Ferry companies discuss their concerns with Secretary of State for Transport

Heads of the three cross-Solent ferry companies meet Government minister to discuss their concerns.

This in from the council in their own words, Ed

The Secretary of State for Transport is to hold further talks with cross-Solent ferry companies following an initial round-table discussion in Cowes today (Thursday).

The meeting between Transport Secretary Rt. Hon. Patrick McLoughlin and senior representatives from Wightlink, Red Funnel and Hovertravel this afternoon was organised by the Isle of Wight Council. It was the first time all operators had collectively met a senior government minister for a meeting of this type.

The purpose of the discussion was for the ferry operators to explain to government what barriers they faced in investing to secure affordable and accessible services and infrastructure.

Pugh: “Ferry companies are delighted” with offer of Westminster meeting
After the meeting, Isle of Wight Council leader David Pugh said: “The way to maintain and enhance cross-Solent services will be through positive dialogue. This initial meeting was an important part in the process and I know the ferry companies are delighted that they have been offered a further meeting in Westminster to discuss the issues they face.

“The council was pleased to arrange this initial meeting which we hope can help bring positive benefits to the Island. I think this meeting underlined the council’s determination to encourage economic growth and assisting Westminster in understanding the uniqueness and special characteristics of the Island is an important part of this.

“I would like to thank the ferry companies for their open and honest input into the meeting and also to the Secretary of State for setting out a positive way forward.”

No likelihood of direct Government subsidies
During the meeting, the Secretary of State confirmed there was no likelihood of direct Government subsidies for the Island’s ferry services and welcomed the collective approach operators had taken to growing the ferry market by investment through activity such as tourism promotion.

Present at the meeting with the Secretary of State were Isle of Wight Council chief executive, Steve Beynon, Isle of Wight Council deputy director of economy and environment, John Metcalfe, Isle of Wight Council leader, councillor David Pugh, Councillor Edward Giles, Isle of Wight Council cabinet member responsible for transport, Russell Kew, Wightlink chief executive, Murray Carter, commercial operations director, Red Funnel, and Henry Game, chief executive, Hovertravel.

Image: © Isle of Wight council: From Left: Cllr David Pugh, leader of IW Council, Henry Game, chief executive, Hovertravel, Murray Carter, commercial operations director, Red Funnel, Transport Secretary Rt. Hon. Patrick McLoughlin, Russell Kew, chief executive, Wightlink

Thursday, 14th March, 2013 3:38pm


ShortURL: http://wig.ht/2aAy

Filed under: Ferry, Government, Hover, Island-wide, Top story

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Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.


  1. Pass the sick-bucket please!!
    Election Love-in more like?

    • Island Monkey

      14.Mar.2013 8:22pm

      Why on earth are they discussing THEIR CONCERNS Mr Pugh? They should be discussing OUR concerns not the people bleeding Islander’s dry and killing the tourism economy.

      Oh no, they couldn’t discuss anything with anyone else, because you didn’t invite anyone else did you? Only your pals the ferry operators.

      This meeting was an embarrassing disgrace.

  2. Better Red than Bled

    14.Mar.2013 6:49pm

    It doesn’t look like there is a lot of cross examination going on in the picture. You would have thought they could at least sat on opposite side of the table to show that they want different things from the outcome of any talks. Who was representing the Ferry Users Group?

  3. How come the ferry operators get Beynon & Pugh at their meeting with someone from the government, & neither turned up for the passenger reps’ meeting at Westminster? Who does Pugherile think he was elected to represent?

    • The pose of Pugherile’s hand says it all, really…

      • I love reading the comments on this site, it has so many really informed views, but do hate it when people feel the need to name call. It really deflects from the very valid points being made.

        • You’ve lived a very sheltered life if this is what you call name-calling, Gem! It barely registers on the rough & tumble of politics. I wish our Leader paid a twentieth of the concern to the feelings of his electorate, not to mention our health & safety, democratic & environmental heritages etc, as you do….

          • There’s an honourable tradition of lampoonery of politicans going back at least to Hogarth. If they can’t stand the [mild warmth, in this case], they really shouldn’t be in the kitchen!

          • I don’t believe I’ve lived a sheltered life at all, I just consider myself polite.

            I am sure that Pugh can take it. He appears to be made of Teflon afterall.

            I just find the name calling lowers the tone of the discussions.

  4. Black Dog

    14.Mar.2013 8:02pm

    I thought that the 60′ were a thing of the past and yet here we are in 2013 – A LOVE IN

    If it wasn’t so tragic it would actually be funny. The Boy Blunder, Teflon Steve, Ed Giles and John Metcalfe representing the numpties at County Hall; on the Pariahs side Kew, Carter and Game. The man in the middle (possibly the stupidest man in Parliament to allow himself to be blind-sided by these idiots)

    So what has been achieved other than a photo call and more alienation of the Ferry Users Group, Our MP, and just about everyone else on the Island. Well done David, as usual, you achieved nothing.

    So just to recap, No interference by Government, No Subsidies, Ferry providers bleating about their concerns and what they are going to do about them.

    Pugh – “The way to maintain and enhance cross-Solent services will be through positive dialogue” Let us examine this – Who the bl@@dy hell are they talking to, except themselves? What have Pugh and Kew been doing for years on the board they sit on for cross-Solent development? The crisis has not happened overnight and there is no Ofsted oR Kent Council to dig the Island out of the Mire.

    Apparently, “The purpose of the discussion was for the ferry operators to explain to government what barriers they faced in investing to secure affordable and accessible services and infrastructure.” Let us start with a self imposed barrier, the repatriation of profits to mitigate UK tax liabilities.

    I do not know what they put in the Secretary of States Coffee but he is under the impression there was a collective approach by the operators to growing the ferry market by investment through activity such as tourism promotion. I CAN NOT REMEMBER ANY OF THE FERRY OPERATORS VOICING THEIR CONCERNS WHEN THE COUNCIL ARBITRARILY CLOSED PUBLIC TOILETS ON THIS A TOURIST ISLAND. I AM ALSO UNAWARE OF PRICE REDUCTIONS TO ENCOURAGE TOURISTS AND SUPPORT THE LOCAL ECONOMY – THE REVERSE ACTUALLY APPLIES. I COULD GO ON BUT AM GETTING QUITE DEPRESSED

    It is too little too late Pugh it will not save your skin and rest assured all your decisions will be examined by forensic accounts.

  5. I do not believe it

    14.Mar.2013 8:20pm

    Yes! Thank you Pugh for forgetting to involve the ferry users in your cosy meeting. You have a habit of failing to consult the end end-users of your “services”!

    It’s turning into a nasty habit. Let’s hope your electorate remember all your little shortcomings in MaY.

  6. How hard would it have been for Pugherile – & Beynon, who we are told was also present! – to support (gasp) the ferry-users at their meeting too? It would have been an appearance of statesmanship worth quite a few votes. It’s not as if the ferry companies were twisting their arms not to do so, or anything….

  7. Here’s an idea, how about Andrew Turner coordinating & attending a meeting of ferry users & ferry companies together, with the relevant Westminster minister? Better than a one-sided cosying-up to explain why the cuts are justified….

  8. The trouble is that there is no integrated approach to the problem. Turner and Pugh are doing their own thing, with our MP being kept at arms length, as are the users, the customers and the new tourism supremo. Totally childish behaviour which will achieve little or nothing.
    The ferry operators have nothing to fear all the time our largely useless amateur politicians bicker between themselves and cowtow up to those who are already holding us all to ransom.
    Maybe it’s a good time for our group of Independents to come forward with a set of proposals we can all understand, agree to and ultimately help us to vote on.

  9. Ladies and Gentlemen – your summary

    Pugh – “positive dialogue” (meaningless drivel)

    Minister – “no liklihood of subsidies” (waste of time attending)

    Solution? Increase tourism to reduce fares for all. Chicken and egg situation. High fares = no tourists. Who will make the first move – the tourists or the ferry companies?


    A jolly good day out with lunch.

  10. Postcript

    15.Mar.2013 8:34am

    Absolutely agree. The island should have subsidy from central Government, and if that isn’t going to happen, what the heck are they talking about? Better provision? Isn’t that what we should expect as a given?
    The way I see it, with many friends voting with their feet and moving t the mainland, the Island is going lose residents. Yes, it is a nice please to live but there are very many of those on the mainland too, AND they have public toilets that actually open! I don’t suppose that would dent the profits of the ferry operators, they have us over and barrel and they are going to extract every last drop of profit. There is no concession or even an appearance of it.
    What they are discussing would appear to be how to maintain an inadequate service and improve it to semi inadequate.

    • phil jordan

      15.Mar.2013 11:20am


      I’m afraid that if you get only business leaders to a meeting you are only going to get business ideas and philosophies emerge..
      It is clear that this Council cannot and will not work with our MP (whatever you think or feel about him, he is our MP) quite probably because of the spat between the Leader and the MP a very long time ago now. Can you imagine if the Council and the MP held different Political persuasions….!!
      This is a failing on the part of the Leadership of the Council and not, in my view, that of the MP who appears to be able to work with anyone.
      It is even confusing that we Islanders are making representations to Government with business leaders involved and the Council delegation only on the one hand….and our MP with a multi-interest group and users (including some Councillors – but NOT Council or businesses)on the other.
      The whole idea, lost on this Council and its Leadership, is that ALL parties have to be involved to move this serious issue forward.
      It’s not only a *business* solution needed it’s a service solution that’s also required.
      My view would be that our MP is best placed to organise delegations to Government and to keep up whatever pressure he can along the way.
      A business and Council only approach is confusing, doomed to failure (since the users of the service are not involved)and actual poor publicity (though the Council seem less concerned with that aspect)for us all as Islanders.
      Isn’t it time this ruling group started working with all those concerned in issues, and not just a selected few. How about working with the electorate as well?
      I am concerned over this *failure* to work with others and to *mediate* over issues which is a skill clearly lacking from the current administration.
      Just another aspect to consider when voting comes around on May 2nd. The Island group of Independents can clearly work with our MP as the recent meeting in Westminster has shown…Isn’t it time we did that as a general strategy for major Island issues….?

      phil jordan
      Independent candidate

  11. I do not believe it

    15.Mar.2013 9:18am

    I’ve got it! Sudden realisation! Why didn’t I think of it before?
    Because of (yet another) Red Jet cancellation earlier this month I, and many others, had to wait for an hour in Cowes for the next service. We, and the new tribe of passengers, crammed onto the ferry. A good 50 percent of us had resultantly missed trains, planes and meetings.
    The attendant (possibly wearing the equivalent badge rank of a Lt. Commander) made the usual scripted announcements but not one word of apology.
    When we arrived in Southampton tha attendant uttered the following groan-inducing words:-

    “thank you for travelling HIGH SPEED today”.

    That’s it ladies and gentlemen! Pughrile et al are all

    HIGH on SPEED!


  12. A small point, but sadly one typical of the council’s lack of attention to detail, Henry Game is, and has been for three years, the Chief Executive of Bland Group UK Holdings, which own, along with other companies, Hovertravel.

    • The Isle of Wight Council has brought in its biggest guns with this “behind closed doors” meeting. Not ony was the MP and Trades Council or User group not invited it appears as though the Press were not invited either! Maybe “On the Wight” can clarify? Notice the Council photographer’s stage managed setting. The positioning of Kew to Pugh is meant to represent how close they are, is Pugh really thumping the table? I doubt it. The imagery or narrative doesn’t impress anyone.
      If they want us to believe that this has become a “green issue” with the EU and Wightlink asking for help from the government it won’t wash. The fuel price is not our concern. None of this secures our ferry link at an affordable price. They have obviously known about this issue for some time and have some more cuts planned and this is how to justify them and either maintain cuts or up sticks and move out.
      This meeting is meant to overwhelm islanders, there is no argument presented, no debate, and this is “gagging” the press and marginalising the people’s response.
      This latest action by Pugh, Wightlink and the Government is arbitrary in its aim and as a tactic is an attempt to suppress opposition by an excessive show of superiority and submerge the resistance to their plans. This will not work!!!

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