FERRY operators have received a massive boost after a vote was passed to give their service a financial break.
The firm behind the Hayling Ferry, Baker Trayte Marine, will enjoy a year of approximately halved pontoon fees thanks to a decision made by the Langstone Harbour Board (LHB) yesterday.
It is hoped the move will increase the transport link’s chances of future viability and comes just a day after a deal was struck to provide buses to the service’s landings in a six-month trial, starting on September 24.
Hayling Ferry skipper Colin Hill has long been open about the strain put on the service by LHB fees, particularly during winter months – which have historically seen it take lower footfall.
But yesterday’s result signified back-to-back victories in just days for his team, who have been in sustainability talks with Havant and Portsmouth councillors since January.
‘This will help us an awful lot,’ Colin said.
‘Anything that helps secure the ferry's future for everyone is good.’
As previously reported, the ferry paid out in the region of £23,000 to the LHB over the last full tax year, to use its two landing grounds at Hayling Island and Eastney.
Included in this was the ferry’s obligation to pay the board 50p per passenger it carried in either direction, with rates reduced after the first 20,000.
But the records will paint a much different picture soon – as Baker Trayte’s outgoings for the ferry now look set to plummet.
‘This makes a massive difference in how we view the long-term future of the ferry,’ said long-time Hayling Ferry campaigner, Mark Coates.
‘Historically, these fees have been the ferry’s ruination. But because of the LHB’s decision, the service’s future now looks like a probability, not a possibility.
‘Thanks must also go out to Hayling councillor Claire Satchwell, who has played a key role in getting to this point.’
Portsmouth councillor Matthew Winnington – a member of the 15-strong LHB – said: ‘The ferry is a much-needed local service, and part of our integrated transport system. This decision by the board will give it an important boost.’