Wightlink User Group News

Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely has spoken about the high cost of cross-Solent ferries during a parliamentary debate on Isle of Wight Local Government Finance.

This article first appeared in the Island Echo here –

He told Local Government Minister, Simon Hoare MP, that the Island has some of the most expensive ferries on earth and the impact fares have on the cost of providing council and other services on the Island.

Mr Seely said on Thursday:

“We have had lots of good ideas about what to do about them, but we have never had a shared manifesto that the MP and the council can agree on.

“The Island’s council has no powers over the ferries, despite being the transport authority, and as far as I can see it has never taken a policy position. We have the Transport Infrastructure Board, under the great leadership of Christopher Garnett, but the ferry firms’ participation is voluntary, and I think that is wrong”.

Bob went on to suggest how the government could help…

“I understand that soon the ferries will start to have discussions about grants and government support to move to net zero. At that point, when public money is being spent, there should be a quid pro quo, such as a public service obligation of some kind.

“I am also moving towards the idea of a Solent ferry regulator, which would have the legal power to sign off on timetables, debt levels, changes to ownership and other issues related to the ferries. The council should also have a seat on both the Wightlink and Red Funnel boards.”

Mr Seely said he would develop these ideas further in the New Year.

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