COACH drivers have said more thought should have been given to the timing of redeveloping their parking spaces in Oxpens.
Oxford City Council closed off part of the coach park on Monday as it prepares for the £400m Westgate redevelopment.
More car parking spaces will be created when the site replaces the Westgate multi-storey as part of the long-awaited revamp of the shopping centre.
But long-term coach and lorry parking is being moved from Oxpens to the Redbridge Park-and-Ride site off Abingdon Road.
And some drivers have hit out at the timing – at the height of the tourist season.
Donal Maher, a Marshall Coaches driver, said: “There’s nowhere near enough parking for coaches in Oxford anyway, they were turning coaches away this morning.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s easier to park a coach in London sometimes.”
And Alfie Buckley, a driver for Coach UK, said: “It’s ludicrous to do it at this time of year, I’ve been lucky to get a free bay.”
The number of coach parking bays at Oxpens has been cut from 34 to 11, but the city council is providing temporary replacement coach parking at Westgate and Abbey Place.
But drivers said the council had failed to tell them about the overflow parking.
All long-term coach and lorry parking will eventually be moved to Redbridge.
Engineering work began there last Monday and should be completed next week.
Work on the £400m retail development, to provide 70 new shops, up to 120 new homes and a two-storey basement car park with 1,000 spaces could get under way early next year.
City council spokesman Chofamba Sithole said: “Oxpens car park will close from Monday so the site can be prepared for the new car park. It is anticipated that the new Oxpens car park will be completed by the end of the year.”
He said shoppers should use the Abbey Place or Westgate car park while Oxpens is closed.
Coach drivers have also said parking in the city centre is too expensive at £20 for 24 hours with no other options for shorter stay payments.
Driver Mr Buckley said: “There’s no compromise, you’ve got no choice. It’s £20 or you don’t park.”
And Alan Badrick, of Met Coaches, said: “In Stratford upon-Avon for example they charge you a pound an hour; here it’s £20 no matter how long you stay.”
City council spokesman Mr Sithole: “The £20 coach parking fee covers a 24 hour period and is unchanged, following a review of coach parking prices last year.”
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