Ferry companies called to account by Island MP Bob Seely

After weeks of troubled cross-Solent services served up by the ferry companies, Island MP Bob Seely has sent a letter to the chiefs of Wightlink, Red Funnel and Hovertravel demanding they provide answers to their customers.

Mr Seely today requested the three chief executives – Keith Greenfield of Wightlink; Fran Collins of Red Funnel and Keith Chapman of Hovertravel – explained to Islanders their respective performances since the summer.

In his letter, dated October 29, he wrote: “In particular I would like to ask whether you consider the current levels of technical or mechanical faults are acceptable and what, if any, steps you intend to take to ensure that your companies manage to run the service you advertise.

“In addition, there are some specific issues. Regarding Wightlink, may I ask 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, and what effect might this has had on passengers in case of accidents?

Wightlink: issues

“For Red Funnel, there is concern that accidents are now more common in the Medina. Is this the case and if so, why? For Hovertravel, when can you give clearer information regarding issues with one of your craft?”

Mr Seely’s intervention comes on the back of a nightmare October when the Red Falcon ran aground entering Cowes on Sunday, September 21 – just a month after an accident involving the Red Eagle.

Wightlink has had certification issues with the St Clare and technical issues with Victoria of Wight while reliability problems have dogged Hovertravel’s two-year-old craft Solent Flyer and Island Flyer.

Hovertravel craft

Mr Seeley appended a list of more than 40 incidents since late August involving issues with the three companies’ craft and added:

“Can you understand the frustration of Islanders at the current state of affairs? I look forward to your comments.”