Thousands may stop visiting Truro due to Cornwall Council 'nightmare' coach park change

A mixture of visiting coaches and local buses parked at Truro coach park
-Credit: (Image: Jonathan Keam)


Holiday coach companies are considering taking Truro off their Cornwall itineraries due to a furore over the loss of vital parking spaces in the city. The city's town crier, who welcomes visiting coach passengers to Truro four days a week, has dubbed the situation a "nightmare".

During the pandemic when there was an obvious lack of visiting coaches, Cornwall Council agreed to allow Go Cornwall Bus (GCB) - which operates the subsidised bus network on behalf of the council - to use five of the spaces in the city's coach park, which has been in operation for visiting holiday coaches for over 50 years. This means there are now just six spaces left for visiting coaches.

Last month, local bus driver Jonathan Keam said the decision to halve the number of coach spaces was "putting two fingers up to Truro". He added: "Truro is losing out as I know coaches are turning around and taking people to places like Newquay and Falmouth instead. There's hell up."

The council says it has increased the number of spaces for visiting coaches at the park and ride site, as well as making facilities there available to coach drivers.

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The problem has continued in recent weeks, with buses and coaches jammed into the coach park behind Lemon Quay this week to ensure cruise ship passengers arriving in Falmouth could be dropped off in the city. Around 2,000 passengers visited Truro on Saturday and Monday, but the lack of space led to heated exchanges between bus and coach drivers, and there are concerns much of this lucrative holiday market could be lost to the city if a solution is not found.

Truro town crier Lionel Knight welcomes coach parties to Truro on Wednesdays to Saturdays. He said: "It's absolutely disgusting. I think Cornwall Council stinks by doing it. It's always been a coach park for the last 50 years and all of a sudden they've given buses permission to park in there instead of visitors' coaches."

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What effect is that having on the holiday coaches?

"Well they're not coming and they won't come. I've spoken to a lot of drivers over the last few weeks and they said if that's what Truro wants then they'll go on to Falmouth and other places. It's not good at all for Truro.

"The last couple of days we've had cruise ships coming in - on Saturday we had around 20 coaches and we managed to squeeze them all in, luckily enough, but it caused a bit of an atmosphere with one or two drivers kicking up about it."

He added: "On Monday we had the same with cruise ship visitors again - another 20 coaches - and there were drivers kicking up again because of the lack of space. Some of the passengers had to be offloaded on the road and the coaches went up to the park and ride, which is a bit of a problem. It's a nightmare.

"Some drivers told me last week that upcountry coach companies have decided to leave Truro off their itineraries next year because of this. We need those visitors. The red (Go Cornwall) buses should go up the park and ride."

Town clerk David Rodda said Truro City Council was only made aware of Cornwall Council's decision recently and had no knowledge of it before signs were installed "which is disappointing to say the least".

He added: "Once we found out we have been in discussions with the Transport for Cornwall team and Go Bus Cornwall about the matter to see if a solution can be found. These discussions are ongoing. The number of coaches involved in ferrying the cruise ship passengers from Falmouth to Truro has highlighted the issue as a large number of coaches arrived in quick succession.

"I am aware that one local operator has commented that due to concerns about parking in the coach park he may choose to amend his tours to other areas of Cornwall, but he was not involved in the cruise ship transfers as far as I am aware."

Mr Rodda said the Visit Truro team were on hand on Monday to help ensure that disruption was kept to a minimum and a debrief session will be held with coach operators and an excursion company to get feedback on their recent trips to get a better understanding of what options exist in the future.

"The positive story here is that Truro welcomed over 1,000 cruise ship passengers today (Monday) which is a key part of our strategy to encourage more footfall in Truro," added the town clerk.

One of the coach companies which visits Truro is Swindon-based Barnes Coaches. Truro is currently included in its 'Best of Cornwall in a weekend' tour and 'Scenic Coastal Cornwall' itinerary, but it is considering dropping off at other towns in Cornwall instead.

Matt Barnes, who runs the company, said: "We use the coach park a lot and this would divert us elsewhere, as there are lots of options."

Truro Business Improvement District (BID) manager Alun Jones, who oversees the retail area of the city, has previously said: “We fully support the Truro coach park being available to its full potential for incoming visitor coaches. To maximise our ability to safely receive the various visitor coaches, the coach operators will need access to the Truro coach park, therefore any steps taken to achieve maximum space for coaches within the coach park is welcomed."

A spokesperson for Cornwall Council told us last month: “We appreciate the importance to Truro’s economy of both visiting coaches and local bus services which bring many people into the city for both work and leisure. GCB has made use of space at Truro Coach Park since 2020. This means drivers can access GCB driver facilities as well as support staff and the Network Control hub.

“The agreement to use the site has recently been formalised with the introduction of new signs and parking bays in the coach park. There are five bays for GCB use, six bays for visiting coaches and another bay for the community bus.

“We have also increased the number of spaces available to coaches visiting Truro and improved the services for coach drivers. There are an additional ten free coach layover bays at the Tregurra Park and Ride site with drivers able to use the building’s facilities and park and ride service for free if required after dropping passengers off in the coach park.

“This brings the total number of coach bays available in the city from 11 to 16. We have contacted all local coach operators to advise them of the changes and initial feedback has been positive. The Confederation of Passenger Transport has shared this information with coach operators from further afield and expressed support for this decision. We will consider increasing the number of spaces available if there is a demonstrable need."