Opinion: A bad tax that hurts the poorest the most.

Peterborough city centre traffic on Bourges BoulevardPeterborough city centre traffic on Bourges Boulevard
Peterborough city centre traffic on Bourges Boulevard
​At last week’s council meeting, the Peterborough Conservatives put forward a motion to say no to any form of London style Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) or congestion charging in Peterborough, writes city MP Paul Bristow.

​These charges, which are set to be expanded in London, will see people charged up to £12.50 a day in and around London, just for taking their children to school or to drive to work.

This is a bad tax that hurts the poorest the most.

Costs are already high with a global cost of living crisis and this added pressure on motorists will only add to these pressures.

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Yet opposition parties clearly don’t see it this way, and they didn’t take this opportunity to rule out these charges in Peterborough.

The motion called for the “rejection of 15-minute cities that restrict vehicle movements along with any notion of introducing a Low Emission Zone or Congestion Charges in Peterborough”.

It went on to ask the council to “recognise that there are other, more productive ways to reduce Co2 levels and Peterborough already has a good track record when it comes to green policies”.

Labour councillors and Liberal Democrat Councillors in Peterborough voted against this – leaving the door open for a costly extra burden on Peterborough’s motorists.

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Those councillors claimed the reason they voted the motion down was because no one is calling for these charges in Peterborough.

However, I recently recall a certain Angela Rayner, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, say about ULEZs: “This isn’t just about London, this is coming to towns and cities across the whole of the United Kingdom”.

There is an ongoing row in Cambridge where ULEZs are set to be implemented.

In fact, this was even in the Peterborough and Cambridgeshire Labour Mayors Local Transport and Connectivity Plan.

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In it, it stated that ‘Travel Demand Management’ could be used to reduce motorists in city centres, this includes travel reduction schemes such as congestion charging.

The public have a right to be concerned. London’s ULEZ is expanding and we can see councils across the country considering bringing in these charges to punish motorists.

I am all for improving bus, cycle and pedestrian access. But I am against penalising drivers.

Peterborough is a working city and our people need their cars and vans to get work and earn a living.

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The city centre also needs commuters, shoppers and visitors. If footfall in the city reduces, businesses will bear the brunt of this.

It is a great shame that Labour and the Liberal Democrats failed to do what is right for the people of Peterborough.

The Peterborough Conservatives will continue to oppose any form of congestion charging in Peterborough.

I will certainly never be in support of them as Peterborough’s Member of Parliament either.

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The opposition parties have a couple of simple questions to answer. Why did you fail to rule congestion charging out? And what comes next?

The motorists and people of Peterborough deserve honest answers.