setting speed limits in the county, rolled out a huge expansion of 20mph zones last month in Harrogate – the biggest in the council’s history. 

The council’s own impact assessment said the measures have an “overall positive effect on road user safety”, the i reports.

Keane Duncan, the council’s executive member for highways, praised the move, calling it a “testament to the collective determination of schools, families and councillors to respond to public concerns and deliver ambitious action.”

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He added: “It sets a positive example and leads the way for communities across North Yorkshire.”

Duncan was chosen by Conservative Party members to stand for the Mayor of York position at its next election in May 2024. 

This all comes despite Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s claims this weekend that 20mph speed limits were “an attack on the day-to-day lives of people across the UK”.

Sunak’s Richmond (Yorks) constituency has its speed limits set by North Yorkshire County Council, although it is unclear yet whether a 20mph expansion into Richmond is planned.

It comes as Sunak pushes an alleged “pro-motorist” agenda, while also rolling back on green policies, to create a dividing line between the Conservatives and Labour as the next General Election looms. 

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Sunak’s Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, told the Conservative Party Conference that the Department for Transport would fight the 20mph zones, which were “yet another way to punish drivers”. 

Harper claims they “may actually increase pollution and [it] risks motorists ignoring 20mph zones where they are needed”. 

He continued: “we will change the Department for Transport guidance, requiring councils to only use 20mph zones where there is a good reason and underlining that 30mph is the default speed limit on urban roads.” has contacted the PM’s office and North Yorkshire County Council for comment.

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