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Horse protests cause road chaos round Paris
Lorries caused 145 kilometres of traffic jams on roads around Paris on Monday as part of a protest by those who work in poney clubs and horse riding centres.
The trucks created a 22 kilometre traffic jam on the A13 motorway just outside Paris as they made their way to join more than 100 other lorries heading for the Annual Horse Trade Fair in Villepinte, just north of the capital. There was disruption on several other key roads.
The protestors are angry at the government’s decision to raise VAT for horse-riding clubs from 7 to 20 per cent.
Banners on the trucks read “Horse-riding is not a sport for the rich”.
“The tax hike was voted at 5 oclock in the morning in an almost empty parliamentary chamber” said Cédric Faveau, a teacher at a riding school in Maison-Laffitte just outside Paris. “Many small businesses are afraid they will not be able to meet these tax payments”.
Emmanuel Feltesse, manager of another Equestrian centre, was angry at what she saw as the government’s “disdain” for horse-riding.
“All the effort we have made over the last 10 years to attract people on low incomes, disabled people, schools – its all ruined now”, she declared.
The government raised VAT in this sector in order to comply with EU rules. In response to the protests, it has proposed a “horse fund” to give help to those in the sector and says it will open talks at EU level to try to negotiate a lower tax.