THE long-term future of the Hayling Ferry is looking more secure after an extra £25,000 a year is set to be thrown its way.
Hampshire County Council is set to agree to help pay to improve the pontoons that are used by more than 65,000 passengers every year as they get on and off the ferry.
The platforms, which are also used by local fishermen, need repairing and there were fears that unless work was carried out the ferry would be in jeopardy.
The question mark over the pontoon maintenance was the latest in a succession of threats to the service over the last decade.
Last year Portsmouth City Council threatened to stop subsidising the ferry, but councillors changed their mind at the 11th hour.
More than £51,000 is paid out each year to keep the ferry going, with two-thirds of that cash coming from the county council and the remainder from Portsmouth.
County leaders are set to agree next Tuesday to pay an additional £25,000 a year to cover pontoon repairs.
The Langstone Harbour Board, which owns the pontoons, estimated the cost of repairs would be more than £200,000 over several years.
Instead of paying out a lump sum, county leaders want to phase the payments.
As the pontoons are not a council asset, leaders will instead pay Hayling Ferry Ltd, which will in turn pay extra fees to the harbour board to cover the cost.
Jackie Branson, Havant councillor and chairwoman of the LHB, said: ‘It’s good news for the future of the board and the Hayling Ferry.
‘If we can’t maintain the pontoons, then the ferry will not be able to run any more and the service to the people would be lost.
‘It would mean more people have to use the roads to travel into Portsmouth.
‘It’s used by a lot of schoolchildren.’
Captain Nigel Jardine, the harbour master, said: ‘The future is dependent on the support of the authority which is the county council.
He said the ferry, which does 41 round trips a day during the summer and saves a 14-mile car journey, was vital.
He said: ‘If it was not there people would start to think how important it is.’
Frida Edwards, who owns Hayling Ferry Ltd, was not available for comment.
A report due to go before Cllr Mel Kendal, the county’s transport leader, said: ‘This report proposes phased annual payments to enable the landing stages to remain usable so that the ferry service can continue.’