A DISABLED woman left isolated by the closure of the Hayling Ferry has made a passionate plea for its return.
Ann Jones spoke out after Portsmouth Tory traffic leader Ken Ellcome said ‘very few’ people used the service and public money should not be looked at to subsidise at.
But Mrs Jones said the service was a lifeline to her and many other people.
She said: ‘I live alone on Hayling and I am isolated because I am deaf. You will understand how vital each of my social contacts are – I don’t have many.
‘My most loyal and supportive friend is younger and she rides a bike.
‘Our brilliant times together were meeting up when she came on the ferry from Eastney and we walked miles and had tea and put the world to rights.
‘I miss her. It’s too time consuming for her to ride all the way round by road and I seldom see her now.’
And Mrs Jones added: ‘How many others have similar stories of loss now we have no ferry? Should we all end up at the doctors asking for antidepressants?
‘The ferry is also loaded with memories of summer holidays with the children and exploring new places and experiencing an alternative to boring public transport.
‘The camaraderie was wonderful, strangers chatted, bike riders palled up.
‘What do we as users need to do now? The ferry is a treasure too precious to lose.’
The debate over whether the ferry should – and could – be reinstated is heating up.
Current owners of the boat Tim Trayte and Dave Baker are putting forward their business plan at a meeting later this month.
Cllr Ellcome says it would be down to Langstone Harbour Board to dip into its coffers to get it going.
John Perry, a Ukip councillor for Hayling, is in no doubt it should return, but with open-book accounting after the last operator went bust.
He said: ‘Having used the ferry myself to cycle to Gunwharf and the Southsea shopping centres, I miss it and I am sure many others do who now have to drive a polluting 25-mile round trip instead to get to Gunwharf.’
Cllr Perry added: ‘I believe the ferry is needed to economically and ecologically transport schoolchildren to the Portsea Island schools and provide sustainable transport between Hayling Island and Southsea.’
The meeting takes place at midday on Saturday, January 23 at The Royal Shades pub, at 29 Seafront, Hayling.