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City centre roads WILL close on Car Free Day 2020, cabinet member vows

PUBLISHED: 14:42 23 September 2019 | UPDATED: 14:42 23 September 2019

Councillor Mike Stonard. Pic: Archant.

Councillor Mike Stonard. Pic: Archant.

Archant

Norwich's car free day will return in 2020 on a bigger scale and with city centre closures.

Climate protestors blocked off a Norwich street on Car Free Day. Picture: Extinction RebellionClimate protestors blocked off a Norwich street on Car Free Day. Picture: Extinction Rebellion

This is the vow of the city council's cabinet member for transport, following criticism of the event's inaugural year.

On Sunday, the city observed World Car Free Day for the first time, after a motion from the Green Party tabled in March called on Norwich City Council to take part.

As part of this the council promoted the event, discouraged car use and assisted communities in holding street parties and informal road closures.

However, its approach was criticised by Green councillors and campaigners from Extinction Rebellion (XR), who claimed the council had not fully committed to the idea as no city centre roads were formally closed.

Instead, the campaigners put a makeshift closure in place of their own on St Peter's Street - directly outside City Hall - blocking the road and hosting street games and protests.

However Labour's Mike Stonard, cabinet member for transport, has now hit back at the criticism, saying the council had done everything that was asked of it in the motion.

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He said: "The council has been pleased to support Norwich's first 'Car Free Day'. We have publicised it and have waived charges for residential street closures for people who wanted to have parties.

"This is just a start and we aim to be much more ambitious next year, when there will be time to plan something bigger which involves more people.

"We are committed to car free day and would like, in future, to see city centre closures and family friendly activities on them."

Mr Stonard added that the council had held talks with XR about being involved in organisation next year and would welcome working with the group in future.

Green councillor and XR activist Jamie Osborn , however, said the council was "taking small steps" to address climate change when big steps are needed.

He said: "We haven't got long enough left for small steps."

World Car Free Day is celebrated on September 22 each year, having been founded by the Environmental Transport Association in 2000.

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