FURTHER to your interesting article in last week’s Craven Herald concerning the debate about limiting vehicle traffic in the Dales National Park, might it not be timely to consider doing this in Skipton High Street?

The council must be applauded for temporarily banning cars from the High Street whilst the market re-establishes itself after the recent C19 clamp-down, but might it not be worth considering this as permanent?

The C19 clamp-down has had some benefits, including quieter streets, the chance to hear bird song, cleaner air – and a chance to think.

An increasing number of towns in the UK are planning to drastically reduce car access to their town centres in order to provide a better environment for pedestrians. Why not Skipton? Access should be maintained for public transport and the vans that support the market of course – a version of ‘shared space’ perhaps - but cars should be prohibited, and the exclusion of 7.5 ton trucks be implemented!

The number of deaths caused by C19 is quite rightly deemed to be a tragedy, but we forget that some 42,000 people per year die in the UK from diseases caused by air pollution, particularly vehicle pollution (Government statistics). Although this is not as yet a major problem in the Craven district, we are not immune from it, as annually some 23 people died prematurely here as a result of air pollution.

Retailers are often the first people to complain about the banning of cars, but we can now prove that such bans can actually increase pedestrian footfall by up to 50 per cent.

Cars don’t buy things – pedestrians do. It is going to be critically important for retailers to get people back into their shops, and this is going to be more difficult in the future, as aspects of climate change will influence this. We know for example that once street temperatures reach about 30ºC, - which they do more often than you think - people don’t visit their High Streets so often to shop. It’s easier and more comfortable to buy on line.

Maybe we should also think therefore about planting some more street trees along the High Street, using modern technology to ensure that they not only survive, but thrive?

Trees can reduce the temperature of a street by anywhere between 4º and 8º C, thus encouraging people to shop there and spend their money.

We are sometimes slow to recognise that the public actually prefer green, pedestrianised places to car-based thoroughfares that are polluted, noisy and sometimes dangerous.

The public mood is changing, and Skipton now has the opportunity of a lifetime to creatively respond to this. If not now, when?

Prof. Dr. Alan Simson