Transport secretary Grant Shapps gives 48 hours to find solution to help Gosport Ferry

GV of Gosport Ferry on Wednesday 6 May 2020.

Pictured:  View inside Gosport Ferry.

Picture: Habibur RahmanGV of Gosport Ferry on Wednesday 6 May 2020.

Pictured:  View inside Gosport Ferry.

Picture: Habibur Rahman
GV of Gosport Ferry on Wednesday 6 May 2020. Pictured: View inside Gosport Ferry. Picture: Habibur Rahman | JPIMedia
COUNCIL bosses and a business owner have been told they have 48 hours to find a solution to support a ferry service.

In a meeting today, leaders from Hampshire County Council, Gosport Borough Council and Portsmouth City Council joined Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage in a video-conference call with the transport secretary, Grant Shapps.

They discussed the urgent financial situation of the Gosport Ferry, which has seen a 90 per cent drop in passengers amid the coronavirus outbreak.

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Mr Shapps told Department for Transport officials they have 48 hours to work with local authority leaders and Gosport Ferry owners to pull together a package of support.

Ms Dinenage said: ‘Gosport Ferry is a lifeline to people in our area, that’s why I have been working with ferry bosses, government colleagues and local authorities for many weeks now to find an urgent package of support during the current challenges.

‘I welcome the fast timeframe set out by the Secretary of State and his determination to work towards a co-ordinated response to help this vital and much-loved service.’

Gosport Ferry has furloughed 16 of its 36 staff and has seen a 90 per cent decrease in people using it to cross Portsmouth Harbour during the pandemic.

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Councils have deferred a £42,000 monthly charge during the crisis but the company has around £150,000 worth of bills to pay each month.

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Portsmouth City Council leader, councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson wants councils, the company and the government to each put a third of the total funding into the firm.

He said: 'Usage for the ferry has gone from 7,000 users a day to 600. They've reduced it from two services to one boat.

'They're still losing a lot of money - between £160,000-£170,000 a month.

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'Hampshire, Gosport and Portsmouth councils are all prepared to put some money in but we are expecting the company to put some money in because it's a profitable company and the parent company is. We're also expecting central government to put some in.

'If we can do a three-way deal to keep it going that would be really good.'

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