No mention of ferries in 58-page transport report

A major new report issued by the body that “speaks with a single voice about strategic transport priorities for the south-east” and the Department for Transport has regard to when developing government policy, doesn’t even mention ferries.

Transport for the South East (TfSE) was established in 2017 and yesterday published its first ‘State of the Region’ report. While it covers ‘affordability of transport’ for both buses and rail and the Isle of Wight’s rental e-bike trial, there is no mention of the Island’s unique dependence on cross-Solent services in its 58 pages.

Labour’s Richard Quigley said: “What is clear, is that the cost of public transport has increased by more than the increase in disposable incomes. Until the introduction of the £2 bus fare, the cost of bus travel was increasing at an alarming rate.

“What the report doesn’t include is cross-Solent transport as this would no doubt have caused a computer meltdown when they input ferry prices.

“It also details the reduction in the number of start-up businesses since 2017, as well as the reduction in the total number of businesses in our region. It isn’t good news. It also begs the question, ‘What has our MP Bob Seely been doing for the Island since his election in 2017?’

“His only contribution seems to be finally realising that ferry fares are too high, which is too little, too late.

“I had a meeting with Louise Haigh, the Shadow Secretary for Transport and asked that cross-Solent Transport be included in the Labour transport strategy. Her first comment was: “It’s really expensive to get to the Isle of Wight” and agreed to what I asked.

“Labour has a plan for buses and rail and locally we have plan for cross-Solent transport, unfortunately the Conservative Party and Bob Seely MP don’t.”

Last Thursday Mr Seely spoke in Parliament about the high cost of cross-Solent ferries, describing them as “Some of the most expensive ferries on earth”. He said he was “moving towards” the idea of regulation and that the IW Council should have a seat on the boards of both Wightlink and Red Funnel.