Plan to axe ferries will isolate Island, MP warns

By a County Press reporter

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

 

SERVICE cuts by ferry company Wightlink have prompted Isle of Wight MP Andrew Turner to seek a meeting with Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Vince Cable.

Wightlink boss Russel Kew said last week that redundancies and cuts to late night services were necessary due to financial pressures.

In a statement on his website Mr Turner said today (Tuesday): "We have been constantly told fares are high because they subsidise loss-making, overnight services.

"Well surprise, surprise! Wightlink has not announced fare cuts to compensate for the loss of those services.

"Islanders need ferries to access hospital and other health services, work and business opportunities and education, as well as to keep in touch with family and friends; the public are absolutely right to be concerned.

"These changes will end the possibility of an evening out on the mainland and make the Island even more isolated."

Mr Turner said he hoped to raise the issue in the House of Commons.

It is not the first time Mr Turner has challenged the ferry companies, having led a campaign in 2009 calling for the Office of Fair Trading to investigate the issue of cross-Solent travel.

Mr Turner said: "The ferries are private companies and can change their prices or services at will, with no consultation or consideration of the economic or social impact on the Island and Islanders.

"That is why I want to talk to the Secretary of State about the wider issues. I have also written to various organisations asking for their views and would especially welcome hearing from Island businesses with details of what these changes mean for them."

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