Organisers discuss cancellation of Chichester’s Car Free Day

A few volunteers organising Chichester’s Car Free Day Play Street event came to South Street on International Car Free Day the 22nd September to apologise to disappointed members of the public that the community event had been cancelled. They recorded some of their thoughts in a series of video interviews.

Play Street Event Planned for 22nd September Sadly Cancelled

Chichester District Council officials have been unable to reinstate the Playing Out street order licence. The event organisers met on Monday evening 16th September and sadly concluded that without the cooperation of our local authorities Chichester’s activities marking International car free day will no longer be able to take place.

Co-Chair of  Chichester Car Free Day Philip Maber has written his thoughts on the cancellation of the event.

Philip Maber’s Reflections on the Cancellation

In the wake of CDC pulling the plug just 10 days ahead of our Playing Out Event: What did we aim to achieve? This my personal take, and in no particular order

  • Building a strong group drawn from many diverse organisations and individuals that wouldn’t otherwise come together: Achieved with flying colours – take a look at our website
  • To reclaim the valuable space that is South Street, albeit for just a few hours, for especially young people to have fun and enjoy themselves – we had a wonderful array of participants ready and eager.
  • By holding the Event on World Car Free Day we wanted Chichester to join hundreds of cities around the World who regularly hold Car Free Days. Paris holds one every Month where it has rapidly become a major tourist attraction. London has 11 separate Car Free Day Events on 22nd September.
  • Obviously Car Free Events are a very significant statement about our need to address the impending climate and wildlife catastrophe.
  • The only source of air pollution that is increasing locally comes from road vehicles – air pollution causes the premature death of over 60 people a year in Chichester. The organisation provide air quality games for Children.
  • The Car Free ethos encourages walking and cycling. Lack of exercise and obesity largely stem from our reliance upon the internal combustion engine. Health is important!
  • To further promote cycling we had the Police bike marking and registration service, together with Dr Bike (Adam Bell), and road safety information.
  • Stagecoach offered to park a bus at the bus stop and turn it into a classroom to teach about the virtues of public transport. We were going to decorate the bus with artwork from our earlier schools competition themed on what local children would do on a day with no cars.
  • Art and Culture with chalk on the tarmac and dancing on the Street.
  • Balance, coordination, structured and (importantly) unstructured play.
  • Similar events elsewhere have proven to dramatically increase footfall and dwell time leading to significantly increased sales for shops and other retailers. We specifically excluded sellers of food or other goods that could have taken trade away from our established South Street Businesses.
  • We see the impact of high Rates and Rents and really want to help, highlighting this in our publicity.
  • We wanted to promote South Street because it has missed out on the benefits created by the pedestrianisation enjoyed nearby – an issue compounded by the exclusion of South Street from the August Chichester Street Party.
  • The list goes on as far as our imagination can take it.

So what now? Firstly we have to notify all the participants that the Event is cancelled – obviously, we the volunteer organisers are gutted, having spent thousands of hours on it since last November. A special mention for Chichester University Dance Troop who had their planned performances as part of their Course Work. The Cathedral Cafe had kindly agreed to provide a free lunch for the Dance Troop.

Do we plan to have another go? You bet we do! Our next date is Monday 4th November at 7:00 p.m. at the Eco Cinema, run by Transition Chichester at The Friends Meeting House, Priory Road, Chichester, PO19 1NX. Our intention is to show a film about Car Free Days followed by a discussion about why our Temporary Road Closure for 22nd September was Revoked by CDC – at time of writing, we have yet to be told (and believe me, we are asking). We very much hope that South Street Businesses, Chichester BID and Spokes-people from Our 3 Local Councils are able to come, which will help pave the way for a bigger and better Playing Out / Car Free Event in Spring 2020.

Philip Mabe, co-chair Car Free Chi, 17th September, 2019

Volunteers eager for Reinstatement of Chichester’s Play Street Licence

Midday Saturday 14th Sep organisers of Chichesters Playing Out event were being positive about the chances of their street order/licence being reinstated. If organisers are successful in getting the licence reinstated, then there is a good chance the Playing Out event will still take place! The event is aimed at allowing children and families to play in South Street while through traffic is restricted.

If the event is still able to run at such short notice we may not be able to provide all the engaging activities we originally hoped for and planned. However, we feel it will remain a great family experience that Chichester’s residents and surrounding community will thoroughly enjoy.

Carley Sitwell, Debbie Carter, Helen Cato and Ping Jiang, showing off toys they will bring to the Playing Out in Chichester on Car Free Sunday event on the 22nd September. They hope Chichester District Council will allow this event to take place.

Post and Observer Report Licence Revoked

The Chichester Post reported revocation of the playing out street order for International Car Free Day.

Plans to hold a car-free day in the city could be scrapped after Chichester District Council revoked the licence.

Approval was previously given to close South Street in Chichester this month as part of a community event.

Car(e) Free Day Chichester organisers were granted permission by Chichester District Council for their community event on Sunday, September 22.

The street closure order was for South Street from its junction with Theatre Lane to the Market Cross between 12.30pm and 3.30pm.

Chichester Car Free Day campaigners said they were planning a small-scale three-hour event in Chichester known as a ‘playing out order’ for South Street so that people, especially children, can enjoy a mini street festival on International Car Free Day.

Please follow this Link For the Chichester Posts full story.

The Chichester Observer has reported on the revocation of the playing out street order for International Car Free Day.

Plans for a car free day in Chichester later this month look to be off after its road closure licence was revoked by the district council.

A section of South Street was due to be closed to motor vehicle traffic 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.

Please follow this link for the Chichester Observer full story.

Police Closure Decision

Hello Mr Record,
Thank you for your e-mail.
I have just spoken to Inspector (name removed for privacy) and have an understanding of the objections that have been raised.
The objections appear to centre upon concerns that the original plan for a ‘play street’ have evolved into a larger event which was not specified in the application.
My understanding is that the Highways have therefore withdrawn support for the event because of concerns that the previously authorised road closures may no longer be deemed to be legal.
The ‘threats’ appear to relate to some recent social media posts which have indicated that a small number of motorists may decide to ignore the road closures.
If that did occur it would both give rise to a public safety issue and test the validity of the road closures.
These concerns have led to the recommendation that support for the event was withdrawn which has been agreed by all involved agencies.
Sergeant (name removed for privacy)

The Playing Out on Car Free Sunday Chichester Campaign would like to discuss this decision but at the time of writing 07:14am 14th Sep there has been no consultation about this decision put in place by either the District Council or West Sussex Police.

CDC have revoked the order

Car Free Day in Jeopardy

Our local authorities have become aware that some unpleasant individuals are considering disrupting Chichester’s Playing Out event by using their motor vehicles to terrorise children at play. The street closure order for South St has now been revoked (hopefully temporally). We intend to urgently discuss this issue with Police advisers and the local council and will plead with them for the order to be reinstated and co operate with them in whatever way is necessary to hold a safe family event. We feel it does not sent a good precedent to allow hotheads to decide which events will or will not be allowed to take place in our city.

CDC have revoked the order

South Street Businesses show Overwhelming Support for Street Event

Now also reported in the Chichester Observer.

Massive Support
Virtually unanimous support from South Street Shops

South Street businesses were surveyed on the 7th September 2019, only a fortnight before the Chichester Car Free Sunday Street Event is due to take place on the 22nd September (copy of survey available here).

Organising this years Car Free Day event has proved  more difficult than we originally envisaged. We made significant efforts to consult with shops early in the year but it took us an age to apply for and then be granted approval for the event by the local authorities.

We received the go ahead for the event only a month before it is due to take place and it has been a huge rush to inform people in the local community about what was going on. Their was significant anxiety within our group that we could communicate our vision of the event to local businesses in the short time we have had available.

Our team were genuinely anxious that we had gathered adequate local support and were seriously debating whether we could viably go ahead. We decided it would only be fair to continue with the event if we had two thirds of South Street businesses in support.

Philip Maber and Mark Record surveyed shops an Saturday 07 September 2019 and were delighted about the  virtually unanimous support for the Car Free Day Street Event planed for the 22nd September.

With 83.93% support for the event from local shops, we feel duty bound to go ahead with the event as we have promised.

A few shops do object to the idea of a Car Free Day. One charity shop makes a very reasonable objection that elderly volunteers  will need to walk further to the shop because buses will be diverted. Three shops object because they fear they will experience reduced trade during the event. We understand this concern but Chichester Car Free Day campaigners believe an increase in trade is more likely during the event but only time can truly reveal the reality.

The Local Council’s “Chichester Vision” document outlines a Car Free South Street. One of the aims of holding Car Free Days in the city is to explore which parts of the “Chichester Vision” are viable. Our view is it will better for us to try out pedestrianisation on Car Free Days and find what works and what does not before local authorities implement permanent changes.

Car Free Day event announced in Local Papers

The Chichester Post and Chichester Observer have announced Chichester Car Free Sunday is taking place.

Ken and the care free logo

The Chichester Post reports that—

Chichester Mayor, Cllr Richard Plowman, did not feel the idea of a car- free day was very practical. He said: “As a way to highlight as a protest that we need to move to much more sustainable means of transport, walk and cycle more, then I think it is a good thing, given we have declared a climate change emergency in Chichester. “As a measure to stop cars altogether coming into Chichester, it is not practical. “For example, many workers rely heavily on cars for getting to work with no alternative so the businesses open on Sunday would suffer. “Many people live within the city walls and when suggested previously they gave good reasons such as the need to get to hospital in an emergency or regular daily care needs. “A move to make the city centre free from fossil fuel powered vehicles including delivery vehicles with good cycle and pedestrian routes is high on the agenda in the neighbourhood plan.”

We respectfully disagree with  Richard Plowman about the impracticability of car free days in the city. It is not clear why so many workers in the city have “no alternative” to using their cars! There is a convenient station, bus service and some good cycle routes already available for workers to commute into our city.

Chichester Car Free Campaign want to see our city become a place where workers are not forced to rely heavily on cars because other modes of transport have been made more convenient.

For city workers who cannot find an alternative to arriving in the city by car, there is nearby Avenue de Chartres multi story carpark that is empty on Sundays

We Need You !!!

Would You Like To Volunteer to help make Chichester Car Free Day a Huge Success ???

We have a street order to close South Street for three hours. This will allow  Chichester City’s  first Car Free Day event to take place and coincide with World Car Free Day !  Now all we need are some volunteers. We are particularly keen to recruit people who would like to become Traffic Marshals. We are also recruiting musicians.

If you would like to get involved contact either:

Training for marshals will be given and we will provide stylish reflective jackets to keep you visible and safe during the event.

The District Council have informed us we can have musicians perform with an event order which we are applying for.

If you would like to play at the event please contact

Chichester Car Free Day Campaign has now merged with Transition Chichester

Transition Chichester is a group of forward thinking people, keen to promote and embrace change which helps create a sustainable local environment and a more resilient community. You can find out much more about the organisation from the Transition Chichester website

Members of the Chichester Car Free Campaign have been ambitious and eager to see a greener cleaner city with greater opportunity for and uptake of sustainable transport. However we quickly realised we had been too ambitious and taken on slightly more than we could realistically manage. Transition Chichester have come to our rescue and been a fantastic help in keeping our project on track. Jan and Julia Sander have been particularly supportive. With our new combined team we are now happily striding together towards what looks likely to be a hugely successful Car Free Day event.