Car Free Day organisers 'undaunted' by unsuccessful 2019 event

'We’re going to come back much stronger in the spring with a bigger and better one'.

Tuesday, 24th September 2019, 5:15 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th September 2019, 6:15 pm
Volunteers Carley Sitwell, Debbie Carter, Helen Cato and Ping Jiang with the toys they were planning to bring to the car free day event in Chichester on Sunday.

Those were the words of one of the organisers behind the unsuccessful plans for a 'car free day', which was due to take place in Chichester over the weekend.

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 — 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.

However, following threats of a protest from unhappy residents, the road closure licence was revoked by the district council, due to public safety concerns. Read more hereDespite proposals to scale back the event to remove the concerns, organisers were unable to get the license reinstated on time.

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

Mark said: "Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful in arranging a meeting about reinstating the street closure order / licence between Chichester District Council, local police and the car free day organisers.

"A small group of organisers met on South Street when the event had been due to take place. We had leaflets explaining the event had been cancelled and spoke to many people who were disappointed that their would be no playing out event on the street that day.

"We hope to try again next year and hope for a better outcome with a second attempt."

Fellow organiser Phil Maber said next year's event 'will be much better next year'.

"We’re going to come back much stronger in the spring with a bigger and better one," he added.

"We’ve got virtually all the shops on side and a big meeting coming up on November 4."

Lindsay Rebbeck said she was 'extremely disappointed' that the event couldn't go ahead.

She said: "Many of us have given our time voluntarily for many months to do something different for Chichester, to bring people of all ages together, to promote business for the South Street shops but, above all, to make a stand against the pollution from vehicles which is currently contributing to climate change.

"This has been designated 'International Car Free Day' and is a missed opportunity to stand in solidarity alongside other councils. It was latterly re-branded as a “Playing Out Day” which could have attracted families into our city centre and been a re-vitalising experience with music, dance, games and fun for all.

"Undaunted, we are already planning for next year."

Carley Sitwell had been looking forward to a 'wonderful day'

"It was going to be quite unique in the fact that [there was going to be] a bus for kids to run up and down and play on, and with all their drawings from schools all plastered outside. It was really going to be tremendous."

Councillor Sharp said the event was 'almost sorted' with the local authorities.

"We were allowed to put the event on and then last minute we ran up against some difficulties," she explained.

"We had a lot of difficulties liaising with West Sussex [Highways] over where street signs should go up and then, probably more crucially, a few people on Facebook said they were threatening to dive into the event, and therefore the police and West Sussex [Highways] said they could no longer support it and therefore permission was withdrawn."