Efficient, convenient and affordable ways of crossing the Solent are key to the success of the Island's economy. This issue affects all Islanders, sometimes in ways that are not obvious - for instance our schools have trouble recruiting talented teachers from off the Island. Our economy is so much more fragile than that of other areas in the South East because of our separation from the mainland by the Solent. Andrew is working with others to improve ferry services.
In 2009 Andrew spearheaded a campaign to get the Cross Solent ferries investigated by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), with the support of over 8,000 Islanders. One issue was the very high debt the companies have due to the high prices paid by the current ownerst. The OFT found problems in the market, but not enough evidence of harm for them to act. However some improvements followed, such as half price travel for hospital visits. There is now more evidence available - and it remains an option to go back to the OFT.
Cross-Solent Ferry Services
A New Way Forward!
The two main ferry companies have very high levels of debt, so much so that Wightlink in particular is unable to serve the Island's needs properly. Services have been cut and prices increased recently with no consultation with their customers - that wouldn't happen in a properly competitive market. Andrew has worked with others to put together plans for a Community Interest Company which could re-finance the company and run it for the benefit of the Island and Islanders. He will be campaigning over the coming months to try to bring about change. Red Funnel renegotiated their debt in 2009 and reduced it by over £40m - so it can be done. It will not be easy - it never is when there is big money involved - but it is well worth the fight. You can find out more about the campaign and sign up to support it here http://www.betterferrycampaign.co.uk/