Horse riders head to Wigan town centre to protest against clean air zone scheme

Horse riders and political activists are preparing to make their voices heard in protests against the clean air zone.

Two events are being held in the borough this weekend as opposition continues to grow to the scheme, which is due to begin in May.

Horse owners will get in the saddle on Saturday and ride to Wigan Town Hall.

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Opposition is growing just months before start of Greater Manchester's clean air...
Horse rider Deb Schwarzer is organising the protest

Leading them will be Deb Schwarzer dressed as Lady Godiva, inspired by the legend that she rode her horse through Coventry while naked to protest taxation.

Deb, who lives in Rivington and stables her horse in Wrightington, said: “I’m not into politics, I’m just standing for ordinary folk who are going to possibly lose their businesses because of this tax.”

She is concerned that the introduction of the clean air zone will see the owners of horse boxes charged up to £60 a day.

“It will damage the equine world because we won’t be able to afford to go to shows anymore or take our horses for a hack on the beach.

“It’s not just the horse owners though, it’s for everybody,” she said.

She hopes other riders will join her at 2pm on Saturday as she sets off from Rosebridge Way in Ince.

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A separate protest will be held in Leigh town centre, where members of Leigh and Atherton Independents will raise their concerns from 11.30am to 1pm on Saturday.

James Morley said: “We believe this will cause widespread harm not only to jobs, but also an increase in poverty as bills and food prices will increase. This will severely impact our local economy.”

Discussions about the clean air zone are ongoing between Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and Environment Secretary George Eustice.

A spokesperson for the mayor said: “The Mayor of Greater Manchester has had a constructive meeting with the Environment Secretary following the decision of Greater Manchester councils to refer the current clean air zone back to the Government.

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“The mayor relayed his view, and that of the 10 council leaders, that major changes are needed to the scheme to protect businesses and jobs in light of the new emerging evidence about problems in the vehicle market.

“The secretary of state agreed to meet again with the mayor in the next seven to 10 days to agree a way forward.”

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