Cornwall Council has dismissed claims that it is considering introducing 15-minute travel limits in towns.

Claims have been made on social media that the council is set to follow other local authorities which have introduced 15-minute cities.

The concept aims to ensure people can live in areas which can access services easily by foot or cycle within a quarter-of-an-hour. The aim is to cut the number of short journeys which people make by car to improve air quality, reduce emissions and encourage more people to get out and exercise.

However, the idea has been misinterpreted by some as a way for local councils to restrict people from driving and try to raise money by enforcing fines. A significant online campaign has been built up claiming local councils are trying to stop people using their cars altogether.

On one Facebook page set up by people from Cornwall it has been claimed there had been a public meeting about implementing 15-minute travel areas in Cornwall but that just only two people had turned up. However, no such meeting ever took place.

The same post claimed Cornwall Council would be limiting people to only drive 15 minutes from their home and would monitor car use using ANPR cameras. They claimed that it was “to prevent ownership of personal cars”.

In fact, if 15-minute cities as a concept was introduced, it would actually be doing the complete opposite and would be discouraging people from using their cars for short distances.

Some people on social media claimed the changes were set to be introduced in April.

But Connor Donnithorne, Cornwall Council cabinet member for transport, dismissed the claims saying: “That’s simply not true. I just confirmed with senior officers. I certainly wouldn’t support creating 15-minute time limits in people’s ability to travel.”

Conspiracy theories about 15-minute cities and zones are the latest to circulate on social media. Some people have claimed it is an attempt to confine people to a certain area which has been strongly denied by those areas which have introduced them.

The concept is not new and has existed for decades. It has also proved to be successful in areas where access to services is relatively easy on foot and by bike.