Chichester set to host 'car free day'

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

Chichester is set to host a car free day later this month.

‘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’. A proposal was put to Chichester District Council as well as West Sussex County Council earlier this year. Read more here

A six-year-oldschoolgirl named Emma, fromJessie Younghusband Primary School, won the Car Free campaign logo competition

A six-year-oldschoolgirl named Emma, fromJessie Younghusband Primary School, won the Car Free campaign logo competition

According to councillor Sharp, the potential of Car Free is ‘limitless’. Not everyone agreed, as proved by a Facebook poll we ran in February, in which 478 (66 per cent) of the 727 readers who voted said they would not be in favour of the idea. 249 people said they could see the city being car free for a day (34 per cent).

Despite this, 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 under a ‘Playing Out order’.

Mark said: “A playing out order is an concept pioneered by families in Bristol to allow streets to be closed so children can use the space made available for games and activities.

“Our intention is to fill South Street with families and children who can enjoy using the space without traffic. All generations are welcome to come and explore the event.”

Mark said shops and businesses along South Street have 'expressed excitement' about the event bringing people to visit.

He added: “The Car Free Chichester campaign hope celebrating car free day will open constructive conversations about our city’s future.

"It promises to offer a glimpse of what towns and cities can feel like when sustainable transport and pedestrianisation are prioritised above motor-vehicle use.

"All levels of government now recognise a state of climate emergency. Our heath service is giving warnings about issues caused by inactivity and air pollution.

"Children in particular could benefit from greater levels of outdoor exercise and fresh air to breath. Reducing traffic has many benefits, not least that children can have fun playing in the streets.”

Mark said the campaign group is engaging with local businesses and is in touch with 'many community groups who are supporting or advising us'.

"We have merged with Transition Chichester who are helping enormously with administration," he said,

"We are in close discussion with Priory Rotary club and the Chichester Lions about safely marshalling traffic on the day.

"Christ Church Chichester are giving inspirational advice from their 'messy play' experiences.

"Chichester University is offering to bring dance and street theatre to the event with the students being supported by Chichester Cathedral. The environmental group EcoChi are providing many volunteers. ChiCycle is funding the event.

"There are also rumours that the mysterious 'Red Beings' might visit us observing how humanity will respond to our environmental concerns."

Alongside Pallant House Gallery, Car Free's members also held a logo competition to 'capture people's imagination'.

Mark revealed that a six-year-old schoolgirl named Emma, from Jessie Younghusband Primary School, won the award. The winning artwork (pictured) will be used as part of the Car Free campaign.