In a letter to Wightlink’s Chief Executive, Keith Greenfield, Bob said he was keen to see the resumption of sailings on all regular cross-Solent routes – which includes the currently suspended Ryde to Portsmouth FastCats and the Yarmouth to Lymington car ferry service.
The Yarmouth service has not operated since 31st March and the Fastcat service stopped on 6th April. Local rumour has suggested that services will resume from 6th July, but this has not been confirmed.
“I am pleased that the cross-Solent ferry operators and the IW Transport Infrastructure Board have been able to work together to secure the vital lifeline services that we needed during lockdown. I thank all the ferry operators for working with me, and others, to keep Islanders safe as the pandemic reached its peak here.
“However, as we start to move out of lockdown, we now need the ferries to resume all of their routes and services to support commuters as they return to work, but also to support the visitor economy which we so desperately need to get up and running on the Island.
“I am pleased that Red Funnel’s Red Jet sailings have resumed, albeit on a limited service, and I urge Wightlink to follow suit with their remaining services. I know Wightlink has announced additional sailings on its Fishbourne to Portsmouth route recently which is a positive step. Now I would like to see them re-opening their other services as soon as possible.”
Bob said the Prime Minister’s recent announcement – which made provision for the majority of businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector to reopen – had kick-started many Island businesses in their preparations to reopen and welcome back visitors once more.
“I am working closely with the IW Council and Visit IOW in a coordinated approach to visitors returning which will see safety measures put in place to help to protect both residents and visitors.
“The Island needs to welcome visitors back to support local livelihoods and the ferries need to play their part in that.”
Long term, Bob has said he intends to liaise with the Isle of Wight Council and Government to work towards a more acceptable model of how cross-Solent services could be provided moving forward.