A CAMPAIGN to slash ferry fares and safeguard vital commuter services could be launched by the Isle of Wight Council next week.
Amid mounting public concern, council leader Cllr David Pugh has tabled a motion for next week’s full council meeting, committing the authority to achieving improvements in the affordability and frequency of cross-Solent services, particularly early morning and late night crossings.
The motion, published today (Tuesday), also calls on the government to recognise that ferry services should be treated as vital infrastructure routes with a similar strategic status to bus and train networks, which receive financial support.
The council hopes to join forces with the Isles of Scilly which faces similar challenges with the frequency and affordability of ferry services.
Cllr Pugh’s motion aims to explore with the government how the operational costs associated with running these ferry services could be cut and stabilised, possibly involving a bulk and forward buying element for fuel.
It also seeks a firm commitment from ferry operators that financial benefits would be passed on to customers.
Councillors will debate the motion at their meeting on Wednesday, January 16.
It follows a meeting last week, organised by unions, where changes to Wightlink services were heavily criticised.
In a letter to the County Press last month Cllr Pugh raised the possibility of an Island group being formed to have a stake in cross-Solent ferry travel.
The letter said: "We need solutions based in the current realities. In particular, the Isle of Wight Council wishes to see a local, Island-based stake in one or both of the main routes, should the opportunity arise. This is something we are beginning to explore.
"We are setting up a group, intended to draw on local commercial experience, to consider options to respond positively to such an opportunity. More detail will follow in the new year."