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 www.carfreechi.org.uk
  • 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 PlayingOut.net 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

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