Celebrating ‘National Climate Week’ with West Sussex County Council

Last week was ‘National Climate Week.’ I know, it was hard to miss it.

West Sussex County Council got in to the spirit of things by holding a workshop for children at County Hall North in Horsham, entitled ‘The Carbon Detectives’ –

Pupils can learn how to become a carbon detective at a free workshop on Monday. West Sussex County Council’s carbon management team will host the workshop at County Hall North, Horsham, in support of National Climate Week (March 21-27).

The Carbon Detectives is a programme which supports schools in reducing their carbon footprint by encouraging pupils aged eight to twelve to detect how they can help save energy and money.

Sounds great.

In fact, I think the Council’s ‘carbon management team’ should spring into action right away, and investigate their very own building, the venue where this workshop was being held – County Hall North.

Just like Horsham District Council’s offices, right across the street, there are no cycle stands anywhere outside the building.

This building is bang in the centre of the town. It should be easy and convenient to cycle to these offices, and lock up your bike, but it isn’t. (This raises the delicious absurdity of most of the children who attended this climate action ‘workshop’ being dropped off by motor vehicle).

Needless to say, there are, of course, plenty of parking spaces out the front of the building, presumably reserved for those important people who naturally enough will never be using a bicycle to arrive here –

What about the staff?

Well, at the rear of the building, there is plenty of parking.

And more parking.

And more parking.

And more parking.

And more parking.

And…

Well, you get the idea. Probably between two and three hundred car parking spaces.

What about places to park bikes?

Dotted about the lower level of the car park are these cycle racks, nearly entirely unused. I don’t blame Council employees for not using them, by the way, because they are next to useless – you can only lock your front wheel to them. The one and only bicycle I found –

could quite easily be stolen in about five seconds by an opportunistic thief, wandering in off the street as I did, either by snipping the lock, or removing the wheel. Proper Sheffield stands are needed, or any kind of stand that would allow the frame of the bicycle to be locked up.

If you are a member of the public, and you are visiting County Hall North, you will not be able to park here, because

Due to limited parking only staff who are based at County Hall North have permission to park there.

‘Limited parking’?

If this is limited, I’d like to see what the Council considers to be generous. Anyway, the council has helpfully provided the prospective visitor with this information sheet, advising you of the numerous locations nearby where you can park.

If you are not arriving by car (and why would you not?) the other ‘alternatives’ are arriving by train, bus, or on foot. Arriving by bicycle is not mentioned as an ‘alternative’. This is hardly surprising, of course, given that there are no cycle stands available here to the public, but it gives yet further indication of how the bicycle figures nowhere in West Sussex County Council’s ideas about how people can, or should, get about.

Does a council that provides hundreds of free parking spaces for its employees at its offices, with no bike stands out the front of the building, and only a handful of insecure bike racks in their staff car park, send out a message that it is serious about reducing carbon emissions? I don’t think so.

Nevertheless, there are some fine words in the Council press release promoting their ‘Carbon Detectives’ workshop, about how committed they are on the issue of energy reduction –

County Council Cabinet Member for Environment and Economy, Deborah Urquhart, said : “Reducing carbon emissions is a top priority for the county council. We are always looking at ways to encourage people to help themselves have a greener environment.

Really? I don’t think Ms Urquhart is looking hard enough.

If reducing emissions really was a ‘top priority’, she should try addressing the conditions outside her very own offices, which prioritize driving, and offer very little encouragement, if any, to people who might wish to use a bicycle.

A cycle lane comes to an end. North Street, Horsham – outside the council offices.

This entry was posted in Car dependence, Cycle Stands, Horsham, Infrastructure, Transport policy. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Celebrating ‘National Climate Week’ with West Sussex County Council

  1. Rhode Long says:

    A great article (this and the Horsham council offices too). Have you taken this up with them? Can a councillor respond?

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