On our meeting on the 28th of January, Sara Sharp ( Chichester’s green City Councillor) told us that Chichester District Council had objected to the Car Free proposal. I was keen to have precise details of the objection so we could help resolve whatever impasse has arisen. After an email exchange and phone conversation with Sarah she established that an audio recording of recent CDC meetings are available from the District Council Website. It is not easy to navigate around these pages documenting council meetings but this appears a natural result of the complexity of local government rather than a genuine shortcoming in their record keeping systems. It is actually a very convenient and sophisticated system after a little practice with using it.
The District Council Meeting where Car Free Days proposal was discussed was held on the 22nd January and impressively all the details of the meeting are available by following this link. Something has gone wrong with the audio recording as it sounds like the speakers are permanently suffering from hiccups but it is still intelligible. The discussion of Car Free Days is at 89 min in the audio recording under meeting section 10 “Initial Project Proposals 2019-2020 and Corporate Plan”. Interestingly Councillor Tony Dignum discussed the spare capacity available in the multi-storey car-park during this section of audio. As this campaign blog has already pointed out is this spare capacity could easily absorb cars displaced from Little London and Baffin’s lane car parks. The objection to Car Free Days was that some revenue would be lost from the inner city car parking. However, it seems a reasonable to presume that much of this lost revenue would be recouped when the vehicles relocated to parking using the spare capacity of surrounding car parks.
If the only objection is car-park revenue then maybe our glass is already half full!
A small amount of money may be lost in revenue from occasional closure of Baffin’s lane and Little London car parks. However the inconvenience of the traffic generated by these car parks along Chichester’s small medieval streets is an enormous impediment to the re-development of the city centre. Few people would consider removal of the pedestrian precinct a good idea for business and it can be seen that some shops outside of the precinct struggle to survive. Removing traffic from North st and East St could bring a huge boost to our cities appeal. If Baffin’s lane and Little London car parks are full to capacity all day on a Sunday they would only raise only £1942.50 in ticket revenue. Surely we can easily raise this much money from the city community so we can all enjoy one day when it is not choked with motor vehicle traffic. Get saving(;-)) it looks like we may need to buy 185 all day car parking tickets to enjoy a Car Free Day!