A CAMPAIGN has been launched by a group of businessmen in a bid to take over the Wightlink ferry service which operates between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.
The Better Ferry Campaign has been set up by group of business-led islanders made up of Patrick Seely, Nicholas Finney, Andrew Palmer and John Buckland with support from the island’s member of parliament, who want to establish a community interest company.
A community interest company is a limited company operating for the benefit of the community. The group says the business would be acquired from the existing banks and ferry owners with the aim of refocusing the business on its customers.
Over time, that would mean increasing service levels while the cost of crossing the Solent is reduced.
Andrew Palmer of The Priory Bay Hotel said: ‘People need to realise that it needs to be easy to get to the island, easy to book and people need to understand what it is costing them.’
On its website, the group says it is ‘passionate about championing a fairer and more flexible ferry service for the Isle of Wight, that actually serves the island community’.
It continues: ‘That’s why we’re on a dedicated mission to stop the continuing ferry service cuts and price rises.’
Andrew Turner, the island’s MP, said he will be campaigning for a change over the coming months.
He said: ‘The two main ferry companies have very high levels of debt, so much so that Wightlink in particular is unable to serve the island’s needs properly.
‘Services have been cut and prices increased recently with no consultation with their customers - that wouldn’t happen in a properly competitive market. Andrew has worked with others to put together plans for a community interest company which could refinance the company and run it for the benefit of the island and islanders.’