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Search for new tourist coach park
THE search is underway to find a new coach park for Salisbury that will accommodate thousands of tourist buses every year.
As part of the plans for the Maltings redevelopment the 35 coach parking spaces next to Central Car Park are due to be scrapped.
Each year around 6,000 coaches pull in to the city bringing many of Salisbury’s 5 million visitors.
Chief executive of VisitWiltshire David Andrews says it is essential for the city’s economy that a new coach park is found.
“Salisbury has Coach Friendly Status and it is very important that we retain it especially as our competitors have it and are constantly upping their game,” he said.
“Coach tourists spend millions of pounds in the city every year - we need to continue to attract them and for tour operators to bring them here.”
John Burch from the Confederation of Passenger Transport spent a day in Salisbury, advising Mr Andrews of the options.
He said it would be possible for coaches bringing day visitors to drop off their passengers in the city centre and for the drivers to take the coach to either Britford or Petersfinger park and ride.
However facilities at the park and ride sites have been cut back and toilets and refreshment areas would need to be reopened.
Dropping off large numbers of tourists on the city’s busy roads might also prove controversial with residents.
People living in St Ann Street and Exeter Street have already complained about waiting buses belching out fumes by their homes and might not welcome extra coach-loads of tourists being dropped off in the city centre.
Mr Andrews said that some coach visitors only stay for an hour or two so it would not be viable for the drivers to take the bus to the park and ride sites.
“For these services we would have to look at providing a smaller coach parking area in the city centre maybe with room for about six coaches and it would need a toilet,” he said.
“It would have to be in the city centre and we need to work with the Salisbury Vision, Wiltshire Council and the BID (Business Improvement District) to find the best location.”
Salisbury City Councillor Margaret Willmot asked Wiltshire Council’s cabinet what they intended to do to help Salisbury retain Coach Friendly Status at the cabinet’s meeting last Tuesday.
Transport cabinet member John Thomson said: “This is part of a bigger issue. We must look ahead – in 15 years will the people of Salisbury want coaches rolling through the city centre?
“The tourist coach drop-off is chaos and not suitable.
“We will have to look at the best use of the assets in Salisbury to come up with a long term solution.”
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