Council leader says they can’t send the floating bridge back

Council leader, Dave Stewart said, “If people say to me, yes, but it breaks down, I say, so does the Red Jet”.

floating bridge suspended

The Isle of Wight Council leader has hit back at calls for the Cowes floating bridge to be scrapped — blaming the previous administration for ongoing problems with the vessel.

Cllr Dave Stewart has responded to comments made by East Cowes Cllr Karl Love, who has called for the floating bridge to be sent back and replaced with one that works, branding the vessel an ‘an embarrassment and a failure.’

Leader: I do believe it is good and reliable
Cllr Stewart said he disagreed with Cllr Love but admitted there were ‘challenges’ with the floating bridge.

He said,

“When I say to people it is good and reliable, I do believe it is good and reliable.

“If people say to me, ‘yes, but it breaks down,’ I say, ‘so does the Red Jet.’

“People need to understand we, as an administration, inherited the floating bridge the previous administration had ordered and — in my view — not kept a tight handle on, with lots of debate about the design we are dealing with legally.

“We are about to embark on some major roadworks though Newport. Now our goal is to make sure that the floating bridge is available so people can use it.

“I could sit here and say I would like the bridge to never break down, but it has and we have times were we need to fix it.”

Between May and August, the floating bridge carried 199,735 foot passengers and 78,234 care, operating for 2240 hours.

However, It has been out of service since 10th September due to a mechanical issue with the west prow hinge.

Stewart: You can’t send the bridge back
Cllr Stewart said,

“I think 199,000 people using it in four months isn’t completely useless, as Cllr Love would say.

“He may not like it, and I know people feel it is frustrating. But there is more work planned and we will get to a place where I am satisfied it is not just good and reliable, but it is good and reliable pretty much most of the time.

“To Karl Love I say this — you can’t send the bridge back Karl. We didn’t order it, but we have got it, we have paid for it and now we have to make it run.”

Costs spiralled to more than £6.4m
Floating Bridge 6 originally cost £3.2 million and was launched in May 2017.

A report published by the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership in November revealed that, due to the cost of fixing problems with the vessel, and providing replacement services, that cost had spiralled to more than £6.4 million.

At the time it was designed, the council was run by the Island Independents, although it is well documented that councillors have nothing to do with the design and procurement process.

This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some alterations and additions may be been made by OnTheWight. Ed

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9 Comments on "Council leader says they can’t send the floating bridge back"

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Alternative Perspective

“If people say to me, yes, but it breaks down, I say, so does the Red Jet”.

What sort of logic and justification is that? Yes the Tory Council are rubbish, but so are the Conservative Government?


I don’t recall the Red Jet being out of service for over a week, or so frequently; am I wrong?

Steve Goodman


Perhaps cllr Stewart can justify his reliability claims with some useful figures. Specifically – on how many days since its launch has the new floating bridge suffered issues such as providing limited or no service for all or part of the day? (Having to be supported or replaced by an additional vessel in this context counts as a fault). Also how many complaints have been received regarding… Read more »
Would the Council Leader please explain why he thinks ‘they cannot send the Floating Bridge back.’ If he means he has been advised by his legal department he should say so. If his legal department are still preparing a case against the marine consultant designers and/or the shipbuilders he should say so. In the meantime he should get on and order another Floating Bridge that works to… Read more »
Steve Goodman
? Dave didn’t add that if a (much more reliable than the infamous frequently failing floaty) Red Jet breaks down, the other Red Jets maintain the essential service until the repaired one returns; and, unlike Dave’s flawed floaty, the cost of the the Red Jets have not doubled due to breakdowns. Nor did Dave deal with his administration’s failure for more than two years so far to… Read more »
I also don’t recall the red jets undergoing virtually monthly redesigns or needing a second vessel to keep them on course. Cllr stewart – if you want to lie to yourself that this floating bodge is reliable and hasn’t wasted millions of pounds of our money then that is your problem. Expecting the rest of us to swallow such a blatant fantasy is just plain insulting and… Read more »

If you buy something and it’s not fit for purpose and breaks down you return it and get your money back or it’s put right at no cost to the purchaser. What planet are you on Dave Stewart


Councillor Dave Stewart, can you get back in your spaceship and go back to Planet Zanussi because you’re no use here on Earth! Also absolutely fine to take some of your Tory mates with you! Maybe we can then find someone to put in your place who puts the interests of Island residents first!