A POPULAR Worcester cafe says tourists are being "driven out of Worcester" after council chiefs decided to hike coach parking fees up 100 per cent.
Cafe Severn on the Quay, which sits opposite Croft Road car park and overlooks the riverside, says both coaches and lorries are voting with their feet since Worcester City Council whacked up prices in April.
In a bid to tackle pollution and make the riverside more pleasant, prices for coaches to park in dedicated bays went from £5 to £10.
Lorry fees went up from £5 to £25, a 400 per cent rise, with the council's Labour leadership saying it wanted some form of 'deterrent'.
But your Worcester News can reveal how the move has infuriated coach firms, many of whom have told the cafe they will not be returning to the city.
The cafe, which says it relies on trade from tourists stopping through Worcester, has collected written views from 24 different coach or lorry drivers who are all fuming about it.
Among those signing it were drivers from some of Britain's best known coach companies taking tourists to or from holiday destinations.
Chris Wise, who runs the cafe, said: "I've got to make a stand because the way it's going I won't have a business to run.
"I've told them I think it's commercial suicide, for the sake of £5 they are losing maybe hundreds of customers each time.
"It'll hammer the city. I don't think half the shops realise what's going on."
The council says there are three free coach parking bays in King Street for drivers looking to avoid the riverside.
It also says it is talking with council officials in nearby Gloucester, which offers free coach parking and special promotions like deals on food and drink, to see if any ideas can be replicated here.
A spokesman for the city council said: "We are aware of concerns from coach drivers in relation to increased charges at Croft Road car park.
"We are currently reviewing coach parking facilities and drop off points in the city, and officers are in contact with Gloucester City Council to see if schemes they offer would work well in Worcester.
"We are also meeting with the Worcester BID (Business Improvement District, which representsthe shops) and other interested parties in the near future with a view to providing better opportunities for coach parking within the city."
Councillor Adrian Gregson, the leader, said: "Our main concern is tourism and encouraging people to visit the city - we are talking to people to see what different options we might have."
WHAT JUST SOME OF THE COACH AND LORRY DRIVERS SAID
"Two hours stop in Worcester and it cost me £10, will not stop here again, we don't even pay that in London."
"I was outraged that the coach parking has been increased after all we do to bring people into the city."
"I stop here for a lunch stop rather than the motorway services, a £10 parking charge for a two-hour stop is too much so in future I will go to Gloucester or elsewhere."
"Stopped for lunch on way back from Tenby. Ideal at £5 but (at £10) I shall take all 49 passengers and their money to Tewkesbury as its £3 to park there."
"This is a regular monthly shopping trip, my passengers bring enough money to Worcester with shopping, eating, plus entertainment - we cater for the disabled so have to be close - £10 on top is ridiculous."
"Another town driving away coach business, it will keep us away - our coaches travel from Weston-super-Mare."
"Stopped here for two hours and it was £10, too much. That's another 48 tourists you will lose."
"I often stop at Worcester on the way home, good facilities for passengers.
"As a driver I cannot justify paying double for parking, especially when we bring so many people at a time - motorway services next time."
"£10 is too much for parking these days when the country is in such a poor state, you should be encouraging coach companies to your city, not driving them away."