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Tory leader boycotts Cambridge congestion charge rally for being political

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The leader of the opposition Conservative group on Cambridgeshire County Council refused to attend a Cambridge Congestion charge rally after accusing it of being about politics and not “about the voice of the people”.

Cllr Steve Count, a former council leader before his party’s defeat in the 2021 election, said the march against the congestion tax “should be about the voice of the people, not politics.

Cllr Steve Count, a former Conservative county council leader before his party’s defeat in the 2021 election, boycotted the congestion tax rally accusing it of being about politics and “not about the voice of the people”.

Cllr Steve Count, a former Conservative county council leader before his party’s defeat in the 2021 election, boycotted the congestion tax rally accusing it of being about politics and “not about the voice of the people”.

“Because of recent announcement I have therefore sadly decided not to attend”.

But he wished organisers well, tweeting that “I hope the march is successful and I will do my bit in the council chamber”.

A different tact was taken by Cllr Anna Bailey, the Conservative leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council.

She posted, to social media the day before “good luck to the organisers and all those marching tomorrow against the HATED CONgestion Charge.

“East Cambs Conservatives and the huge majority of residents of East Cambridgeshire are 100% behind you.”

Cllr Steve Count, a former Conservative county council leader before his party’s defeat in the 2021 election, boycotted the congestion tax rally accusing it of being about politics and “not about the voice of the people”.

Cllr Steve Count, a former Conservative county council leader before his party’s defeat in the 2021 election, boycotted the congestion tax rally accusing it of being about politics and “not about the voice of the people”.

However, she, too, didn’t attend.

“Best of luck, sorry I can’t be with you this time,” she said in a video message posted to Facebook.

“Keep up the fight.”

She said a proposed congestion charge for Cambridge was “terrible for east Cambs residents – a huge majority are against it”.

Jenny Clarke, a BBC reporter/ producer/ presenter at BBC Look East and lecturer in broadcast journalism at University of East Anglia, tweeted: “More than 1,000 people at #congestioncharge protest on Parker’s Piece in #Cambridge against plans to charge cars £5, vans £10 and hgvs £50 to drive into the city.”

Other reports suggested 5,000 attended the marches into the city on Sunday – Wisbech councillor Steve Tierney (Conservative) thought there were more although he didn’t attend.

“Lib, Labs and Indies gung ho for congestion-charging Cambridge faced a huge demo with 6,000 plus people today,” he tweeted. “The opposition to these car-hating movement-taxing people is growing.”

The Cambridge Conservative Party said three of their members were set to speak at the event before pulling out due to “security concerns”.

“This came after the announcement that Piers Corbyn, an anti-vaccine activist and brother of Jeremy Corbyn, was attending the event,” the Cambridge Conservatives said in a statement.

University newspaper Varsity reported that Piers Corbyn told them that “he attended the events because he is ‘against the GCP congestion charge, but also against low-traffic neighbourhoods, clean-air zones and fifteen minute cities… as part of the long-term plan of the World Economic Forum to end all car ownership’.

Varsity added that Corbyn repeatedly told them that vaccines, congestion charges, lockdowns and 5G towers were part of the agenda of “global elites” who believe in global depopulation. When Varsity challenged Corbyn on his views, Corbyn said that he had “a list of things that you call conspiracy theories” because “the BBC don’t tell you the truth”.

Varsity said they also spoke to another protester at the rally, who had travelled from Essex to attend, who claimed that the congestion charge in Cambridge would mean “you’re allowed to go out 100 times a year” in a car.

“The protester claimed that the plan was a ‘climate change lockdown’ and that ‘climate change doesn’t exist anyway’” reported Varsity.

Cllr Stephen Ferguson, the chair of Cambridgeshire County Council, responded on Twitter to Cllr Count’s non-attendance.

“Are you not attending because of safety concerns because you didn’t want to be photographed with Piers Corbyn and other cranks,” he tweeted. “Please clarify?”

One response accused Cllr Count of being a politician “who has spent the last few months playing politics with the issue. Unprincipled.”

Another post said of Cllr Count’s statement: “Politics, in a democracy, is ‘the voice of the people’. “What a strange thing to say – especially for someone involved in democracy so closely”.

And another told Cllr Count: “If you had attended you would have seen it was the voice of the people.”

 

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