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Food voucher bid to win back coaches in Worcester
DISGRUNTLED coach drivers unhappy with parking rises in Worcester are being tempted back by free food and drink.
The offer comes as under-fire Worcester City Council has pledged to use its website to better promote a scheme giving the drivers £10 to spend in 14 different cafes and pubs.
As your Worcester News revealed last week, coach drivers and a riverside cafe have hit out after the council doubled the charges for them to use Croft Road car park.
More than 20 angry coach firms have signed a protest book at Cafe Severn on the Quay, opposite Croft Road, saying they will take their tourists elsewhere after charges went from £5 to £10.
Worcester Business Improvement District (BID), which represents retailers, says the drivers can get a £10 food and drink voucher from the tourist information centre in the High Street if they use the car park.
The body also says it offers a 'meet and greet' service of its own, where staff can help passengers with directions or specific queries, and publicise events staged that day.
Adrian Field, from Worcester BID, said: "We want to make Worcester an attractive proposition for coaches to come to and entice the operators and their drivers here rather than other towns, cities and garden centres.
"Drivers collect their voucher from the tourist information centre to spend at the participating outlets to spend up to £10, and we heavily subsidise the cost incurred by those outlets so everybody benefits."
Unlike nearby Gloucester, where a similar scheme is publicised on their council's website, Worcester City Council's does not promote it, but it is now being looked into.
Councillor Adrian Gregson, city council leader, said: "The scheme in place is a good one and if there's an issue about promotion and communication we will do all we possibly can to address that."
It comes as Councillor Simon Geraghty, opposition Tory group leader, renewed his call for the parking rises to be scrapped yesterday.
He said: "Everybody can see the impact this is having already, coaches don't like it and it could harm tourism in this city.
"The charges should never have gone up in the first place and if we were in control we'd bring them back down, starting with these unfair coach prices."
Cllr Gregson said doing that would mean extra cuts being made elsewhere, on top of the £1 million already having to be slashed.
Chris Wise, who runs Cafe Severn on the Quay, launched the protest after coach drivers approached him about it.
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