A PLEA from Isle of Wight MP Andrew Turner for public service obligations to be put in place on cross-Solent travel providers has been rejected by a government minister.
During a debate yesterday (Thursday), parliamentary under-secretary for transport Stephen Hammond told Mr Turner there was no case to introduce such measures at this stage.
Under European Union law, public service obligations allow subsidies to be paid to companies providing an agreed level of service on unprofitable routes.
Last week, Mr Turner called for a fresh Office of Fair Trading investigation of ferry travel after the latest changes to the Wightlink timetable.
Mr Turner said yesterday (Thursday) said: "The Island’s ferries provide lifeline services and the repeated cuts damage our quality of life.
"Wightlink has enormous debts, which are paid for out of the Island’s economy.
"I plead with my honourable friends to enter into dialogue to consider how public service obligations can be introduced so that we have the certainty to build our economy and create more jobs."
Mr Hammond responded: "My honourable friend will remember that I met him and a delegation from the Island earlier in the year.
"I promised then to meet Wightlink, and have done so. There are more than 200 sailings to and from the Island each day, so there is no apparent market failure.
"I hear my honourable friend’s plea to put public service obligations in place and we will continue to keep them under review, but at the moment there is no case to do so."
Earlier in the debate he said: "This is a competitive market, and it is for the ferry operators to decide the level of fares and services
based on market conditions."
Mr Turner told the County Press: "When the Office of Fair Trading investigated the cross-Solent ferry market in 2009, they expressed concerns that there were factors of the market that adversely affected proper competition.
"I was disappointed the minister’s civil servants had clearly not briefed him on properly that. I will be writing to him to follow this up."