Two privately run and unregulated ferry companies control the total vehicle movements between the Isle of Wight and mainland Hampshire. A hovercraft service (Hovertravel) is the sole competitor option away from the two main ferry companies to transport passengers.
To run a business that relies on transportation of goods or personnel across the Solent Waters, means that you will require the use of either Red Funnel or Wightlink, or both. There is no other option…..you will be unable to access mainland destinations using the options of road, cycling, walking, train, bus or coach as you would be able to elsewhere. There is simply no other way to reach your destination if commuting to further education, business or work on the mainland….and visa versa.
PRO-LINK has had discussions with many businesses and companies on the island about how a road based IOW Fixed Link would effect their Trade. Around 90% were in fervent favour, but none of them would dare speak out publicly against the two ferry companies. They are afraid of possible reprisals and the discontinuation of discounts from each company. The majority confessed that even though it is obvious the fixed link would be good for business, to speak out could cause higher transport costs for them while the link is built, potentially crippling their business and even bankrupt them. All expressed the concern that no regulatory body exists that they could appeal to, should any unfairness occur. All of the businesses we spoke to, operate under a blanket of control by one or both of the ferry companies.
Historical and present day collusions to prevent a fixed link…
The Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce
The Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce is clearly heavily influenced by each ferry company. Both Red Funnel and Wightlink have seats on the board and fund the COC heavily….Read More
The SLEP (Solent Local Enterprise Partnership)
Until very recently, the “Business Director” of the “Solent Local Enterprise Partnership” (SLEP) – Russell Kew, was also Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Wightlink Ferry Company. The SLEP are a powerful body established by central government, to access and allocate where and when millions of £’s of devolved government business and infrastructure funding, should be spent in the Solent area….. Read More
VIOW (Visit Isle of Wight)
PRO-LINK believes that very important tourism on the Isle of Wight is suffering a depletion in attraction footfall numbers and hotel bookings for the now more popular shorts breaks, due to difficulty of access and high travel costs to and from the island. It appears the two ferry companies have great influence to block fixed link option discussions within VIOW……Read More