Red Funnel has been told to “get its act together”, smarten up their yard and finish works to their marshalling area to help solve traffic problems in East Cowes.
Cllr Karl Love was speaking after a Zoom call which included Red Funnel’s chief executive, Fran Collins, during which he said there was “forthright discussion”. He accused the company of allowing their current marshalling yard to look like an “unkept dustbin” and failing to complete works which they “forced on the town”, and were supposed to address the issue of the town frequently being brought to a halt by the amount of traffic, inconveniencing residents and costing local companies “many thousands of pounds”.
In 2017 Red Funnel won a planning appeal against the IW Council, after it turned down the company’s application to build a new ferry terminal and marshalling yard. At the time a spokesman for the company said: “Red Funnel now has the approval it needs to build a 21st century ferry terminal which will facilitate growth in the Island’s economy for decades to come, as well as resolving the traffic congestion in East Cowes and facilitating the regeneration of the town centre.”
Cllr Love claims that the planned development, which was due for completion in early 2021, may now never go ahead. He reported that Ms Collins told the Zoom meeting that she was waiting to see what the traffic volumes are like later this year before deciding whether to proceed, explaining that the decision has also been impacted by the epidemic and the fact that the company “made a loss last year and might just about break even this year”. There are fears in the community that the “ugly and expensive” steel fencing, which is said to be temporary, will become a permanent fixture. He said: “The people of our town smell a rat and that’s what’s been reported to me.”
He added: “All Red Funnel seems to be interested in is the bottom line. Enough is enough – this is our town where we live and it’s time that they invested in to making our Island gateway look like a sparkling, exciting place to visit. It turns out that their clean line drawings and spacious yard has resulted in a gateway entrance looking like a refuse tip.
“Come on Red Funnel; get your act together and complete the promised work to the specifications you forced upon the people of our town and Island.”
The major roadworks in the town, which Cllr Love conceded had added to recent problems, were due to be completed yesterday (Thursday), to be followed by evening resurfacing for around two weeks.
Fran Collins, Red Funnel’s chief Executive, said: “We remain committed to improving our East Cowes terminal, enhancing both our service and quality of life for local residents. Covid-19 has provided us with unforeseen challenges, resulting in delays to our plans, and we are grateful for the patience of our neighbours and residents. We look forward to putting our plans back in motion as soon as circumstances improve.
“We welcome pro-active and open conversations with local stakeholders and residents and have worked to keep them fully informed throughout this time, including regular meetings with the East Cowes Town Council, our continued contribution to the East Cowes Waterfront Masterplan refresh steering group, and our support for the IW Council’s submission for a levelling up grant to enable regeneration in East Cowes.”