An independent review and legal mediation will determine the next step in the long battle to sort out the Isle of Wight’s troubled Floating Bridge 6.
It’s been confirmed that after the review and mediation a report will go before leading Isle of Wight Council cabinet members in January and the local authority will make its next move.
Speaking at the council’s cabinet meeting on Monday, Councillor Phil Jordan, the infrastructure and transport lead, said when the Alliance administration came into office in May, one of the things its members were committed to resolving was the Floating Bridge. “That is what we are doing”, he said.
Council Leader, Councillor Lora Peacey-Wilcox, said:
“It does seem after 22 weeks in, we are desperately pushing forward with this and there is a bit of light at the end of this very dark and very long tunnel.”
Cabinet noted the continuation of the legal process, with mediation not yet started, but council officers have been instructed to set a date for it to take place in December.
The council is taking legal action against the marine architects and boat builders who designed and created Floating Bridge. There have been continuous problems since it launched on the River Medina, between Cowes and East Cowes, and it has spent many weeks out of action.
Cabinet members were also asked to note a request from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (SLEP), which has questioned whether the chain ferry is fit for purpose, to commission an independent review into whether the vessel is meeting targets laid out in the business case.
The Isle of Wight Council will foot the bill for the investigation, which could be anywhere between £10,000 and £15,000. Cllr Jordan said it is expected to be completed by the end of November.
After the 2 items are concluded, a report will come before the cabinet laying out the next steps the authority could take — whether to continue to repair Floating Bridge 6 or get a new one.
Replacing the troubled vessel for a new one is an option the Alliance administration is seriously considering, unlike the previous Conservative leadership.
Councillor Karl Love, local East Cowes councillor, said he really appreciated the transparent communications from Cllr Jordan. He said:
“I am really confident this will be resolved and while we cannot divulge all the details, due to the legal matters, for the first time in a long time I feel really positive that something will happen.”
Currently, the Floating Bridge 6 is out of action because of major faults found in the drive motor. No date has been set as to when it will return, but the most recent work saw one of the ramps removed and shipped to Southampton, so contractors can work on it there.
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