RMBC leader reacts to MP’s talk of Rotherham congestion zone

THE leader of Rotherham Council has spoken out following reports of Labour’s changing policy around low emission zones.

Cllr Chris Read called for caution when speculating on Labour’s policies after Sir Keir Starmer reportedly scrapped his commitment to clean air zones in the UK.

Sir Keir’s change of heart could have been influenced by the party’s failure to win the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election last month with the Tories holding Boris Johnson’s seat after campaigning heavily against London’s ultra-low emission zone.

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Cllr Read said: “The Labour party will publish in its manifesto before the next election detailed plans for how the next Labour government will improve the lives of people in our country – and until then I would be wary of speculating too much on policy documents.

“But you would have to be a lunatic to think that Labour was ever going to be introducing a charging zone for people driving in central Rotherham.

“The Tories threatened us with charging more than five years ago as part of their clean air zone plan and we fought off their proposal at that time, demonstrating that there was no need here.

“Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, small Rotherham businesses are still being affected by the charges that the Conservatives did force onto Sheffield and other cities because this government declined to give them the level of support that we were asking for.”

Rother Valley MP Alexander Stafford had earlier claimed that a clean air zone was coming to Rotherham, accusing the local authority of refusing to rule out “charging for accessing our town centre”.