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Anger for campaigners as car free day set to see no roads closed

PUBLISHED: 18:00 27 June 2019

Road closures around Elm Hill whilst filming for a new Netflix Christmas film takes place.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019

Road closures around Elm Hill whilst filming for a new Netflix Christmas film takes place. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

Archant 2019

A council's pledge to support a car-free day has been dismissed as lip service - after it emerged no road closures are planned for the day.

Ben Price, Green Party city councillor for Thorpe Hamlet. Picture: Norwich GreensBen Price, Green Party city councillor for Thorpe Hamlet. Picture: Norwich Greens

In March, Norwich City Council agreed to back World Car Free Day - an international day of action which urges people to avoid using cars to improve air quality.

Campaigners had hoped the council would emphasise its support by agreeing to close certain city centre roads to mark the occasion - which is on Sunday, September 22.

However, it has since emerged no city centre closures are planned, leading to accusations that agreeing to back it was lip service.

Matt White, founder of Car Free Norwich, said: "Personally, I feel the city council could be doing a lot more to support the cause - at the minute it feels a bit like lip service.

Norwich city councillor Mike Stonard. Pic: Archant.Norwich city councillor Mike Stonard. Pic: Archant.

"It is great to encourage people to leave their cars at home, but to actually impose closures would be a really powerful statement to make."

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Mr White suggested closing the area surrounding City Hall would have been ideal.

He added: "London has recently agreed to close 12 miles of road. I appreciate there is an element of planning, but it was sorted out at much shorter notice for the Norwich City football parade."

Green city councillor Ben Price, who lodged a motion in March calling for the city council to support the day, said: "Coming out in support is one thing, but even closing a couple of roads would go a long way to re-imagining what the city could be like without cars.

"However, I will continue to work with officers to try and work something out."

However, Mike Stonard, cabinet member for sustainable growth, argued it would be difficult to justify closing roads without specific activities to warrant them - and there was insufficient time to organise it.

He said: "I do not agree that it is simply sufficient to close roads and do nothing else.

"Introducing such closures might be relatively straightforward and low cost, but we need to look at if we can do more than that so there is a reason to go to the streets concerns and draw people to experience the car-free environment."

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