CAMPAIGNERS and representatives of the Hayling Ferry are meeting councillors over fears the service could close.
Skipper Colin Hill and others will be holding talks with Havant Borough Council and Hampshire County Council tomorrow on the future of the ferry.
This ferry is vital for Hayling. We have people wanting to use it but complaining about the lack of transport links.Colin Hill
It comes as the service struggles to make money during winter, with better transport links and reduced fees seen as vital for the survival of the service.
Colin is calling for immediate action, without which the ferry could close.
He said: ‘The Hayling Ferry struggles through the winter months and is not making enough money to be sustainable for the whole year.
‘We are looking at ways to increase our passenger numbers, for example having bus links.
‘Councillors, before the ferry was reinstated, were all for helping but we don’t seem to have got any help at all from anyone.
‘We understand we have to look at ways to reduce the costs of running the ferry but we are looking for some help too.
‘Hampshire County Council helps with the running of the Hythe Ferry. When we meet with the councils tomorrow, I will be asking for a similar thing.’
Mr Hill said better bus links to the ferry would encourage more people to use it.
On the Hayling Island side, there is a one-and-a-half mile walk to the nearest bus stop and in Portsmouth, the distance is around half a mile.
Mr Hill added: ‘This ferry is vital for Hayling. We have people wanting to use it but complaining about the lack of transport links.
‘If there is an accident on the bridge leading off the island or on the A27, sometimes the ferry is the only way off Hayling.
‘People don’t realise how vital the service is.’
Local campaigner Mark Coates said for too long councillors had dragged their heels in offering to help.
‘Ever since the ferry was welcomed back by celebrities and the public on national television 18 months ago, our Conservative MP and Havant and Hampshire councils have dragged their feet on the issue of transport,’ he said.
‘Thousands were left at Ferry Point without transport or even a pedestrian walkway in the middle of the night during the most recent Victorious Festival.
‘Despite that dangerous embarrassment, our representatives, who recognised the brilliant service the Hayling Ferry provides in their local business awards this year, seem loath to offer passengers any practical support whatsoever.
‘Without transport links the ferry service will die. It’s that simple.’