Rogue Coaches Cause Car Park Chaos – Clarification from The Old Smithy
As many of you may well know, there are many rumours doing the rounds regarding the difficulties that have occured in the Godshill free car park when coaches arrive. We approached the Old Smithy and Steve has kindly gone to great lengths to explain the situation to us.
The situations have arisen when unexpected coaches arrive at the height barrier to the Old Smithy car/coach park. Covid regulations have dictated the way in which the Old Smithy needs to handle all coaches. Essentially, all coaches MUST pre-book their arrival with the Old Smithy. No booking – no entry.
Steve also explained that they have gone to extraordinary lengths to inform all of the coach operators, hotels and other accommodation providers of the need to pre-book their parking. The information can also be clearly found on the Old Smithy website. Steve has even published the information in the coach magazines such as RouteOne.
Steve goes on to say:
Pre-Covid the Old Smithy always allowed all coaches and cars free and easy access to extensive parking, without restrictions.
However last year during the pandemic it became obvious with the numbers of visitors coming to Godshill and the lack of businesses open (and those open having limited capacity) that we would have to make some changes, in order that we could achieve the social distancing required under the government regulations.
We therefore started to ask coaches to book in so as to avoid several turning up at once. Several companies refused to book in, turning up regularly un-booked sometimes several coaches at a time and were extremely abusive to my members of staff and we have taken the decision to not allow those companies back.
At the moment the Covid pandemic continues and with the prospect of restrictions now lasting longer, we are not accepting coaches with the exception of a few coaches pre-booked with the Model Village and Ramblers/walkers coaches.
Over the last few weeks the village has been very busy again and it would be very difficult to take many coaches especially as several of the coffee shops are again still closed.
The information regarding the Coach parking situation is clearly available on our website. We operated the booking system all last year having informed as many hotels and accommodation providers in advance as possible. We put the information out on coach magazines such as RouteOne.
If coaches having contacted us take the decision to still turn up, despite the fact they know there is no parking available and thus create problems (such as the Vision Tours coach in your post from May), THEY are at fault NOT us.
Likewise the coaches who turn up and say that they did not know about the parking situation – THEY are at fault NOT us. What responsible coach company would take a group of people to a venue without checking what the restrictions are in advance? All of these companies should be planning their itineraries, checking on any restrictions and risk assessing the venues in advance as they claim they do on their websites.
I have an obligation to my staff and customers to operate in a Covid secure environment. In the last 12 months we have been subject to 3 Covid spot-checks by the Isle of Wight Council.
When we are in a position to take more coaches we will do so. That means we need to be happy that we can operate within the regulations set out by the Government.
However we will only be working in future with the coach companies that have been responsible and have cooperated with us during these difficult times.