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Lib Dem councillor quits over ‘tax on NHS heroes’

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A councillor says it took him 0.68 seconds to resign from the ruling Liberal Democrat group on South Cambridgeshire District Council.

It followed disagreement over a Cambridge congestion charge.

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”.

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His resignation letter, published today, 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.

“I am, quite frankly, disgusted as well as disappointed that such a stance is not consistent with membership of the Lib Dem grouping at South Cambs District Council led by Bridget Smith.

“Twelve months ago, I was an ordinary voter. I was not a member of any political party.

“Despite my frequently expressed doubts that I was a good fit for any political party, I was persuaded to stand, not least because no one else would.

“I said from the start that my first and only duty would be to serve my friends and neighbours in Over and Willingham.

“I shall continue to serve them as best I can as an independent councillor.”

Cllr Lentell added: “Therefore, consider this my resignation from the group led by Bridget Smith.”

His letter was sent to Cllr Jose Hales, whip for South Cambs Lib Dem group.

He told Cllr Hales: “The decision in case you are interested took me 0.68 seconds to process after having read your letter. For a person of honour that is nearly an eternity.”

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He signed off: “In peace, if not in fellowship.”

A congestion charge for Cambridge could come in within five years under plans put forward by the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP).

A £5 charge would be payable for all private vehicles in the city between 07:00 and 19:00 on weekdays.

The GCP said its proposals rely on a major improvement to public transport.

Cambridgeshire County Council will have the final say.

Transport Director at the GCP, Peter Blake, said: “This is a once in a generation opportunity to create a world-class transport network for Greater Cambridge and the wider area to drive a real step change in the way we travel.”

A petition opposed to the congestion charge was started by Liam Geraghty and has so far attracted 15,000 signatures.

It says: “There is now a proposal to start charging all motorists £5 a day to enter/leave or drive around the city of Cambridge between 7am-7pm Mon-Fri.

“I strongly believe this will impact the businesses and individuals at a time when they can ill afford it. This will do nothing to help congestion as most drivers especially those whose journeys start from outside the city have little option but to drive for work or to conduct their business.

“The city needs to at least look long term into providing clean efficient alternatives to combustion vehicles including the diesel buses which it seems to favour.

“This is merely a further tax affecting the working poor and the residents of Cambridge.

“Please join me in opposing this blanket charge.”

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