Swale council boasts that Sheppey is now a top tourist attraction with its three award-winning Blue Flag beaches and stunning aviation and maritime heritage.
Yet it still refuses to let coaches packed with day-trippers officially park on the holiday Island.
Instead, bewildered drivers are told the borough’s only designated coach park is a 40-minute drive away in Faversham - a 40-mile return trip.
The few car parks which could have coped with coaches carrying tourists now have height barriers fitted to deter overnight camping by motorhome owners.
Frustrated coach driver Hugh Johnson asked: “Where am I supposed to park?”
He was caught out when he turned up with a party of 33 London schoolgirls eager to spend a day splashing in the sea off one of the Island’s beaches.
His coach ended up temporarily parked on the coast road between Sheerness and Minster just feet away from an official car park.
He said: “The last time I came here was three years ago, before Covid, and I could park easily on the grass. Now the car park has a height restriction. I couldn’t believe it.
“I’m told the only designated coach park in Swale is in Faversham. But that’s crazy. That’s a 40-mile round trip. What coach driver is going to go that far, especially these days with the price of diesel? It's a scandal.”
He added: “All coach drivers expect to pay for parking. But it is very unusual we can’t find somewhere to park, especially at a seaside resort like Sheppey. It was really frustrating seeing all the space in the car park but knowing I couldn’t use any of it.”
The lack of coach parks was raised at a recent Sheppey area committee by Jenny Hurkett who runs the popular Criterion Theatre and Blue Town Heritage Centre.
She said: “I first raised this 12 years ago and still the council has done nothing. I can’t get any new tour operators interested in visiting the Island because the first question they always ask is where is the nearest designated coach park? We desperately need not just one but at least three to serve Sheerness, Queenborough and Leysdown.”
She has already identified possible sites at the shingle bank at Minster, the car park opposite the Ship on Shore pub at Sheerness and derelict land at West Minster now used as a temporary lorry park, as well as space near her own venue in Blue Town.
A spokeswoman for Swale council said: “We’re looking into coach parking solutions on the Island.
“Local people expressed the need for more coach parking at Sheppey area committee meetings and we’ve taken that on board. Once we have a viable solution, we’ll present it to a community committee meeting for feedback.”
Cllr Elliott Jayes (Independents Alliance, Sheppey Central) said he had asked Kent County Council about using its grass strip next to Swale council’s Ship on Shore car park in Marine Parade so coaches could access the car park.
He said he was waiting to hear back. The area committee resolved that “owing to issues outside Swale Borough Council’s control” the matter “could not currently be progressed”.
It added that when feedback was received, any decision would go to the communities committee.
Cllr Jayes suggested Swale council should seek to take over KCC’s land, citing vacant possession. Offices said they would look at the legal issues.
A council car park next to the Neptune cafe at Shellness near Leysdown is also protected by height barriers.
* Where would you put a coach park on Sheppey? Email your suggestions here.