The sunshine-filled streets of Brighton and Hove were abuzz with the sound of pedestrians milling around enjoying a stack of free entertainment as part of the city’s Car Free Day. Richard Gurner reports.

Hundreds of city residents ditched their cars yesterday to enjoy an afternoon of free activities and live entertainment as part of Brighton and Hove’s Streets for People Car Free Day.

Organised by Brighton and Hove City Council, the event was held to promote healthier and more active ways of getting around as part of its Journey On transport campaign.

Held from noon until 5pm, The Lanes, New Road, Jubilee Street and Jubilee Square were all transformed into pedestrian-friendly spaces with live music, performances and activities for everyone.

Mother Helen Fitzgerald, 38, from Brighton, was busy painting cardboard beach huts with her children Zac and Elie in Bartholomews.

The American Express worker said: “It’s great and it’s a fantastic day for it. It’s very Brighton.

“The city always seems to have street events on. It’s September so it extends the season a little bit.”

Builder Stuart Batchelor, 34, from Elm Grove, Brighton, tried riding a Segway electric bicycle in East Street while his 33- year-old accountant partner Jenny Green looked on.

He said: “It was good and I didn’t fall off it for one thing. It would be a great way to get around on although I know they’re expensive.”

Jenny said: “We didn’t know it was going on until we came here to do some shopping but it’s brilliant.”

Stuart added: “It’s what Brighton is all about. It’s why we live here.”

Londoners Joel Trotman, 33, and Charlotte Ory, 27, came down to Brighton for the day and were busy enjoying the free live music at Little East Street.

Joel, an account manager originally from Lewes, said: “It’s great. Car free day is brilliant.

“The music’s brilliant. It’s my kind of music.

“The music, no cars and the sunshine, all we need is a few beers.”

Charlotte, a freelance consultant, added: “It’s nice to see the children playing. Brighton is really family friendly.”

Brighton and Hove Mayor Gary Peltzer Dunn said: “I think today has been absolutely marvellous.

“It’s the beating heart of the city. Everybody seems to be out enjoying themselves but there is a serious message and that is get out of the car and use your feet or cycle.

“It’s fun doing it for one day but people need to do it for the whole year.

“People have been coming up to me in the street and saying congratulations and I think that says it all. It’s not for me to take credit for the event but I can take the congratulations because it reflects so well on the city.”

Hove actor Chris Orr, 53, was busy watching people take part in belly dancing classes in New Road, although he did not fancy giving it a go himself.

He said: “It’s a nice sunny day and it’s nice to have streets without cars on a day like today.

I’d probably care less if it was raining.”

Student Amy Sharpe, 20, from Croydon, was down with friends visiting Sussex student Ben Jacques, also 20.

The gang of friends were enjoying the sun at the village green in Jubilee Square, a massive artificial patch of turf specially laid down for the day.

She said: “It’s a really nice initiative and the grass here makes it a bit less grey and it seems to have brought a lot of the community out.”

Ben said: “One of the bands we follow are playing and so we came to see them. While we waited we thought we’d soak the rest of the atmosphere up.”

Councillor Geoffrey Theobald, Brighton and Hove City Council’s cabinet member for environment, said: “Today has gone very well. The numbers were up from last year with lots of people and a real buzz. It went very well in the end and we were very lucky with the weather.

“We are busy preparing for next year’s event absolutely.

This is part of the calendar of Brighton and Hove.”

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