Our Council demanded £850 compensation for ‘lost revenue’ – and the red tape almost drove this Sunday’s Herne Bay bus rally off the road.
Organisers admitted this week they were considering cancelling the annual event when Canterbury City Council demanded payment for unused parking spaces. Julian Bowden, who took over running the rally last year with Nigel Coupe, said:
“The city council’s events team and town co-ordinator Chris West have been brilliant, and know how many visitors the rally brings to Herne Bay. But then the council’s parking services department stepped in and dropped a bombshell by demanding £850 compensation for lost revenue from the spaces the buses use in William Street car park. It was virtually the same amount We raised for our chosen charity, Demelza children’s hospices, last year. We felt it was a little excessive.”
The volunteer organisers were also hit with a bill for £40 to cover administration charges. But a deal was struck at the 11th hour over the compensation demand. Mr Bowden, said:
“We had a very sensible meeting and reached a compromise of £200. Luckily we carried out a traffic management survey the weekend before which showed only 53 spaces were used on the Sunday. After our buses and coaches have taken up 216 spaces there will be 48 spaces left. We thought that was nearly adequate.”
However, he admits his survey coincided “unknown to us” with the Whitstable Oyster Festival, which kept Herne Bay parking artificially low. The team hope to cover the costs with extra advertising in the programme. Council spokesman Rob Davies said:
“The original charge was based on the loss of the whole car park to the event. However, we discussed the situation with the organisers and agreed on a lower fee. We hope the event is a great success.”
This year Bay bus driver Chris Ingram has rejoined the organising team after a year off. Organisers are expecting 40 buses, ranging from a 1937 pre-war single-decker East Kent coach to an open-top former Maidstone and District bus. The rally runs from 10am to 5pm on Sunday; there will be a free shuttle service from the station and free bus trips around town.