Tue, 10 Sept 2019
NEWBURY Town Council is calling on West Berkshire Council to scrap parking charges for coaches visiting the town instead of increasing them.
The district council is considering increasing the charges for coaches using the new bus interchange at The Wharf from £2 for an overnight stay to £6 and reducing the time allowed for a £4 fee from two hours to one-and-a-half hours.
The town council fears that the changes will lead to coaches by-passing Newbury and using the M4 service stations, which would result in fewer visitors to the town.
The chairman of Newbury’s planning and highways committee, Tony Vickers, is calling on the district council to remove the charges entirely.
He said: “The coaches bring important and valuable business to Newbury and we should be doing all we can to encourage them to use The Wharf.
“While the district council did not provide any explanation for this move, we reckon that the small increase in income from raising these charges could jeopardise valuable business for the town centre.
“It sends out the wrong message to coach operators who use our town centre facilities.
“That is why we are calling on the district council to abandon this proposal and think about how we can all work together to grow business for Newbury.”
Town council leader Martin Colston said it was an objective of the authority to work with tour operators that bring visitors to Newbury.
He said: “Newbury is a frequent stopping place for coach drivers because of its central position on the national coach network.
“We should encourage close relationships with the operators.
“The Newbury Town Plan proposes that suitable facilities should be provided to welcome visitors and accommodate the needs of coach drivers and companies.”
The town council is also supported by the Newbury Business Improvement District (BID), which works to improve the town centre economy.
Newbury BID chief executive Laurie-Jane Cann said: “At Visit Newbury we recognise that local authorities continue to face unprecedented budget pressure and wish to support them in any way we can, but we support the town council’s response and urge the district council to rethink this move.
“The popularity of Newbury continues to grow as a tourist destination thanks to hit shows such as Downton Abbey and The Great British Bake Off.
“We should do all we can to encourage tourism in the area.
“Since 2010, tourism is the fastest-growing sector in the UK in employment terms.
“The more we encourage visitors to the area the more it benefits the local economy.”