GOSPORT’S ferry company has come under fire for increasing ticket prices despite awarding its directors a huge pay rise.
From next Friday, the cost of an adult return fare for a hop across Portsmouth Harbour will rise by 10p and 10-trip tickets will go up by 50p.
But The News can reveal last year Gosport Ferry Limited boosted its directors’ salaries from £66,000 to £104,000.
It comes less than a year after a steep rise in ferry ticket costs following the installation of the new ferry pontoon.
The deputy leader of Gosport Borough Council, Councillor Graham Burgess, said: ‘In these austere times, as they are the mainstay of traffic across the harbour, I find it reprehensible that the directors’ salaries have increased by over 20 per cent.
‘This is before last year’s significant increase in fares.
‘I would have thought that a 10p increase could be easily absorbed by the company considering their profits.’
According to the latest financial statements filed to Companies House, Gosport Ferry Limited had around £1m in reserves at the end of March 2011 and made £406,000 profit in that financial year.
The four per cent fare increase means an adult return fare will rise from £2.70 to £2.80 and there will be an increase in the cost of a passenger 10-trip ticket from £12.50 to £13.
There will be no change to fares for senior citizens or children.
The company has also held the daily costs for taking bikes and motorbikes on board but 10-trip tickets for these will rise by 10p.
Quarterly season tickets for adults will increase by £5 to £150.
The Gosport Ferry company says the rise is necessary due to a significant increase in the price of diesel.
General manager, Keith Edwards, refused to comment on directors’ salaries.
He said: ‘Our operating costs are increasing, passenger numbers are falling and the recession is reducing the number of people who are travelling with us.
‘We’re a business and we’re operating as a business.
‘Last year we unfortunately had to put the prices up fairly significantly with the new pontoon and the costs to the company that brought about and operating costs are continuing to rise.
‘The price of diesel has gone up significantly in the last 12 months and has had a major effect on our operating costs.
‘Our reliability rate is 99.9 per cent and we are very keen to maintain that.
‘We would not like to cut corners and have the service be any less reliable than it is now.’