Liberal Democrats say they were banned from handing out leaflets on Ely Market explaining a new 20mph speed limit proposed for the city.
At the end of July, a consultation was launched for a 20mph speed limit for the whole of Ely.
It was due to close on 24th August, but following local feedback and the summer holidays, City of Ely Council has extended the consultation period until 21st September 2023.
Lib Dems said the process to introduce 20mph began a year ago, and the designs were shared with all Ely councillors earlier this year.
A party spokesperson said: “So imagine the amazement when on Thursday 24th August, the Ely markets manager, forced Cllr Christine Whelan to leave the marketplace and stop sharing details of the consultation”.
“Liberal Democrat councillors Lorna Dupré, Charlotte Cane, Piers Coutts and Alison and Christine Whelan have been handing out leaflets and talking to residents in Ely Marketplace for the last 2 Thursdays.
“Hundreds of leaflets have been handed out and people spoken to.”
The spokesperson said a number of councillors who have supported them including Conservatives, so the Lib Dems remained surprised that the Conservative controlled district council – who run the market – had stopped them leafleting.
Lib Dems said they had also been told that council leader Anna Bailey “claims not to have heard” about the 20mph consultations prior to them being published by the county council.
The spokesperson said: “In fact, Cllr Bailey claims that she was unaware except for a social media post several days later.
“The story was shared with the media and appeared on their online and printed versions, as well as on a number of social media posts shortly after being published.
“The formal notice would have been sent to the press prior to the publication. It is also listed on the news section of the City of Ely Council website.
“Surely the ECDC communications department would have picked this up and communicated with Cllr Bailey.
“But Cllr Bailey was unaware and claims that local people are still unaware that this consultation is happening.”
The spokesperson added: “The Liberal Democrats leafleted every house in Ely during the recent election campaign with communication about the 20mph scheme.
“Cllr Bailey, as leader of the council, has responsibility for the markets and therefore the manager preventing leaflets highlighting the consultation from being handed out.”
The scheme is expected to bring safety and air quality improvements and details of why 20mph schemes are being rolled out across the country are available at https://www.20splenty.org/
The Lib Dems say they have reminded East Cambs Council of this.
“As stated at https://www.gov.uk/find-licences/permission-to-distribute-leaflets ‘You do not need permission if the printed material is being distributed for political or religious purposes or other beliefs’”.
You can find more details about the proposal and how to submit comments here
East Cambridgeshire District Council has been asked to comment.
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