A FERRY service fighting for a sustainable future will soon be boosted by long-awaited supporting transport links.
It comes after Havant councillors last night voted in favour of a community bus trial worth up to £20,000 for the Hayling Ferry – following a recommendation put forward by deputy leader Cllr Tim Pike.
Since its revival in 2016, the service has struggled to make a profit – not helped by the fact it has no public transport links to its landings on the Island and at Eastney.
But its loyal users – and hopefully many new ones – will soon benefit from a community bus test-run down to Ferry Point, for which exact terms are expected to be finalised by Havant Borough Council’s executive director, James Hassett, ‘in a matter of weeks’.
In an exciting full council meeting for ferry-backers last night, Cllr Pike also revealed the trial would be bolstered by First buses in Portsmouth extending their number 15 service to serve the Eastney Landing area.
Cllr Pike said: ‘Both sides need to be addressed and there’s no point in running a trial service that doesn’t complete the link – I’m very pleased with the progress made tonight.’
Talks to keep the ferry service afloat long-term have been raging on since January, with its operators holding monthly meetings at the Ferryboat Inn, at west Hayling, with councillors from Havant, Portsmouth and Hampshire authorities.
They have come with setbacks – particularly when Stagecoach ruled out an extension of its service to Ferry Point in February.
But after last night’s result, Colin Hill, the ferry’s skipper, said: ‘It’s brilliant news – the circuit is beginning to look complete.’
Cash for the scheme, which could last between four and six months, will come from Havant Borough Council’s (HBC) Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) pot – after a previously agreed allocation was no longer required.
Introduced nationally in 2008, the CIL is a charge planners must pay to help local authorities build infrastructure to support their developments.
In HBC’s Local Plan for 2036, 1,500 homes were pencilled to be built on Hayling Island.