Call for council to consider closing city centre car parks to encourage walking and cycling
- Credit: Steve Adams
A call has been made for Norwich City Council to consider closing some of its car parks in the years ahead - to encourage more people to cycle or walk into the city centre.
The suggestion was made during a discussion of City Hall’s environmental strategy for 2020 to 2025 - the council’s environmental vision and key priorities for future years.
The strategy includes actions such as more 20mph zones, making council homes more efficient, a new cycling map for the city, cutting the council’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2030 and getting more charge points for electric vehicles.
However, Judith Lubbock, Liberal Democrat councillor for Eaton, told a meeting of the council’s climate and environment emergency executive panel: “The elephant in the room, and it certainly doesn’t appear anywhere in this document, is the fact that the city council are not doing enough for sustainable transport by continuing to own and manage the car parks in the city centre.
“This would be the perfect document for us to be saying what we will be doing in the future to reduce this use of this space in the city centre and to give support to sustainable transport.
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“Covid-19 has given us the chance to rethink the norm and I think this is where we do need to show how these car parks are linked to equality and to health.”
She added: “If you didn’t have the car parks in the city centre, it would be much easier to make the city centre car free, it would give more room and safer space for cycling and walking. It would give more equality to people, make people healthier and protect our NHS.”
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But Kevin Maguire, Labour cabinet member for safe and sustainable city environment, who chaired the meeting, said the council’s Norwich 2040 Vision was considering longer term economic and environmental issues.
He said of the strategy being discussed: “This is a 2020 to 2025 one and the reality is that people are coming into the city. What we would like them to do is to come in via public transport.”
Mrs Lubbock said that was not what people should be doing amid the dangers of coronavirus and Mr Maguire responded by saying: “I mean in five years’ time, not tomorrow.”
The environmental strategy will need to be rubber-stamped by the Labour-controlled council’s cabinet.