Last week Red Funnel launched a petition calling on residents to register their support for plans to expand their ferry terminal in East Cowes, which they say forms part of the East Cowes Regeneration.
Have your say
Red Funnel’s planning application for the expansion is currently open to public comment, but closes on 19th February (see details on the council’s Website).
At time of publishing, there were almost 400 comments on the application.
Plea from businesses
Jason Hayman of Sustainable Marine Energy Ltd has shared an open letter to Red Funnel’s CEO, Kevin George (see longer version at bottom of this article), calling on the ferry boss to “honest about Red Funnel’s ‘Once in a lifetime opportunity’ in East Cowes”.
At my company we are fans of Red Funnel’s service, and we would like better facilities in East Cowes. We also want to see East Cowes properly regenerated to assure the town has a solid economic future. Your proposed ‘better gateway for the Island’ does not do this.
I read your flyer, and I am concerned that you are asking the public to support your planning application without providing them with all of the facts.
Tax payers’ money
I agree that the scheme you are proposing is a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’, but only for Red Funnel. It is unusual for a private company to be offered prime waterfront land by a government agency, and be offered public funding to purchase the land.
To then be allowed to package up a significant portion of the land acquired using tax payers’ funds, along with land you already own and sell it to make a profit with only outline planning; what business wouldn’t jump at that opportunity?
A renaissance of Marine businesses
One could understand if the land was derelict and of no value to the Island’s economy. Marine businesses in East Cowes have enjoyed a renaissance and now ourselves, and our neighbours AMC and Shemara Refit, are all busy, including building your new RedJet 6! The Venture Quays and Trinity Wharf sites have over 200 people working across them and will be demolished under your plan.
We signed short leases with the HCA when we arrived. We had no choice; that was all we were offered. Rents are not low! We are paying market rates, our research shows more than on the mainland if we were to relocate.
Refused any meaningful dialogue
We were shocked that there were no considerations made for marine businesses requiring access to the water in your plans. We contacted you and others to talk about modifying the scheme to include a marine technology cluster.
You have refused any meaningful dialogue. It appears that you are just going to try to resort to large company PR to get your planning application approved.
Be honest with the public
You are asking the public to support your scheme; please be honest with them! You are asking them to choose between a new terminal and more second homes with the loss of two valuable employment sites, or the potential of jobs if a hotel is built.
We want to engage in a transparent dialogue with you, HCA, the Council, and the community about a regeneration plan for East Cowes that will deliver new terminal facilities and also provide East Cowes and the Island with an economic future that benefits the community.
My door is open
My door is open should you wish to discuss how this could be achieved. I’m sure the public would like to hear your views on this first-hand. A public meeting can be arranged in East Cowes where we could discuss this in an open forum.
Mr George are you were willing to do so?
Join us in figuring out how to make this a true ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ for the local community and your customers. Instead of a plan which just serves your own interests.
Yours sincerely, Jason Hayman, Managing Director, Sustainable Marine Energy Ltd
This flyer has been created by the group and is being distributed in East Cowes …
Image: © With kind permission of Reg White via Save Venture Quays & Dover Road Facebook Group