BOSSES of a ferry service that has been branded a financial ‘problem child’ have vowed to drive up passenger numbers after its licence was renewed for another two years.
Langstone Harbour Board today voted to renew the Hayling Ferry’s licence at a reduced rate in the hope it could go on to thrive.
Owners of the service, which cuts out a 15-mile drive between Eastney and Hayling Island, will pay the board 15p per passenger, per crossing for the first 50,000 people it carries.
This number, which formerly stood at 50p, will then rise to 30p after that total is exceeded.
Hayling Ferry skipper Colin Hill hopes the move can be a springboard for better future turnover.
‘I’m going to do all I can to get passenger numbers up to a level where Langstone Harbour Board are happy, we are happy and the owners are happy – that’s my ultimate goal,’ he said.
‘Our passengers are increasing month on month – there’s only been one or two where that isn’t the case – and this decision gives us a chance, rather than us treading water.’
Members branded the renewal a ‘compromise’ after voting against a three-year deal suggested by its owners at the same meeting.
But the Hampshire County Council representative for Hayling Island, Lance Quantrill, voted against both options – branding the service a ‘problem child’ for its ailing balance sheet.
It came after the board heard the harbour’s Eastney pontoon would need to undergo £50,000 worth of maintenance in the next year if it was to continue serving the ferry.
‘[Stakeholders] are going to go sailing past the Eastney pontoon having spent £50,000 on it, and it’ll be their money sunk in a pontoon which the Hayling Ferry could not use in an instant if it decides to go bust,’ he said.
On the ferry’s future he added: ‘It’s struggled on for two years, maybe it’ll struggle on for another two years as well.’
Portsmouth councillor Graham Heaney, who tabled the vote that eventually passed, said the ferry could soon be boosted by long-term eco targets.
‘Over the next couple of years there will be changes to the way we get to work and it could be that there’s extra passengers generated as a result,’ he said.