Many people in Cambridge rely on bikes to get around, but it makes particular sense for those whose lives revolve around the city centre. In 1381, a mob sacked university buildings and burned books in the town square, shouting: “Away with the learning of clerks!” More recently, battle lines have been drawn over plans to build homes on green belt land and attempts to ban wild swimming in the river Cam .
Now, tensions between town and gown are rising again in Cambridge. This time, it’s over proposals to introduce a £5 congestion charge on weekday car journeys to the city, with a protest march to Parker’s Piece common planned for 27 November.
People who live in the city centre and mainly cycle or walk, such as students and Cambridge dons, stand to benefit greatly from the scheme. Others, such as workers and families who have to drive everyday, are facing charges of up to £1,300 a year per car.
Neil McArthur, vice-chair of Cambridgeshire Residents Group, which opposes the congestion charge, said the proposal was “driving a wedge between town and gown”. “The town is going to become a ghost town and residents are really concerned about that,” he said. “Whereas the student population and the Cambridge dons won’t suffer … They probably live and work within the city, they can walk or cycle wherever they want to go. The fewer cars in the city for them, the better.” Histon
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