Published: 16:30, 23 January 2017
| Updated: 16:42, 23 January 2017
The idea of a “car-free” day in Canterbury has been denounced as “gesture politics at its worst”.
Roads campaigner Terry Hudson branded those behind the scheme “Luddites” and demanded to know how it could affect the emergency services and workers who rely on cars.
Ten days ago city councillors discussed the idea, which could see roads shut on a single day in September. It is part of an effort to encourage alternative forms of transport to reduce pollution and congestion in the city.
The idea was put forward by Labour’s Northgate ward councillors Jean Butcher and Alan Baldock and supported by Lib Dem and Conservative councillors for Canterbury.
But Mr Hudson, a member of the Alliance of British Drivers, said: “These Luddites like to focus on a few tiny negatives but fail to acknowledge the huge percentage of positives that motorised transport brings.
“Will cars with the word taxi on the top of them be allowed to operate? If so, it will be no problem for those that can afford it. Councillors can even book it on expenses.
“How are NHS staff, firefighters and the police supposed to get to work? How about carers in the community?
“No, I’m afraid this is gesture politics at its worst.”
Councillors have yet to draw up any firm plans for the day, but agreed to create a working group to explore the idea.
They discussed shutting the ring road or the A28 through Canterbury, or closing roads on housing estates to make them available for community activities.
Cllr Butcher has rejected Mr Hudson’s charge of “gesture politics”.
“At the end of the day there is a huge problem with gridlock and pollution in Canterbury and that’s the whole point of doing this,” she said.
“We need to make residents aware that the situation is only going to get worse when people start moving into the large housing estates that will be springing up across Canterbury in the coming years.
“The point is that we have got to start thinking seriously about how we are going to tackle the number of cars on our roads.”
At last week’s meeting all 10 members of the Canterbury Area Member Panel agreed to push ahead with the “car-free” day.