The Cowes Floating Bridge made a loss of £301,293 in the last financial year, new data from the Isle of Wight Council has revealed.
Despite bringing in a total income of £738,514, the troubled Floating Bridge No.6 cost the taxpayer £1,039,807 in 2018/19 resulting in a total loss of £301,293. That is a decrease from 2017/18 though when the East Cowes to Cowes service made a loss of a staggering £547,991. It is in stark contrast to 2015/16 when the old Floating Bridge No.5 made a profit of £120,452.
Things haven’t improved much in the first 5 months of 2019/20 with a £64,112 loss already recorded.
Over the past 11 months, the Isle of Wight Council has had to fork out just shy of £150,000 on the vessel MV Seaclear, which is used to push the floating bridge into position. In addition, the passenger launched used to shuttle people across the River Medina when the Floating Bridge is out of action has cost a further £181,189. The costs don’t stop there… an additional £110,760 has been spent on chain depth surveys.
In total, £441,064 of taxpayers money has been spent on additional running costs related to the Floating Bridge since May 2017, with that number increasing weekly. The cost of recent work on the prow at each end of the vessel is currently unknown.
UPDATE WEDNESDAY – A spokesperson for the Isle of Wight Council has said:
“All of the costs associated with the operation of floating bridge 6 are publicly available through the council’s website, which provides information from 2012 onwards, and have been reported previously. Any additional subsidy in recent years represents the council’s commitment to maintaining the link between East and West Cowes whilst it attempts to resolve challenges of the new vessel.
“The council has not hidden from these challenges and the costs incurred in fixing them. Both continue to be the subject of ongoing legal advice.
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“In the meantime the council will do it all that it can to support the service for the communities of East and West Cowes and is sure that the number of users will continues to rise as people start to recognise the service’s reliability and availability.
“In 2019 the floating bridge has carried an average of 34,000 foot passengers and 17,500 vehicles each month.”