Transport Secretary to announce parking app that streamlines paying process for drivers

A national app will allow drivers to pay for parking anywhere in the country
A national app will allow drivers to pay for parking anywhere in the country - monkeybusinessimages/iStockphoto

A national parking app enabling drivers to pay charges anywhere in the country is to be unveiled by ministers under plans to “slam the brakes” on anti-car measures.

Currently motorists have to download multiple parking apps on their mobile phones to pay charges in different local authority areas.

Mark Harper, the Transport Secretary, will announce next week that people will be able to download just one app of their choice which they can use wherever in the country they are.

The announcement comes ahead of the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Manchester, where Tory politicians and activists will gather tomorrow.

Rishi Sunak will use his first party conference as leader to unveil plans to block councils from introducing new 20mph zones and prevent their “blanket use” in areas where it is not appropriate, as well as new measures to tackle potholes and roadworks.

Last night the Prime Minister said: “For too long, politicians have focused on the short-term decisions with little regard for the long-term impact on hard-working families.

“We’ve seen this consistently with people’s freedoms on transport. The clampdown on motorists is an attack on the daily lives of most people across the UK who rely on cars to get to work or see their families.

“This week the UK Government will set out a long-term plan to back drivers, slamming the brakes on anti-car measures across England. We are taking the necessary decision to back the motorists who keep our country moving.”

Mr Sunak is expected to be asked about the plans in a pre-conference BBC interview on Sunday, ahead of his keynote speech on Wednesday.

The Telegraph understands that Mr Sunak will not announce an inheritance tax cut in his party conference speech, despite weeks of speculation the move was under consideration.

But he will face further pressure from low-tax Tories to take action, with Liz Truss, the former prime minister, leading calls for Mr Sunak to “reduce the tax burden” on Friday.

The Treasury has, however, moved to close down one area of speculation, confirming it would not end the universal winter fuel payment for pensioners after reports it could go.

Sunak backs drivers in road reforms

Mr Sunak will also face questions on the future of High Speed Rail Two, after fuelling speculation this week that the northern leg will be scrapped amid soaring costs. Boris Johnson on Friday told Mr Sunak he would be “out of his mind” to cancel the second leg, which is scheduled to connect Birmingham to Manchester.

Earlier this week Mr Sunak suggested that drivers were his priority because they make the majority of journeys.

The National Parking Platform, which has been piloted in Manchester, will be a key part of his plan for motorists.

He will also announce measures to tackle potholes caused by roadworks, where the Government will support councils to introduce more line rental schemes, requiring utility companies to pay to dig up the busiest roads at peak times. Ministers will also consult ways to consult on overrunning roadworks, such as extending fines for repairs which run into weekends.

Low traffic neighbourhoods will only be allowed if councils can prove that they have local consent under the plans, and so-called 15-minute cities, which restrict where people can drive, will be curtailed.

A range of other changes will aim to clamp down on overrunning roadworks and stop town halls from introducing revenue-raising traffic enforcement such as yellow-box junctions.

Ministers will consult on restricting the times that bus lanes operate and allow motorbikes to use them.

Mr Sunak will use his speech on Wednesday to build on an autumn reset aimed at spelling out more of his long-term policy vision and creating election dividing lines with Labour.

Yet Tory splits that still exist behind the scenes risk spilling out into the open, including on taxation, illegal immigration and benefits spending, during the four-day gathering.

Ms Truss and Dame Priti Patel are among prominent Tory tax-cutters who will attend a “Great British growth rally” at a conference on Monday which will challenge Mr Sunak’s focus on inflation.

Ms Truss tweeted on Friday: “This unprecedentedly high tax burden is one of the reasons our economy is stagnating and why we need to cut taxes to help make Britain grow again.

“We should always seek to reduce the tax burden, especially when there’s so much pressure on family budgets.”

Dame Priti told GB News: “The tax burden is now at a 70-year high. That is unsustainable. And the people that pay the taxes are hard pressed Brits around the country.”