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People make a city not walls

Harry Bell (Challenging Restaurant Was A Big Macstake, Herne Bay Gazette, November 13) says Canterbury is moving towards a 24-hour economy. It ought not to and, indeed, it can not. He cites the American experience with approval. Let us take New York as an example. New York is a large modern city with a grid pattern of wide streets. It is famed for never sleeping; incomers know it and residents have adjusted to it. Shops and pharmacies, restaurants and diners as well as bars are open all night. Police are on patrol and exercise zero tolerance of bad behaviour. Public transport runs round the clock. That is what I call a 24-hour economy. Canterbury, by contrast, is a small, walled, medieval city with narrow echoing streets. Its residents need sleep; nothing except bars and takeaways are open at night; the police are rarely present and there is no public transport.

The only thing which is available after midnight is alcohol. We have the disadvantages of 24-hour licensing without the advantages of a 24-hour economy. The situation is unlikely to change. Canterbury has a lot going for it, but it is the wrong size and shape and it lacks the infrastructure and the resources for a genuine 24-hour economy. Let us instead develop its many existing attractions, and strengthen the community in the city centre. After all, “it is people, not walls, that make a city”.

John Arnold, Hawks Lane, Carterbury

Herne Bay Gazette, November 20th 2014

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