During the October of 2016, Red Funnel were intensifying attempts for planning permission to expand their marshalling yard locations at East Cowes. PRO-LINK was informed that many Red Funnel’s own employees were submitting letters of support for the application to the IOW Planning department, while purporting to be general members of the public. It became clear that planning officers dealing with the application, could be easily ‘duped’ into believing that these letters were from island residents and visitors, when in actual fact the donors were not only under the employ of Red Funnel, but also lived on the mainland… some as far away as Kent. It became clear also that a template letter had been distributed to Red Funnel staff, from which to select certain phrases and words. All of the application comment letters can be read … here
Red Funnel’s expansion would come at a price if it succeeded. Historic buildings containing valuable ‘high skill set’ marine businesses would be demolished, making way for proposed Red Funnel tarmaced ‘marshalling’ areas. It has come to pass in the three years since 2016, this has indeed occurred with marine companies now being relocated to the mainland. Many marine industry jobs have been lost. Apprenticeship opportunities are far fewer… with the local circular economy already suffering… click here
Carl Feeney looked through the Red Funnel planning application support letters. He then cross referenced on ‘Google’ the names of the writers, with the words ‘Red Funnel’. It transpired that virtually every letter of support for the Red Funnel application was from a Red Funnel employee. Carl Feeney made this public on the Fixed Link Facebook Group … and asked the question – “This must be fraud by Red Funnel surely?”
If you are not on facebook, the main ‘post’ can be viewed below:
Take a look at other Facebook posts that revealed the force of Red Funnel’s unethical tactics to gain marshalling yard expansion planning permission:
August 24th, 2017 … click here.
Very soon after, Carl Feeney received a letter from Red Funnel’s solicitors, threatening legal action on grounds of ‘defamation’.
The letter in full, is published below:
Carl sought legal advice. It was confirmed there was no defamation. All grounds stipulated in the legal communication, were considered null and void. The exposing of perceived corporate deception, while asking questions about the legality of that perceived attempted deception, are not grounds that require defence. Carl did not state that Red Funnel committed attempted deceptive fraud, but asked the question whether the circumstances as proven, could warrant such a statement?
The ‘letter of claim’ from ‘Pitmans’, was defined as a tactic to scare Carl Feeney away from further informing the public of Red Funnel’s perceived underhanded strategies. The letter was ignored. Nothing further was heard from ‘Pitmans’. Red Funnel would have no grounds to sue Carl Feeney on the pretext that if the application failed, it would be his fault. Even though the planning application was eventually rejected, the decision was made by the IOW Council planning committee using the information supplied by the planning office and public opinion, while also taking into account moral and ethical implications.
News articles at the time regarding the Red Funnel application …
On 12th April 2016, the Red funnel application was rejected by the IOW Planning Committee.
Examples of the reaction…
Red Funnel decided to appeal the decision. The fight to save East Cowes continued …
Ultimately though, Red Funnel won the appeal. During that time, Kevin George ( then CEO of Red Funnel and now Chair of ‘Red Funnel Group’ ) became the Business Director of the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (SLEP). The SLEP define where devolved government funds for infrastructure are allocated. Red Funnel is part of the cross Solent transport infrastructure.
It is now believed that Red Funnel now have their sights set on the Columbine Building at East Cowes. To accommodate further island population increases, Red Funnels’ Kevin George has stated that a second Link-Span is required, to allow two ferries to dock in port simultaneously. Successful ‘Wight Shipyard’ employing hundreds of high skill set workforce will be lost. Yet another casualty of Red Funnel’s inexorable zest for more land.