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Ex Lib Dem ‘not fully grasped’ congestion charge

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A councillor who quit the Lib Dem group on South Cambridgeshire District Council was told by the council leader he had not “fully grasped” implications of the Cambridge congestion charge.

Cllr Bridget Smith said of Cllr Dan Lentell: “This is just the start of a big public debate about how transport around Cambridge will look in the future.

“Unfortunately, Dan does not seem to have fully grasped that.

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“The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) has put a scheme on the table for consultation. It is important that we look at that and give our view.

“Any future work will be based on the responses that we make.

“Councillors have a vital role in ensuring that residents’ voices are heard. Dan is doing that effectively.

“But we also need to follow the set processes for these sorts of schemes, including getting a full range of views through the consultation. This can be a lengthy process.

“I and colleagues had been discussing with Dan how he could best influence the scheme.

“But sadly, he appears to have felt frustrated that this was not happening as quickly as he wished.”

Cllr Lentell says it took him 0.68 seconds to resign from the ruling Liberal Democrat group on South Cambridgeshire following disagreement over a Cambridge congestion charge.

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Cllr Dan Lentell says he will “not support Cllr Bridget Smith (council leader) in her efforts to include Addenbrooke’s in the proposed congestion charge scheme for Cambridge”.

He said: “It is simply immoral to propose constructing a paywall between our residents and their NHS.

“And to improve an annual (after tax) pay cut of hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds on the NHS heroes who kept our health service alive during the darkest days of Covid.”

Cllr Lentell will continue to represent Over and Willingham but as an independent.

Cllr Smith said: “Dan has been an active councillor since he was elected, contributing to the life of the council, and representing the residents of Over and Willingham.

“It is great pity that Dan has left the group, as he was helping to shape policy and improve our services.

“Dan has very strong views about how the proposals could apply to Addenbrooke’s. I am sure that each of us has too.

“It is essential that everyone can conveniently access healthcare at Addenbrooke’s and the other hospitals.

“A scheme that did not greatly improve access for residents would be unacceptable. It is encouraging that so many people are already looking at the initial proposals from GCP, thinking through how they would work and telling us their views. “We are listening carefully and will be taking the feedback on board when it comes to making further proposals.”

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