A FERRY service could be back up and running in the coming weeks.
A community group, headed by a local businessman and a businessman from the Middle East is understood to be interested in running the Hayling ferry.
The link between Eastney and Hayling has been out of action for a month after the operating company went into administration.
But now there is a glimmer of hope it will once be again sailing across Langstone Harbour as the assets – including the 65-seater Pride of Hayling and the 12-seater Tina Marie – are offered for sale.
Hayling councillor Andy Lenaghan said he was ‘fairly confident’ the service would be back in action.
He said a philanthropist, who wants to remain anonymous until the bidding process has ended, has shown an interest in buying the boats.
Cllr Lenaghan said: ‘There’s definitely an interest from a community group.
‘He’s only a young man but he’s got the money to buy it.
‘He’s looking at reinstating it.’
Cllr Lenaghan said he was also contacted by a businessman in Qatar, who saw the story about the ferry’s demise on The News’ website.
He said: ‘He was looking for a ferry on Google and read about the ferry.
‘He telephoned me to make enquiries and said he would rather come in with a new boat.
‘He’s not going to try to outbid the ones that are going to bid for the current boat.’
It is understood the Hayling Ferry Ltd was in financial difficulties and was forced into administration by debts owed to boat engineering company Burgess Marine.
Around £107,000 is believed to be owed following a refit of the Pride of Hayling boat.
Only around £20,000 of the total cost was ever paid, it is understood.
Last year the family-run company was also fined more than £12,000 after admitting carrying more than twice the number of passengers the ferry was licensed to carry on four occasions.
Cllr Lenaghan said people on both sides of the harbour would be pleased to see the ferry back in service.
‘It’s important it’s reinstated,’ he said.
‘We have got to have alternative ways of getting off the island.
It eases the congestion and it’s of benefit to the tourism industry.’
Cllr Lenaghan said businesses at the south end of Hayling had reported a drop in trade since the ferry stopped running.