Chichester car free day organisers attempting to get license reinstated

Volunteers Carley Sitwell, Debbie Carter, Helen Cato and Ping Jiang with the toys they will bring to the car free day event in Chichester, if the road closure order is reinstated
Volunteers Carley Sitwell, Debbie Carter, Helen Cato and Ping Jiang with the toys they will bring to the car free day event in Chichester, if the road closure order is reinstated

Chichester car free day organisers have said they would be 'willing to scale back' the event, in a bid to get its street closure license reinstated.

A section of South Street was due to be closed under a 'Playing Out order' to motorists between 12.30 and 3.30pm on Sunday, September 22 — International Global Car Free Day. The plans, initially given the go-ahead by Chichester District Council, were made as part of campaigner Mark Record and city councillor Sarah Sharp’s vision to trial a scheme inside the city walls one Sunday a month to make the city more safe.

Signs were put up in South Street informing shoppers of the car free day plans

Signs were put up in South Street informing shoppers of the car free day plans

However, following threats of a protest from unhappy residents, the road closure licence has since been revoked by the district council, due to public safety concerns. Read more here

When approached for comment about the decision, a 'bitterly disappointed' Mark said: "We are desperately trying to get the licence reinstated.

"Our group is in touch with Sussex Police and hope to have discussions with them on Monday to examine why the street license has been withdrawn and if it will be possible to reinstate it.

"The police have remarked that the scope of the event has potentially expanded beyond that normally covered by a playing out order but the organisers are willing to scale back any activities to meet police requirements."

Campaigner Mark Record's car free day idea has been supported by city councillor Sarah Sharp

Campaigner Mark Record's car free day idea has been supported by city councillor Sarah Sharp

Mark said the previously approved Playing Out order was 'pioneered by families in Bristol' to allow streets to be closed so children can use the space made available for games and activities.

Mark said four volunteers met on South Street on Saturday to 'show off toys they are hoping to bring' if the licence is reinstated.

He added: "[We all] hope Chichester District Council and Sussex Police will allow this event to take place."

Readers react

More than 100 Observer readers shared their mixed views, after it was announced that the road closure licence was revoked.

Commenting on our Facebook page, Matthew Somerton-Rayner wrote: "How completely pathetic. People can't cope with a small section of one street being closed to traffic for a measly three hours on a Sunday afternoon?"

Victoria Oatway shared a similar opinion. She asked: "Are we all that addicted to our cars that the potential for having to find alternative parking or god forbid walk down a section of South Street for three hours on a Sunday afternoon causes this reaction?

"It’s quite possible to live in Chichester which is a small city and shop and travel around the city centre with no car."

Matthew James was also disappointed. He wrote: "This, although a small start, could have led to a bigger project. Change needs to happen."

Paul Hill claimed that the decision shows why Chichester is the 'most boring city in England', whilst Billy Lewis-Bowker said the event 'would have been good for the city'.

John Torch K said the license being revoked was 'absolutely fantastic news'. He added: "A group were planning a very large-scale protest against this and it would have been pandemonium. Common sense prevails for once."

Jeff Spreadbury agreed. He wrote: "Good. Best news I've heard all week."

Stephen Holcroft said the idea was 'pointless in the first place'. He added: "It wouldn't have made Chichester car free. Most of central Chichester is pedestrian only anyway and this is just a tiny section of a single street, it would have just resulted in longer bus and car journeys, more pollution, more inconvenience."

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