During the October of 2016, Red Funnel were intensifying attempts for planning permission to expand their marshalling yard locations at East Cowes. Carl Feeney was informed that many of 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 the 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
It was proven that 48 letters of support for the Red Funnel expansion, came from Red Funnel employed staff. The other 31 could not be proven.
It shows how such a powerful unregulated company can manipulate public sentiment, while influencing authorities. There is normally no scrutiny in these matters.
If Red Funnel’s expansion succeeded, it would clearly be detrimental to the island… especially East Cowes. Historic buildings containing valuable ‘high skill set’ marine businesses would be demolished, making way for proposed Red Funnel tarmac ‘marshalling’ areas.
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:
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 an intimidation and ‘sabre rattling’ tactic to prevent Carl Feeney from further informing the public of Red Funnel’s manipulative strategies. Carl ignored the letter. Nothing further was heard again from ‘Pitmans’.
Red Funnel had no grounds to sue Carl Feeney on the pretext that if the application failed, it would be his fault. 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. Red Funnel would not be able to win down the root cause of the rejection to the question “This must be fraud by Red Funnel surely?”
Other Facebook posts that reveal the force of Red Funnel’s questionable tactics to gain marshalling yard expansion planning permission:
August 24th, 2017 … CLICK HERE
It has come to pass in the three years since 2016 that marine companies have now been relocated to the mainland. Hundreds of valuable marine industry jobs have been lost. Apprenticeship opportunities are far fewer, with the local circular economy already suffering… click here
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 an 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 further water front land acquisition 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 East Cowes waterfront land.
The Solent Freedom Tunnel will reduce or completely remove Red Funnel’s catastrophic demolition of East Cowes waterfront areas. The Solent Freedom Tunnel with the portal at Whippingham, will significantly reduce traffic in the town.