By James Hind
A representative for the Alliance of British Drivers has condemned a car-free day in Canterbury.
Councillors voted to reduce car use and begin organising a car-free day in Canterbury; a decision which caused outrage for some and excitement for others.
Tensions were running high on Monday night at the Guildhall, Canterbury where councillors voted unanimously in favour of reducing car usage in the city and the potential to have a car-free day in the future.
Terry Hudson, from the Alliance of British Drivers thinks the idea is nothing more than ‘gesture politics at its worst’.
He said: “Will ‘cars’ with the word ‘TAXI’ on the roof be allowed to drive, therefore no problem for those that can afford it! Councillors can book it on expenses!
“How do NHS staff, fire/police personal get to work?
“How about carers in the community, do they not just turn up?
“These luddites like to focus on a few tiny negatives but fail to acknowledge the huge percentage of positives that motorised transport brings”.
Many councillors thought the concept of a car-free day was a good idea but were sceptical about how it would work.
Richard Moore, Canterbury City Councils Transport Manager said: “The only solution to congestion is to try and get as many people as possibly out of their cars.
“Whether or not a car free day is workable is another matter”.
The day which has been proposed for late September could see the ring-road closed and public transport such as the park and ride operate later into the evening.
Councillor Williams said: “There is a huge number of people who like their cars and want to stay in them.
“Firstly we need to make public transport more attractive”.
Councillor Baldock explained how when he was younger a lot more children walked to school and nowadays parents rely too heavily on driving.
Labour group leader, Alan Baldock said: “Come on wake up and face our demons
“A generation ago 70% of us walked to school, 50% of us do now”
“That school traffic actually contributes to the rush hour traffic”.
Jean Butcher, who represents Northgate, remembered a time when the Pope came to Canterbury and the roads were successfully shut.
She said: “If the Pope was coming and he was in his Pope-mobile along the A28 then we would have to shut it.
“If we can shut it then, we can do it now… and think to ourselves it’s got to be done. It can be done”.
The car-free day is intended to force residence and visitors to find alternative means of travelling which have a less damaging effect on the environment. Following the meeting a working group has been set up to iron out all details for the day and discuss other traffic reduction plans. There were 10 votes for the proposal to set up a working group and 0 against.
A Full recording of the meeting can be heard Below