Tourist coaches to be prohibited in the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’


Tourist coaches to be prohibited in the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ – and locals say it’ll sink their businesses

Parking provision for tourist coaches in a village known as the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ is set to be removed from December this year – a move that locals claim could sink businesses. 

Bourton-on-the-Water has been a popular destination for coach tours since the 1920s and has eight bays for the vehicles at its privately owned Bourton Vale Car Park, down from 19.

However, these are set to be converted to car-only slots, a move that Sarita Tapper, who runs a clothes shop in much-loved Bourton, warned could result in local businesses folding.

Sarita, 54, who has worked at Chestnuts Fashion Fix for 32 years, told MailOnline Travel: ‘Could businesses fold? Definitely. If the coaches stop, our earnings would drop 50 per cent. You’d find the same with a lot of other local businesses.

‘People coming on coaches, they save up, it’s a special day, they spend, they utilise the facilities. Whereas people coming by cars don’t necessarily spend.

Parking provision for tourist coaches in Bourton-on-the-Water is set to be removed

Parking provision for tourist coaches in Bourton-on-the-Water is set to be removed

Sarita Tapper, pictured, who has run Chestnuts Fashion Fix in Bourton-on-the-Water for 32 years, says that she relies on money spent by coach day-trippers

Sarita Tapper, pictured, who has run Chestnuts Fashion Fix in Bourton-on-the-Water for 32 years, says that she relies on money spent by coach day-trippers 

‘We can be busy on weekdays, but as soon as we have a miserable day it goes really quiet. On a wet day, drivers won’t come out. But coaches come regardless of the weather because they’re pre-booked.

‘Coaches are a lifeline to businesses and local jobs in Bourton-on-the-Water and have been for over a century.’

Sarita explained that the company that owns Bourton Vale Car Park is converting it to car-only as it claims the vehicles are more profitable.

The previous Conservative council paid the firm a subsidy to ensure the coach bays remained open, but the current Liberal Democrat council has cut this funding.

Sarita is so furious with the Lib Dem council that she has banned its councillors from her shop.

She added: ‘The Lib Dems aren’t doing anything. We’re not getting any answers from them.

‘We’re at our wit’s end.’

Sarita said: 'Coaches are a lifeline to businesses and local jobs in Bourton-on-the-Water and have been for over a century'

Sarita said: ‘Coaches are a lifeline to businesses and local jobs in Bourton-on-the-Water and have been for over a century’

BOURTON-ON-THE-WATER IS SO BEAUTIFUL ITS WEBSITE REMINDS VISITORS THAT ‘IT’S NOT A THEME PARK’ 

Bourton-on-the-Water is the quintessential English hamlet, a real-life Neverland with olde-worlde honey-coloured stone buildings and a serene river – the Windrush – flowing underneath quaint arched bridges.

Rough Guides describes it as ‘one of the most romantic places in the UK’, while the Bourton-on-the-Water website, Bourtoninfo.com, tells visitors: ‘Bourton is not a theme park, it does not open and close, nor is there an entry fee. It is a vibrant village, home to some 4,000 residents, buzzing with many community groups, local events and fantastic small businesses.’

It adds: ‘Known as the Venice of the Cotswolds, this one village offers a wealth of attractions and shops, restaurants, cafes and tea rooms. Or simply the space for you to enjoy some pleasurable time engrossed by the movement of the sparkling waters of the River Windrush, spanned by its five arched bridges.’

Chantelle Whitelegg, 31, who owns Chestnuts Tea Room and Once Upon a Candy Shop alongside her husband Joe, shares Sarita’s worries.

She told the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: ‘Without the coaches, there will be a lot of boarded-up shops and cafes.’

Local Conservative councillor Madan Samuel said that one solution could be to convert a council car park on Rissington Road to provide spaces for coaches.

He told MailOnline Travel: ‘This was the original coach park but has been refurbished and opened only as a car park. If this had opened as a refurbished “Coach Park” instead of a car park it would have prevented the ongoing dilemma of where to house coaches in Bourton village. It is ideal.

‘It is outside the main village and there is a well-established walk way into the village.’

He added: ‘Coaches are an environmentally friendly means of seeing the Cotswolds and [in Bourton] high-street businesses depend on the coaches for their survival.

‘The Bourton Vale Car Park is a private car park. As with any private business they are recouping following losses post-lockdown. Come December 2023, there will be no coach parking in Bourton village. The Cotswold District Council has had more than two years to sort out this mess and nothing has been done.’

A spokesman from Cotswold District Council told the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: ‘While it is wholly the decision of a private business to change their operations, since learning of their decision the district council has been proactively working with the local community and stakeholders, including Bourton Business Network representatives, to look at options for the future.

‘We have explored alternative sites and different arrangements but so far none have been found that would be practical. This work will continue over the coming months as we explore all avenues.’ 

Cotswold District Council has not responded to a request for comment from MailOnline. 



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