24th August 2015
I am writing regarding the Hayling Island Ferry and to update you on the situation.
I have taken the time to look into this matter further, engaging with some of Hayling’s local Havant Borough Council (HBC) councillors and its Hampshire County Council (HCC) councillor. HCC is the transport authority for all of Hampshire, including Hayling Island.
The Hayling Island Ferry was a privately-owned and operated business, and has been fortunate over the years to receive taxpayer-funded subsidies from both Portsmouth City Council (PCC) and HCC. The Ferry did not receive a subsidy from HBC. PCC’s subsidy ended some years ago, and as you know, HCC have recently decided, disappointingly, to cease their subsidy too, largely on the grounds that their research shows the service was only being used by around 100 people per day on average. The decision-maker at HCC was Councillor Sean Woodward, Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment. Despite the Ferry’s closure, alternative modes of transport exist for those who wish to travel to Portsmouth, including mini-buses for children who attend schools in Portsmouth, as well as local bus services.
My view, which is shared by the HBC and HCC councillors I have consulted, as well as many residents, is that the only financial arrangement which allows a Hayling-Portsmouth ferry service to operate on a sustainable and long-term basis is one which involves a private operator, is widely-used by the public, and which generates sufficient income to operate without long-term tax-payer subsidies.
Hayling Councillor Andy Lenaghan has written on this very topic in the September 2015 issue of the Hayling Islander where he notes that, “we hope that if a suitable operator with a sound business plan comes along and can produce a greater volume of passengers, Hampshire County Council will reconsider the grant if needed, especially in the formative years to get the business up and running.” I fully support Councillor Lenaghan’s position and welcome any private operator that feels they are able to provide a sustainable and compelling business plan to the Maritime and Coastguard Authority (MCA) whose permission would be required for such a service to operate from Hayling.
I am in touch with the Minster for Coastal Communities, and if any government funding is available to support services such as the Hayling Ferry, I shall make this known to any potential new private operator who contacts me, as well as HBC and HCC. Havant Borough Council has recently been awarded £10,000 in start-up funding to launch a Coastal Communities Team, which will work with local residents to drive forward economic regeneration for the benefit of the entire community, but this is not funding designed to subsidise a privately-owned ferry service.
By way of update, I understand that a number of private operators are interested in operating a ferry service between Hayling and Portsmouth on a commercial basis, including a businessman with an interest in providing a service capable of carrying vehicles. Our local councillors are engaging with interested parties as they make themselves known, and I will certainly do all I can to support any private operator that comes forward with a viable plan to run the ferry on a sustainable, commercial basis.
ALAN MAK MP
|Alan Mak MP - Letter to Havant Constituents - Hayling Island Ferry Update - 24 Aug 2015||374.23 KB|