PLANS TO hold a car-free Sunday event once a month within the walls of the city were proposed at Chichester City Council’s meeting on Wednesday evening.
Parklands resident Mark Record proposed the idea, which was well received by councillors.
Mr Record explained that Chichester could follow in the footsteps of other European cities, including Paris, which were leading the way in promoting itself by declaring the first Sunday of each month a car-free day.
At the meeting, Mr Record said: “Although cycling in the city can be a mixed experience, by comparison to many other towns and cities in southern England, Chichester provides a veritable paradise for sustainable transport users.
“Also, we are blessed with living in a relatively flat region that naturally encourages cycling. We should exploit Chichester’s benefits for cyclists and pedestrians to promote our city.
“Would it be possible to organise, one Sunday a month when motor vehicle use is minimised/restricted within the city walls? Perhaps between the hours of 6am and 6pm? Essentially a traffic-free day within the walls of the city.”
Mr Record proposed his question at the meeting and said: “This idea could mean that local individuals and families will be persuaded to travel to town without using cars and realise it is a relaxing fun way to spend the day without risk of collision or having to breath toxic exhaust fumes.
“Tourists may see car-free days as a specific reason to visit and explore our city, bringing trade to local shops pubs and restaurants.
“Publicity highlighting Chichester as a environmental green city will boost our cities image.”
Speaking afterwards, to the Chichester Post, Mr Record said: “Unlike many other towns and cities along the south coast, Chichester is already well placed to hold a car-free day because it has a history of making favourable town planing decisions.
“There is already a significant area of pedestrianisation within the city centre, so it is now a realistic step to hold a car-free day. I feel pleased Chichester councillors appeared receptive to the idea.
“However, there are pitfalls to avoid. The recent Velo event sounded like a great idea initially but in practice managed to inconvenience and antagonise may people in the local community. There are lessons to be learnt from the Velo event and I feel it is important that residents are persuaded that a car-free event will be in everyone’s benefit.”
The mayor of the city, Cllr Martyn Bell, said: “I am on the same page as Mark, not totally but pretty much. I think there are some elements of the Chichester Vision in this in terms of perhaps having a day where we wouldn’t see the traffic.
“I’m very flattered you have bought this question to us, but, at the end of the day, we are a parish council and not the authority for highways.”
In another move, Cllr Sarah Sharp, of the Green Party, put forward two motions at the meeting; one to continue to look at ways of reducing single-use plastics in the city and to declare a climate emergency to help clean up the city’s air.
Cllr Sharp said at the meeting: “Every council has their role to play. Single-use plastics have caught the public’s imagination and in a way that is an easy thing for us to grasp.
“We can all take our water bottles with us instead of having to buy one and we can get into the habit of refilling our cups. It’s easy actions that we can take.
“If everyone in the world lived like we do, with our levels of luxury, we would need 3.49 planets and we don’t have them. We have a climate emergency.
“We need to do more. We will be affected by this. This is a massive motion and it needs to go to committee.”