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Eastbourne & Willingdon Lib Dems

Where are coaches to park?

April 24, 2007 4:24 PM

Since the closure of Watling Road coach park last year, which had the capacity to take fifty coaches in a lock-up and over twenty on the available uncovered space, the council had promised a new venue for thirty five coaches at Birch Road. The new site has, in fact, been further reduced to under thirty coaches. A considerable drop on the Watling Road total.

Lib Dem parliamentary campaigner, Stephen Lloyd said: "Profound concerns have been raised that there are simply not enough coach spaces in Eastbourne nowadays. Watling Road took up to seventy coaches yet the replacement in Birch Road appears to have been reduced to under thirty. An brutal cut in provision. Yet bizarely the council keep insisting there is not much of a problem. Meanwhile I am being contacted by anxious local businesses who tell me the shortage of coach spaces in Eastbourne has become acute. John Playdell from the Hippodrome Theatre told me weeks ago there were not going to be enough spaces for the holiday trade and now I have been contacted by a number of companies that run courses fro foreign students in Eastbourne.

Maureen Lenoir from Executive English Courses and Jill Wright from CATS. They have both confirmed to me that the growing lack of coach spaces since Watling Road closed has become critical.

Eastbourne receives in excess of 100,000 foreign students a year from Europe. The income they generate for host families in the Town is absolutely vital to many local residents, let alone the additional spend they bring to Eastbourne. And yet the council seem to be doing all they can to make life impossible for this important area of Eastbourne business.

The Conservative Group who run the council have to take responsibility for this fiasco. It happened on their watch. They decided to flog off Watling Road for as much money as they could get without making proper provision. It simply beggars belief the council have got themselves into such a mess."

Maureen Lenoir from Executive English Courses added: "I have been organising trips for foreign students to Eastbourne for twenty five years and the facilties now for coach parking are worse than they have ever been. Aside from the basic mathamatics that the replacement for Watling Road provides fifty or so less spaces than before, which is absurd, where are the remaining coaches supposed to go? The almost anti business approach by this council is extraordinary. As well as the lack of space, simple issues like charging £10 for washing the coaches at the Birch Road site where before it was free and a £16 each way taxi fare that we now have to factor in to ferry coach drivers from Birch Road into town, mean it is becoming uneconomic to bring foreign students to Eastbourne. Host families receive between £11 to £15 per day to house these students so it does not take a genius to work out that local residents receive over £1,000,000 per year for providing this vital servcie. I simply cannot comprehend the council's lack of forward planning. It's not good enough for them to keep repeating the line to the press that everything is fine when people like myself, who rely on their being adequate space for coaches, know full well that Eastbourne has a major problem on it's hands."

Jill Wright of CATS added: "I am absolutely furious at the council. As well as their simply not being enough parking spaces for our coaches, they add insult to injury by providing a wholly inadequate service at Junction Road where the coaches drop off the students. It is becoming impossible for host families to access Junction Road, parking charges are now up to £15 and if Birch Road is full, which of course it often now is, where on earth are we supposed to put our coaches? Frankly, I'm almost tempted to park our coaches outside the Town Hall. Maybe then they would start to take our concerns seriously."