Example letter to media outlets

WightLink User Group

Dear Ms Toynbee

We hope you are keeping well?  We are members of the Wightlink Users Group on the Isle of Wight, a place we know that you are very familiar with and have written about in The Guardian.  

Our grassroots group started in November 2022, it now has over 1500 invested and proactive members on facebook and our website, www.wug.org.uk.

Our major concerns include the extortionate cost of ferries, access for NHS patients and regular year round services.  
As you know, the Isle of Wight is served by Wightlink, Redfunnel and the Hover.  However, our focus is on Wightlink, as this particular company has constrained our freedoms to the greatest extent.

If I can give you one example of the difficulties:
Foot passenger services, in particular, have been problematic.  Unlike the other providers, who reinstated their services in June 2021, Wightlink are only now reinstating the full services on the Fastcat, which was withdrawn due tot the pandemic. This has left foot travellers with no choice but to travel on the car ferry.  Due to its distance from the Island passenger terminal and lack of public transport between them this can add up to 4 hours to a daily commute.  Passengers have been stranded and have to walk 3.5 miles along the main road, at night.  Whilst this has now been resolved for the summer season, as the Fastcat service will operate again hourly through the day, with two more sailings into the evening, we are concerned that the reduced timetable will return later in the year.  We believe these reduced services were maintained to optimise income.  

ightlink have given 50m to their shareholders in a four year period, at the expense, safety, convenience and well being of its customers.

We know that these constraints and costs imposed upon everyday travel between the Island and Hampshire are having a corrosive effect on ambition and opportunity, especially among this those on low incomes, you people commuting for education, training, and work, as well as those who have to rely on mainland health support.  It is explicitly a matter of public policy, as children’s services, schools management, NHS primary care, and combined economic strategy through the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership.  Cross Solent travel is not just a matter of ensuring we retain a viable tourism industry or protecting networks of family and friends.  Therefore, accessible, equitable, affordable and reliable transport between the Isle of Wight and Hampshire is essential to quality of life and economic growth.

We believe that the services should be regulated by legislation because the current commercially constrained services does not promote or protect the island’s community or economy.

We are petitioning our island MP, members of the DfT, the shadow cabinet and other invested maritime partners.  However, the current feeling from the government is that solutions should be found locally, however, it is unclear to us how local resolution can happen, not least because Wightlink is reluctant to communicate with its customers, and notably, stakeholder groups.  Our MP considers that a minimum service agreement should be reached (to prohibit strikes); we feel this entirely misses the point and is absolutely not something we are in support of. We feel a Public Service Obligation is vital, urgent and would effectively help us to grow a community that has greater than national average unemployment rates, wide spread poverty, low academic achievement and uncertain future productivity rates which are being strangled by our transport links.
Many of our group have followed and admired your work; a number of us being long standing, ardent readers of The Guardian, and feel sure that this subject will be truly understood.  We would very much like to discuss this further and would welcome a conversation, if you have time?

We sincerely thank you for your attentions

Best wishes

Wightlink User Group (WUG)

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