I read with interest the recent article regarding the situation with Bourton-on-the-Water coach parking.
I should say that, having spoken to many driver colleagues over the last 12 months, many operators are already pulling out, yet it seems that Cotswold District Council is dragging its heels.
The situation from my perspective is complicated, having spoken to the owner of the car park on a few occasions.
Allegations of excessive rates levied by the Council and constant complaints from residents over noise from coach engines seem to be the central problems.
My first encounter with the owner was, to say the least, a bit heated. The very heated exchange of words centred around the coach engine running for five minutes or so before departure. As we all know, with passengers on board, it’s not just advisable but essential to have air conditioning on.
The owner of the car park and I had quite a disagreement on our first encounter (although, since then, we have spoken face-to-face and had some resolution).
The argument centred around his suggestion that I should turn off my engine and then restart it, to deceive the residents into thinking that one engine had shut down and another coach had fired up. When I refused – frankly because it was a ridiculous suggestion – the car park owner became very hostile and intimidating, which led to an unpleasant exchange in front of passengers.
Now, we have all experienced these disputes in our careers, but the situation escalated with a frivolous and nuisance complaint to my boss. That was totally unnecessary.
Anyone in the industry will certainly know that there is a relentless pressure on the coach industry to always comply, yield and flex to everyone else’s demands. I say that having started with Amberline of Liverpool in 1987, on a youth training scheme! Great days.
However, after a while, it starts to grind you down. Our industry does flex and bend to demand – all the time, but in this case Cotswold District Council needs to grow up and sort this out.
Last week, I visited Moreton-in-Marsh and spoke to a chap managing a free car park, out of town, with space to park and turn around. He said that, due to the Bourton-on-the-Water problem, many operators were now choosing Moreton as a two-hour stop, much to the delight of local businesses.
Coaches are already moving away from Bourton. As seen in your recent article, the writing appears to be on the wall.