Government: ‘No plans to regulate ferry prices’

“There no plans to regulate ferry prices in England,” the government has said. 

This the Department for Transport’s (DfT) response in short to the ferry fares petition on Wednesday (September 12).

The petition has over 17,000 signatures and needed to reach a 100,000 to be considered for debate in parliament.

The DfT wrote: “Ferry companies in the UK operate in a competitive, commercial market, with the operators competing on price, quality, frequency and speed of their services. In locations such as the Isle of Wight there is a provision of frequent crossings, from a selection of locations, and at a range of prices.

“At present such provision does not indicate evidence of a market failure or other reasons that may justify government regulatory intervention. As such the government has no plans to regulate ferry prices. However, in circumstances where a commercially provided ferry link is at risk, government would consider options to maintain that link as a lifeline service.

“UK ships and ports operate on a private basis, without public sector support, so the ferry companies concerned are private sector entities. The cost of a service, its quality, and frequency are therefore a commercial decision for the ferry operator, and for the company concerned to determine the commercial viability of differing service and fare levels in their current operating environment.”

Screenshot of the petition

Deputy council leader, Councillor Stuart Hutchinson (West Wight) predicted this outcome from government recently.

The cabinet member for resources said: “It’s received over 16,000 signatures and has already crossed the threshold which guarantees a response from government.

“That response will be that the government has no proposals to bring in subsidy – which is really what the petition seeks to achieve.”

Vix Lowthion, Island Green Party candidate said: “It’s no surprise whatsoever that our Conservative MP Bob Seely’s government have swiftly rejected the call from 17,000 islanders to regulate the prices we are forced to pay for our ferry service.

“The Conservative Party believes that all transport services are best provided by commercial companies free of regulation – yet this policy has led to an effective monopoly here on the Isle of Wight. The statement from the government completely ignores the situation in Scotland which has a public body to regulate and subsidise routes for the communities they serve.

“Bob Seely will continue to fail to work for islanders on this issue because he and the party he represents do not believe in regulation, subsidies and state intervention. How much longer must we put up with his transparent spin and bluster on this vital issue of greater accessibility for island businesses and travellers? We need a different MP who really knows what it’s like for ordinary families to struggle to get across the Solent.”

You can read the full response and sign the petition here.