Nik Butler: Festival of free car parking

JPCT 120314 S14110969x Nik Butler -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-141203-095917001
JPCT 120314 S14110969x Nik Butler -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-141203-095917001

As we enter the weekend of Festival Italia, or as I like to refer to it the Festival of Free car parking, I find it ironic that the an opportunity to robustly test the Smart Parking system will go under utilised as the various car parks will be free to use over the bank holidays.

I know I am in the minority when it comes to appreciation of the event; yet when I read comments which suggest I should feel privileged to experience those luxury cars I am hardly won over. Indeed I feel a little patronised.

However every year the festival comes around and the town centre fills with the sights of expensive reds and greens and then at some point in the afternoon it fills with the exhaust fumes of those cars. All provided by the purchased privilege of a number of individuals who travel from various parts of the country to demonstrate their wealth.

Meanwhile I look to Woking and wonder why if the event is about high performance cars are we not encouraging the likes of McLaren to attend and exhibit; after all theirs is a presence which is far more local to our town than Ferrari. I guess what I am seeking is a balance in these events; something which points to excesses in generosity as well as investment in communities.

I am told that these events are good for the town but my own research with local shop owners shows that whilst it will be great for our abundant cafe and restaurant culture it bites into the foot fall of other shops whose fronts are crowded by the spectators and the cars. Additionally the lack of late night music events, or night life culture, restricts the potential for continued spending and attendance in the town.

Again I return to the question where are the complimentary events throughout the year which mirror the commitment that this festival attracts. Where are the Festivals of Sound, of Sports and Dance, or of Technology? An event for every season preferably not promoted with stereotyped accents in video. When the Carfax is cleared of cars and the streets return to their usually accessible levels and the endless queues of Smart Parking victims return will we see a true audit of the value available to Horsham high street or is that another luxury for which we will not be privileged?