Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely has written to the 3 ferry companies to request that they now begin communicating with each other to put resilience plans in place.
In his letter Mr Seely said he had spoken with Transport Minister, Kelly Tolhurst MP. He said:
“It is my understanding that during the conversation yesterday, all cross-Solent ferry providers were cleared by government to talk to each other for the purposes of resilience planning during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
“As such, may I request that you now begin communicating with each other – and by all means with the Transport Infrastructure Board – to begin putting plans in place”.
Mr Seely said the primary purpose of any resilience planning was to ensure that should staff sickness rise as a result of COVID-19, vital life-line crossings will continue.
“This is about ensuring resilience and safety in the system.
“The ferries need to keep going to ensure essential travel can continue. We need to make sure Island patients can access the urgent medical treatment they need on the mainland, we need to allow our key workers to cross the Solent and we must ensure the continuous delivery of food stocks both to and from the Island.
“I hope that these plans won’t be used but we need to be ready to protect Islanders in case there are outbreaks of this illness between ferry staff.”
It’s understood that a Statutory Instrument (SI) – delegated legislation – is being written by government and will be retroactive when implemented, granting full legal permission for talks between ferry providers while preserving legal niceties where required with respect to current competition law.