'We were an unexpected distraction - fighting an issue of vital importance to a large section of Wisbech people'

PUBLISHED: 10:53 14 March 2012

Cambridgeshie County Council Cabinet meeting held at the Boathouse in Wisbech.   Wisbech protesting taxi drivers disrup the meeting

Cambridgeshie County Council Cabinet meeting held at the Boathouse in Wisbech. Wisbech protesting taxi drivers disrup the meeting

Archant

I READ with interest your account of the protest action by the Wisbech and District Hackney Drivers Association at Tuesday's Cambridgeshire County Council Cabinet meeting.

On behalf of the association I would like to respond to both the article and comments attributed to Councillor Samantha Hoy.

Cllr Hoy tweeted: “He (referring to Wisbech councillor David Patrick, chairman of the association) has disrupted the Cabinet discussing £90million being spent in Wisbech to discuss taxis again. Shameful.”

Cllr Hoy is to be commended for her efforts in attracting much-needed funds to Wisbech – funds which are long overdue.

But we are also fighting an issue of vital importance to a large section of the people of Wisbech.

Our intention remains to draw attention to the plight of taxi users in Wisbech whose lives are about to be put at risk by Fenland District Council’s decision to move the taxi rank.

We stood silently and respectfully at the back of the room with our placards and did nothing to disrupt the meeting.

After the question and answer session we were invited to speak by county council leader Nick Clarke. Cllr Patrick addressed the meeting.

At the end of this Cllr Clarke, after stating that ours was an issue which the county council had no jurisdiction, thanked us for the manner in which we had behaved and for raising the issue. He further remarked that it was the most peaceful protest he had ever experienced.

To accuse the taxi drivers of ‘disruption’ is therefore a gross distortion of the truth. We were a distraction, and an unexpected one at that.

The decision to invoke our democratic right to protest was taken by open vote at a constituted association meeting. It was not an action taken solely by Cllr Patrick.

It is hard to imagine that the merits of the £90million investment plan for Wisbech were so shaky that it could have been seriously jeopardised by our silent demonstration.

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