Isle of Wight MP, Bob Seely, has this week written to top bosses at Wightlink, Hovertravel and Red Funnel demanding answers over the recent cross-Solent travel disruption and to express the concerns of thousands of Islanders.
Island Echo highlighted the significant disruption experienced over the past 8 weeks through the publication of a timeline of events last Thursday. The comprehensive list of travel woes has now been forwarded directly to the ferry companies as part of Mr Seely’s letter addressing the on-going situation.
“Since August, cross-Solent services have been badly affected by a mix of technical and mechanical faults, legal issues and accidents”, Mr Seely has reminded Keith Greenfield (Wightlink), Neil Chapman (Hovertravel) and Fran Collins (Red Funnel).
The Island’s MP is asking each ferry company to explain – to Islanders – their respective performances since the summer and whether they consider the current levels of technical or mechanical faults acceptable. He is also asking what steps, if any, they intend to take to ensure they manage to run the services advertised.
Mr Seely has gone one step further to seek answers on specific issues. Keith Greenfield, Chief Executive of Wightlink, has been directly asked if it is a legal requirement for the vessel ‘St Clare’ to have valid, in-date certification and on what date and time did the certification of St Clare expire. This follows on from Island Echo’s exposé that Wightlink’s Fishbourne ferry was pulled from service for having no class or air pollution certification.
Mr Greenfield has also been asked what effect might this have had on passengers in case of accidents – he has previously failed to provide Island Echo with answers to all 3 questions.
In regards to Red Funnel, Mr Seely states there is concern that accidents are now more common in the Medina and asks Fran Collins if this is the case and, if so, why?
Neil Chapman, Managing Director of Hovertravel, has been asked when he can give clearer information regarding issues with one of the company’s craft. This is in relation to Solent Flyer, which has remained out of service for nearly 6 weeks. An update was due on Thursday last week but failed to materialise.
Mr Seely has made it clear to each ferry operator that Islanders are concerned by their ability to get people and vehicles to and from the Island without delays or cancellations.
In his letter, Bob has gone on to say:
“I should not need to state the need for a reliable service for Islanders, regardless of whether they are going to the mainland for medical, business or other reasons. An unreliable service damages the Island and harms Islanders. Delays also have knock-on effects for those using other forms of public transport”.
“This letter does not cast doubt on the efforts of those who work for you, and indeed it is wrong when they are verbally abused or criticised simply because they are the public face of your companies.
“However, can you understand the frustration of Islanders at the current state of affairs?”
The responses received from each operator will be made public.
A copy of Bob’s letter can be downloaded here.