Council responds to petition calling for new floating bridge

The Isle of Wight Council has responded to a petition calling for them to buy a new floating bridge.

Councillor Ian Ward, cabinet member for transport and infrastructure, said: “To suggest this council can go out and buy a new floating bridge is simply not practical and the petition calling for it to happen is frankly misleading and doesn’t address the reality of the situation.

“If the council stops using this floating bridge and decides to buy a new one, it will have to pay back £3.7 million to the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership who part-funded the vessel with no guarantee that we could sell the existing one.

“To design, procure, build and test a new floating bridge would cost around £5 million which is around half the usual £10 million capital budget of this council. This would impact on council capital spending across the Island including the school refurbishment programme and the building of affordable homes.

Seaclear pushing against the floating bridge to help it to land – photo by Noel Turner-Brooks

“The council will lose the revenue it gets from operating the floating bridge, which helps pay for much needed services now and into the future.

“The people of Cowes would be left without any floating bridge service for two years or more. This would lead to economic harm to both East and West Cowes and the staff who operate the floating bridge would have to be laid off.

“This present administration had just come into power when the new floating bridge entered service. We had no say or oversight in its design, which was decided upon by the previous administration.

“We continue to work towards finding solutions to make sure the vessel can operate in all tide conditions and good progress is being made to achieve this. We have already addressed noise issues.

“We dispute that the floating bridge is not a reliable service although we have always recognised it must be better. In September it operated at 89.5% of its scheduled hours and in October it was 79.4%. In previous months the percentage has been even higher at above 90%.”

The council previously said on Monday morning (November 12) that they would not be commenting on the petition.

You can sign the petition here: