Chichester car free day - Residents threaten to drive 'in form of protest'

Car free day in France. Photo: ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images
Car free day in France. Photo: ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images

A protest has been threatened after news that Chichester is set to host a car free day later this month.

On Sunday, September 22 — International Global Car Free Day ⁠—⁠ a section of South Street will be closed to motor vehicle traffic between 12.30 and 3.30pm.

Councillor Sarah Sharp and campaigner Mark Record

Councillor Sarah Sharp and campaigner Mark Record

It comes as ‘Car Free’, set up by campaigner Mark Record and supported by city councillor Sarah Sharp, plans to trial a scheme inside the city walls one Sunday a month to make the city more safe and a ‘fun place to walk and cycle’. Read more here

Mark said the road will be closed under a 'Playing Out order' — a concept 'pioneered by families in Bristol' to allow streets to be closed so children can use the space made available for games and activities.

Dozens of readers have responded to the news on our Facebook page.

Giles Edwards wrote: "[I am] going to drive down the road in the form of protest."

Despite being advised by a fellow reader that this would carry a fine of up to £1,000 by Chichester District Council (CDC), Giles added: "That's fine, I'll just have to take one for the team."

John Torch K claimed that he would follow suit, writing: "I suggest getting as many people together as possible to drive down the road.

"It's best to nip these things in the bud, or else these people get their way and it sets a precedent for the future. Make it as difficult as possible and they might think again about taking away our freedom.

"The residents of Chichester should come together and descend on South Street en masse in their cars."

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Giles and John were not alone in their contempt for a car free day in the city.

Dave Hockridge, owner of South Street store Present Surprise, said: "The shops and restaurants were not consulted.

"If anyone requires a Deliveroo from Pizza Express, Prezzo, Zizzi, Waggamama or any of the other restaurants during the period forget it you can't have it as bikes are not allowed down the street. If you are disabled forget it you can't get dropped off. If you want an Iceland food delivery forget it you won't be able to eat.

"The shops will be open but CDC has once again made it difficult for them."

Stephen Holcroft shared the view that it would be an 'inconvenience'.

He wrote: "Closing a small section of one street won't make Chichester car free, it will just inconvenience people that will still drive anyway or go somewhere else."

Jo Price said it was a 'ludicrous idea', adding: "What on earth are they trying to achieve?"

Sharon Bower said she 'can't see the point'. She added: "Chichester mostly car free still anyway. [This will be a] real pain if you're disabled."

Not everyone was against the idea, however.

Hilary Julian said it was 'excellent' news.

She added: "Sad to see so many people have such a negative attitude.

"Presumably these people are not aware of just how poor the air quality is in Chichester - just the ones who need their awareness raising by this type of event."

Nicki Hodges wrote: "A good idea. People need to get out and walk more." Grace Coraline Hayles agreed. She said: "Maybe the roads in Chichester might be a little safer for that day."

Brenda Scanlon said she does not see an issue with having a car free day but questioned the day and place it was being held at.

She wrote: "I can think of many more places that children would like to play in than South Street. And surely this is the bus route.

"Nothing wrong with a car free day but more thought needs to be given to where it should be and on what day of the week.

"If you want to make an impact on the environment, why do it on a day of the least amount of cars? Central Chichester is car free. it is pedestrianised."

What are your thoughts on Chichester having a car free day? Let us know by commenting on our Facebook page.