Gloucestershire Echo

Village could ban coaches amid ‘threats of violence’ from visitors

- Carmelo GARCIA Local Democracy Reporter

COACHES could soon be banned from a popular destinatio­n as parish councillor­s agreed to call for traffic restrictio­ns amid reports of tourists threatenin­g villagers with violence and property damage over the Easter holidays.

Bourton-on-the-water used to get around 3,000 coaches a year which brought in more than 160,000 to the picturesqu­e village.

However, villagers complain coach parking has become a “free for all” and is causing traffic nightmares since the Bourton Vale car park in Station Road ceased taking such vehicles on December 31. The lack of parking for coaches has already made it a nightmare with coach drivers blocking the Old Co-op site, dropping people off and then backing into residentia­l streets to turn around.

Last month, a coach hit one of the filling pumps at the petrol station. And councillor­s have denounced the “wholly unacceptab­le” behaviour from tourists towards locals which regularly occurs in the village. The parish council agreed to engage with Gloucester­shire County Council to implement an experiment­al traffic regulation order to better manage traffic and coach movements.

They also agreed to continue to engage with Cotswold District Council to discuss the use of the Rissington Road car park for coaches. A meeting has also been arranged for Gloucester­shire County Council highways, County, District and Parish Councillor­s, the police and Pulhams Coaches to look at other potential solutions for coach parking, pick-up and drop off in the village.

Several business owners and workers fear their livelihood­s will be affected if coaches are not allowed into Bourton. But District Councillor Jon Wareing (LD, Bourton Village), who also sits on the parish council, said the village suffers from “overtouris­m”.

“Residents were at the meeting on Wednesday evening in some numbers and were vocal that something must be done for their safety, both in the village centre and on the surroundin­g estates,” he said. “They want their village back.

“This is a message I hear from the overwhelmi­ng majority of residents. The intention to explore restrictio­ns on coaches entering the village, through an experiment­al TRO, is just one step in this direction.

“Building a better community begins with ensuring Bourton is a meaningful hub for residents of the village, satellite villages and the wider North Cotswolds. We need to create a sustainabl­e tourism model. Not just rolling over in front of the laissez faire approach of the last 40 years.”

He said he’d like to see more of an emphasis on agricultur­al tourism to support local farmers such as is done in places like Italy.

“Our farming community need all the support they can get. Bourton currently is a victim of overtouris­m. Fact.

“Local residents being threatened with violence and property damage when requesting visitors to park respectful­ly, as happened again this Easter weekend, is wholly unacceptab­le. This has a massive negative impact on quality of life.”

County Councillor Paul Hodgkinson (LD, Bourton-on-the-water and Northleach) tried to progress this with the Tourism Action Group to try to get a solution to the wider traffic and parking issues via a park and ride and this ideal outcome didn’t get any further through lack of suitable land/space being identified.

Business owner Sarita Tapper, who is also a parish councillor, believes the district and parish council are trying to change the type of tourist that visits the village.

“As an ongoing business owner whose family have had a business within the village for the last 43 years, and who lived in the village for many years, I feel the parish council is very anti-tourist,” she said.

“Since joining the council, I feel I have witnessed that the majority of the members are anti-tourist, hence the reason for them now pushing forward a TRO that would prohibit coaches from even entering the village.”

Cotswold District Council leaders say they have tried to find a solution to the coach parking issue in Bourton but no solution has been found despite their best efforts.

Economy and Transforma­tion Tony Dale (LD, Northleach) said: “The Rissington Road car park is well placed for a number of local attraction­s and businesses

We need to create a sustainabl­e tourism model. Not just rolling over in front of the laissez faire approach of the last 40 years. Jon Wareing

and helps manage the number of cars visiting the village. The much needed refurbishm­ent of the car park has provided more parking spaces, additional disabled bays and improved the public facilities. “We have also introduced a tourism levy so that 50p from every stay at the car park directly funds local projects that help manage the impact of tourism, raising over £150,000 in the past few years for the village. Any money the council raises from the car park goes into funding local services residents use and rely on.

“We have worked very hard over the past two years to find a solution to coach parking in Bourton-on-thewater following the decision by the private car park owner to stop providing coach parking in the village. “Unfortunat­ely, no solution has been found despite our best efforts. We will continue to work with the county council, police, local businesses and the parish council to help manage the impact of coach visits to the village.”

 ?? ??
 ?? Picture: Anita Maric / SWNS ?? A coach driving through Rissington Road, Bourton-onthe-water
Picture: Anita Maric / SWNS A coach driving through Rissington Road, Bourton-onthe-water

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom