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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.

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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.”

The views/opinions expressed in these comments are solely those of the author and do not represent those of Island Echo. House rules on commenting must be followed at all times.
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Flog it to Red Funnell or Wightlink. They know how to turn a profit on a captive audience.


This will generate a few comments !


What’s that old saying? Oh yes, “buy cheap, pay twice”.


Am being polite when my only comment is shambles

Oh DoHoldTheFrontPage

That’s dreadful.
If that money hadn’t been so frivolously wasted on the floating bridge it could have gone to pay consultants to consult on, er, the floating bridge.
I do hoep the shortfall hasn’t affected the high wages of all those important councillors who have to talk about the bridge all day??


The original floating bridge was making a profit when it was pulled out of service and replaced . The comment comes to mind ” If it aint broke dont replace it ” Still the Council have the Rate Payers “Money Tree” to fall back on .


I was informed the old one wasn’t going to get it’s license again to sail, that it had come to the end if it’s life. Why are we not being told what was found in the full investigation?

Trouble is the info to councillors comes from council officers……


Build a real bridge


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salford_Quays_lift_bridge It says this cot $7.5M …. not too far off the current FB costs.Gets my vote…


And just why we, the council tax payer, have to prop up this defunct council?


Because the public voted them in… Perhaps at the next elections, people will vote all the idiots out…

Jerry Spencer

It’s good to know that all councils are run by the same numpties. Is there a college or university that people go to where they remove their brains and produce councillors? And if they’re really rubbish they become MPs. Do you think?


The trouble is, we only have idiots to vote for, no matter what party they are from or whether they are “independent”. Basically there is no point in voting as you will never get anyone who has the good of the island as their priority, only what is good for themselves…

Brian John Gapp

What a load of rubbish. Just get rid of it it’s not fit for purpose.


“an additional £110,760 has been spent on chain depth surveys”

couldn’t they have used a dingy, a stick & a B & Q tape measure ?

Common Sense

Rolled up trouser leg and funny handshakes spring to mind….and those brown envelopes again….

Denise c

Dont mind if i do .. as its come out of our tax .. work work work .. yes il have some of this money back dont you think wr should . disgrace!!

Concerned of Wootton

Is it too late to get a feasibility study done for a swing bridge across the Medina?
Wouldn’t be dependant on tides, and could operate 24/7
Timetabled to swing when a collection of boats with masts need to traverse up or down river, but set for road traffic normally.
Just a thought!


Get rid and build an underpass. Can operate 24/7 and won’t even be affected by boat traffic. Even if it was a single lane it could be controlled by traffic lights for vehicle traffic.

john Biddle

And the close Mental Health Day Centers because it cost £70.000 a year to run!! Stop all the expense claims given to Councilors and scrap the float bridge then re-open the Day Centres


What a joke. Somewhere someone’s head should roll.

none given

if the current rate of losses continues, then the annualised rate for 2019/20 will be a loss of £153,868.

2017/18 – loss of £547,991
2018/19 – loss of £301,293 – improvement of £246,698 on previous year
2019/20 – estimated loss of £153,868 – improvement of £147,425 on previous year.

Should be at the point of breaking even or just making a profit in 2021/2022, then equaling the profit made by the old FB around 2024 or 2025

Unless of course they manage to cure its issues and the forward costs will be reduced, as the remedial work costs will disappear, then profitability will be sooner.

we will see!!


This chain ferry was not designed for cowes. This is why it does not fit.

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