Two of the key cultural cities in the south east have come together to share ideas and best practice on city centre management. A delegation of some 20 people came to Brighton from Canterbury to visit the North Laine and compare experiences on how to tackle some of the challenges of modern day city life.
The delegation from Canterbury comprised traders, residents, Cllr Nick Eden-Green and council officers as well as the city centre manager, Philippe Esclasse. They met with members of Brighton’s North Laine Traders Association (NLTA), the North Laine Residents Association, Cllr Sue Paskins, city centre manager Soozie Campbell and the Business Forum’s chief executive Tony Mernagh.
The groups met at the Business Forum in the morning to discuss common issues such as congestion, parking and pedestrianisation. They then lunched at Pinocchio’s and in the afternoon Peter Stocker, secretary of the NLTA lead a guided tour of the North Laine.
According to Soozie Campbell it was an enlightening experience for all concerned. “We have learnt so much from each other” she said. “Both cities face very similar challenges but we have each taken quite different approaches to resolving them. In particular I think we need to learn from the way Canterbury has substantially reduced congestion by establishing three (soon to be four) substantial and inexpensive park and ride facilities on the edges of town.”
Philippe Esclasse (City Manager, Canterbury City Management) said, “Although similar in nature but different in scale, two areas of our cities, the Kings Mile, St Peter’s, St Dunstan’s in Canterbury (collectively known as ‘The Cultural Quarter’) and North Laine in Brighton share the same challenges. Both areas are focusing on achieving the best possible balance for improving success for traders and quality of life for residents. During the visit Canterbury has learnt a lot from Brighton in terms of creating vibrancy and encouraging creativity and inward investment. I welcome the opportunity of furthering this co-operation between our respective cities.”
For the traders and residents the day was about exploring and understanding the needs of people living and working in a shared environment. Peter Stocker said, “The small traders of Canterbury face many of the same issues as their counterparts in North Laine and we will be working to exchange best practice ideas that will benefit both commercial communities. I hope that we have demonstrated just how important it is to have a firm working relationship, based on trust and understanding with both the local residents and the council. We look forward to further meetings and I am sure both cities will prosper from our mutual enthusiasm.”
The two cities plan to build on this promising start by developing an on-going relationship. And with that in mind a Brighton delegation will be travelling to Canterbury in the summer.
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