He said he was impressed by the cross-Solent ferry company and recognised the importance of Wightlink to the economy of both Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight. The Minister, accompanied by Portsmouth City Council leader Councillor Donna Jones and Flick Drummond, Conservative candidate for Portsmouth South, also visited the new Greggs shop at Gunwharf which has created 10 jobs.
Mr Hancock said:
“This is a vital crossing with almost 50,000 sailings a year to and from the Isle of Wight, it’s an enormous number. Connectivity is so important for people who live on the Island but it’s also important for the mainland”.
Chief Executive Russell Kew said:
“We were pleased to show the Minister and his colleagues over our operations this morning. Although his title is the Minister for Portsmouth, Mr Hancock acknowledged the importance of our lifeline services for the economy of the Isle of Wight and the value of its contribution to investment on both sides of the Solent.”
In discussions, Wightlink also raised the subject of the proposed Marine Conservation Zones on the north coast of the Isle of Wight and its concerns that new restrictions on the navigation channels may hinder future development and investment in new ships.
Mr Hancock commented:
“Making sure that we conserve our marine heritage is vitally important but it’s got to be done in a way that allows for people to enjoy it and move around as well, there’s a balance that has to be struck”.