Questions remain after ferries meeting

By Martin Neville

Friday, January 24, 2014


FERRY bosses attended the second of two specially convened public meetings to probe cross-Solent services last night (Thursday), but many key questions went unanswered.

The Cross-Solent Services Scrutiny Task Group was set up in the wake of concerns about the impact of service cuts and high ferry fares.

The panel was warned at the start of the meeting however, that operators could not discuss certain matters in an open forum, due to commercial sensitivity and competition law.

The meeting, held in front of a packed public gallery at County Hall, provided an opportunity for the heads of all three firms — Wightlink, Red Funnel and Hovertravel — to answer their critics and for councillors to scrutinise their services.

The meeting was attended by the chief executives of both Red Funnel and Wightlink, Kevin George and Russell Kew, as well as Hovertravel managing director Neil Chapman.

It meant many key questions around future timetable plans, pricing and ownership went unanswered or not asked at all.

However, each company submitted extensive written representations — published below — answering 15 questions set by the committee.

A report on the findings of the committee, which has also heard from commuters and businesses, is due to be published in April.

For more on this story, please see the Isle of Wight County Press, on Friday, January 31.

Isle of Wight Council Cross-Solent Services Scrutiny Task Group



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Displaying the last 10 of 18 comments - Show All Comments

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by Jack Woodford

25th January 2014, at 14:29:50

Having worked on the festival site for five of the last six years, I can tell you your info is not quite right.
The traffic management plans are always available - they are even advertised in the CP and other places.
The argument over the commercially sensitive stuff was about the event safety plan. John Giddings argued that was commercially sensitive as it was, in essence, a blueprint of how to run a festival and other event organisers would have loved to have got their hands on it. A fair enough argument in my opinion.
On your wider point - the competency of most councillors - I would have to agree with you tho although Geoff Lumley is not someone who is likely to roll over. Perhaps he saw this process for what it is: political opportunism.

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by Ashley Harcourt

25th January 2014, at 12:48:11

Dear me, “important questions” went unanswered did they??
This is a classic example of untrained local authority individuals pursuing a popular crusade which they know will grab them attention and hopefully votes. To have officials spout off about commercial issues in ignorance of the most basic knowledge of commercial law is a farce and such people should know that there are questions which cannot be asked in a public forum.
A very good example of this was the debacle of traffic management failure at the Isle of Wight Festival two years ago. - When the Council said that contingency plans had been put into place for future events and was asked what these were, it refused to reveal them due to ‘commercially sensitive information’, the very same reason used above. I think it is plain that the Council are far out of their depth with this matter of questioning cross solent operators, though no doubt have managed to secure yet another year of discounted fares for its staff on all operato

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by Dave Dawson

24th January 2014, at 23:24:46

@Julia. I was there last night and I was quite frankly appalled by the CEO of one ferry operator.

I can not remember him either running or being elected as an Isle of Wight Councillor and yet he acted as much.

While on the subject of the meeting I must make reference to the poor Chairmanship of one of the joint Chairs. He kept nodding in agreement and then went on to tell one of the operators that he thought their marketing needed to improve. Very odd behaviour for a Chairperson.

Politics were also at play when a Councillor was allowed to ask a loaded question about the DMO. Not healthy when considering matters as important as this.

The evening was entirely wasted as I detected an element of power play within one of the ferry providers. Someone wants the CEO' job.

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by Jack Woodford

24th January 2014, at 22:58:07

Hi Julia.
I wasn't but then I don't have a major problem with the ferries so they don't really need to justify their existence to me. I accept that a business that cannot afford to run at a loss cannot therefore run many services that very few people use. I agree that Steve Porter's reported comment says it very succinctly.
While we re in quizzical mode, may I fire one back at you? How many people does your user group represent?

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by Julia Bridgeman

24th January 2014, at 21:44:32

Fair enough

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by Den Young

24th January 2014, at 21:36:14

Julia, I wasn't, I knew it would be better to stay at home and watch the paint dry, at least there was some satisfaction after a couple of hours-- dry paint, which as we all know there wasn't and probably never will be at meetings with wightlink

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by Julia Bridgeman

24th January 2014, at 21:31:05

I'm interested to know who, out of those posting on this issue here and now, were at the council meeting last night and also who of you were there at the preliminary meeting in December. I was at both. Just curious.

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by alan naylor

24th January 2014, at 20:30:29

Its all as plain as the nose on your face When the enemy sees danger ie the coming of a possible takeover by the island people they are willing to jaw jaw jaw to avoid war war war Get out your plackards lads get in the news nation wide goverment might lisson then all the meeting will not amount to a hill of beans

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by Keven Ball

24th January 2014, at 16:14:48

All I can say is what was the point of the meeting if the important questions were not answered? Lets have a meeting about coffee prices, but we cannot talk about coffee or prices... okay... It looks to me as though the ferry companies are too scared to be honest and open to the people of the island.

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by Den Young

24th January 2014, at 15:35:48

did you really expect anything to come from this? you all should have stayed at home and watch some paint dry, nuff said

Any views or opinions presented in the comments above are solely those of the author and do not represent those of the Isle of Wight County Press.

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