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Christian Aid tax justice bus rolls into Norwich

TaxBus421A campaign for tax justice rolled into Norwich on Wednesday in the form of a big red double decker bus parked outside Norwich cathedral. Tom Wadlow reports.

The Tax Justice Bus called at Norwich Cathedral as part of a 53-day nationwide Tax Justice Tour. The campaign, backed by Christian Aid and Church Action on Poverty, seeks to illuminate the injustices of corporate tax dodging and the ramifications this has on the development prospects of the world’s poorest countries.

The bus has been attracting large crowds with MPs, a Bishop and many others as it travels around Norfolk and Suffolk. It has called at Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Norwich calling on people to ask Prime Minister David Cameron to use his influence to end tax dodging my many multi-national companies. On board is an exhibition of how tax dodging works and what can be done.

In Norwich on Wednesday well over 100 people came on board the bus to listen and also pledge their support.
Locals Norwich MPs Chloe Smith and Simon Wright, as well as the Bishop of Norwich, came on board as well as 50 sixth formers from local schools. Many people listened as Savior Mwambwe, from Zambia, explained what the impacts of tax dodging are for many in his country - a matter of life and death.

TaxBus420Chloe Smith praised in particular the educational benefits the Tax Bus offered younger spectators, saying: “It’s very positive to have an event like this where sixth formers and others in Norwich can get involved and understand the principles, good and bad, around taxation”.
Simon Wright also commended the tour, and said: “I think this is an incredibly important campaign. We have heard of the huge gap between the tax collection governments are entitled to and what they actually receive. There is a lot of work to be done and I support a lot of what Christian Aid are pressing for”.

Julian Bryant, Christian Aid’s East Regional Co-ordinator said: “The support for this campaign has been overwhelming at times. We had to do simultaneous briefings as so many people came on board to find out and pledge their support.
“We were briefing church leaders upstairs, supporters downstairs and so many young people came that we had to talk to them on the Cathedral Green. In fact we had to do one briefing to about 40 people at once as they couldn't fit on board.”

“It’s been a big success and has captured people’s imaginations in the city. We’ve had over 3000 signatures in three weeks with people putting pressure on David Cameron to say ‘let’s make a difference’.”  

Christian Aid estimates that $160 billion is annually hemmoraged away from developing nations courtesy of tax dodging.
To find out more on the Tax Justice Tour, the issues behind it and to ‘Tick for Tax Justice’, log on to www.christianaid.org.uk/ActNow/trace-the-tax/tax-justice-tour/background.aspx.  

Pictured top are Norwich MPs Chloe Smith and Simon Wright with Savior Mwambwe outside the tax bus and, above, a briefing taking place in the bus with the Bishop of Norwich.

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