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Doubt over car-free day in walls

PLANS TO hold a car-free Sunday event within the walls of the city were proposed to West Sussex councillors last week.


Parklands resident Mark Record has already talked about the idea to Chichester City Council in December, which was well received by councillors.


At that meeting, 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 brought this question to us, but, at the end of the day, we are a parish council and not the authority for highways.”


However, it appears such an event may be unlikely to take place after county councillors had reservations over the idea.


Cllr Carol Purnell said her concern was that it would impact badly on disabled people.


Cllr Jeremy Hunt had some reservations but said: “Business would probably benefit because if you made a big play on it, and you were able to close the whole city centre, people would come as they would enjoy walking around a car-free city centre. It would be a bit of a novelty.”


Council leader Louise Goldsmith said for now it was best to refer the idea to a specialist.


She said: “Having seen it in Paris and how it works, there are things to think about around here.


“We are all worried about air quality, and public health and Deborah Urqhart, cabinet member for the environment, is very interested in looking at other green ideas and environmental issues. I would suggest we refer it to her.”


Mr Record said after the meeting: “I felt disappointed that our county councillors were unenthusiastic about staging a small scale event in the city on Sunday, September 22, on International Car Free Day 2019.


“My motivation for proposing a car- free event in Chichester city centre is concern about the destruction of our global environment.”


“Because Chichester District Council is concerned over the loss of parking revenue due to a car-free day, I proposed only a small event at the meeting where our pedestrian precinct could be extended along the full extent of both North Street and East Street for only one day this year.


“I have calculated that the loss of parking revenue could not be greater than £2,000 and I would be prepared to pay this amount of money from my own pocket if it allowed such an event to go ahead in our city.”


Cllr Sarah Sharp, of Chichester City Council, has been actively asking businesses around the city about their feelings towards a car-free day in the city. She has stated that she has found a wide range of opinions varying from strong enthusiasm to ambivalence.


Cllr Sharp said: “We are seeking a meeting with the BID very soon.


“We are determined that something will happen on that day (September 22) – even if we don’t get the go-ahead from the authorities.”


A local group of over 70 people have already come together to support Car Free Days in Chichester. Their next meeting is on Monday, February 25, from 7.30pm to 9.30pm, at the Park Tavern in Chichester.


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