The fixed-link debate continues with pro-campaign calling for a referendum (updated)

The pro-campaign say they have the assurance from the Isle of Wight Conservative MP, Andrew Turner, that if enough Islanders are interested, a referendum on a fixed link could take place in 2015. He disputes giving his support to a referendum.

Bridge

The subject of a fixed link between the Isle of Wight and the mainland rages on, as it has done for decades. The latest buzz is surrounding two online petitions, one calling for either a tunnel or bridge, the other against the idea of a fixed link.

The pro-fixed link campaign is being driven by Carl Feeney and Kevin Price. Their e-petition on the Government’s website has attracted almost 900 signatures so far and they’ve also set up an area for discussion on Facebook.

Their petition reads,

We need a Fixed link tunnel to Isle of Wight. It’s such a hassle to get on/off the island, and expensive! Also with the recent accident on the Wightlink ferry, and red funnel traffic issues in east Cowes, which caused mayhem, these are another reason why we need it!

A fixed-link referendum
On their Facebook page, Kevin and Carl say they’ve “had the assurances from Andrew Turner MP that a referendum will be held if it is felt the majority of Islanders want it”.

It goes on to add the Ministry of Transport holds a £6billion fund for infrastructure projects in the South to the year 2021.

MP rejects support for referendum
Andrew Turner’s office have been in touch since publishing this article to say that Mr Price and Feeney have misinterpreted the MP’s support for a referendum.

His office says that during a surgery meeting with Mr Price and Feeney, Mr Turner said they should find out what people think and that he wanted to concentrate on improving the ferries at the moment.

The subject of a referendum was then raised by Mr Price and Feeney and the MP agreed that would be one way of finding out what people think, but “it was not support for a referendum”.

We were told, “To say he supported a referendum would not be accurate.”

Against a fixed link
The fixed link debate clearly has two sides to it, many Islanders, although unhappy about ferry costs and service levels, are very much against a fixed-link.

So as you’d expect a counter petition has been set up. At time of publishing, the petition set up by Leif Marriner had attracted just under 180 signatures and reads,

Say No to the Isle if Wight Fixed Link. There is another petition saying yes to a fixed link. So this petition is for all of us who want to say no.. Make your voice be heard before the 2015 referendum.

We’re sure the fixed-link debate will continue on as it has done for decades. The question is, whether the talk will develop into tangible action.

Tunnel to Ireland?
The Belfast Telegraph has recently reported on the recommendations of a think tank to build an underwater tunnel linking Anglesey to a major port on the east coast of Ireland in order to improve the links between Ireland and the UK and mainland Europe.

However, the plans appear to be pipedreams for the think tank, as the Prime Minister of Ireland has stated the tunnel is unrealistic due to costs, which are comparable to the cost of the HS2 London to Birmingham project, a staggering £15 billion!

Thanks to John R for the link to that news.

Further reading (and comments)
Jonathan Dodd: Bridging the Gap
Daft Old Duffer: A Glimpse Into The Future?
Building Bridges: Fixed Link To The Island or Not?
Letter: Would A Fixed Link Encourage More Business?
Letter: No chance of a fixed link
Letter: How about a semi-fixed link to Lymington?
Letter: Would a railway bridge solve the road bridge concerns?

Article edit 14.20:
Under the sub-heading: A fixed-link referendum – Amended reference to funding for the country to for the south

Source

Image: Little Miss Purps under CC BY 2.0

Friday, 14th November, 2014 9:15am

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Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Top story

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44 Comments on "The fixed-link debate continues with pro-campaign calling for a referendum (updated)"

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Cynic
Any referendum on a fixed link should have two questions: 1. Would you support a fixed link if toll fees were the same or more than today’s ferry prices because it was built and operated under PFI by mainly offshore companies like VINCI, Macquarie, Prudential etc? 2. Would you support a fixed link if it was built and operated by the government (£9 billion investment needed) who… Read more »
Tim

Whatever links we have to the mainland in the future, fixed or otherwise, they need to be owned by and run for the benefit of the community with tolls or fares based on the Road Equivalent Tariff that they use in Scotland.

wighton

No bridge. We will have crippling tailbacks on our roads most of the year; our island couldn’t handle that traffic. The ferry companies should be nationalised!

Nitonia
I’m not going to express an opinion on a fixed link as I’ll have my say if there’s a referendum. Wighton, “crippling tailbacks” don’t you think that is slightly overstating things? Even on a busy rainy day when everyone suddenly feels it essential to go to Marks and Spencers it isn’t that bad! You should try and get out of Reading (or any other mainland town) on… Read more »
Nitonia

If I was feeling mischievous I’d say we could spend the millions saved on a bridge. But I’m not, so I won’t.

bigj

TAILBACKS??? – like we get to the ferries already? remember the Festival was it last year or 2012?

Simon Haytack

It was 2012, and that was caused by problems on the Festival site, nothing to do with the ferries. Since then the Festival have a very well planned traffic management strategy, which has resulted in minimal disruption in 2013 and 2014.

David
I’ve always felt a fixed link would work well as a tunnel which would link up to the railway at St John’s which would then form a dual carriage way down the island’s Eastern spine- thus reducing the traffic through villages like Brading and Sandham etc. This dual carriage way would be supported by a tram system down the centre (which would also be open for emergency… Read more »
ThomasC

It’s a great dream, but not one that’s likely to happen in the UK :(

David

Also, why are so many of these petitions so poorly formed? It puts me of signing (either of them!)

The Sciolist
I find it astonishing that no-one (Council, MP, MEP, LEP has ever asked the government to fund a feasibility study on the subject, let alone ask for an actual fixed link. People get distracted by specifics, the actual link could be road, rail, cycle or just pedestrian. It could be above or below ground too in one of many locations. Where is the harm in doing a… Read more »
derek

Is Russell Kew still chairman of the Solent LTB?

calderjon

Already this self appointed “pro campaign” group are twisting people’s words and meanings it seems.

If this is to be done, and I’m actually on the fence, it needs proper organisation by a reliable group.

It could be the difference between success or failure.

Robert Jones
Back in 1973, the Conservation Society – of which I was an earthly representative – proposed a rail-only link. That would have been feasible, if expensive to actually do, and easier then than now because railways were still publicly owned at the time. Commercial considerations alone probably rule it out as a proposition now – unless of course transport were nationalized, as I believe it should be.… Read more »
Colin

If anyone is so desperate to need a fixed link to the mainland, than maybe they are not suited to island living with all it’s pros and cons. Whether you like it or not, being an island with the ferries and all their faults is what keeps the island what it is.

Probably best you move to the north island.

Vix
I fully support a referendum on this issue in the same way I fully support a referendum on the EU. A bridge or tunnel would have pros and cons and it’s a matter of weighing them up. We need more evidence to decide how to vote – reports on economic implications and social and environmental. For the MP to say he doesn’t support a referendum after all… Read more »
Simon Haytack

If they’re taking it to the government, the pro fixed link side will need a much better argument than simply “it’s such a hassle” and “traffic issues”.

Head to the mainland and you’ll see what “traffic issues” really are..

tiki

900+ / yes 200+ /no and the other 100,000 couldn’t care less. It’s a non starter and I won’t be supporting a fixed link. Load of old b****

peaceful_life

IMHO, initial talk of a referendum *before* having a fully informed and in-depth public debate is an assumptive distraction.

Have the debate by all means and *then* decide with long term feasibility. Who knows, a debate in itself might well serve in connecting things….and not necessarily landmasses.

vix

Yes the referendum has to be after evidence is collated and a plan is in place. Otherwise it is meaningless. The referendum has to instigate Action.

calderjon
Giving this some thought now, let’s assume a toll tunnel was built (I am reliably informed that a bridge is probably never going to be viable). What would be wrong with charging visitors say £40 for a return with a sizeable proportion of that being handed over to the council to inject into our economy / infrastructure. Then a nominal £10 or £20 return fee for Islanders?… Read more »
Robert Jones
Well – what you’re missing is the value brought by those day-trippers. A rail-only link would encourage those who wished to come here on foot, whether staying for just a day or for a few days. A toll is a ghastly idea – why should people have to pay over the odds to come here (of course, they already do…). Nah – train link or nothing, I… Read more »
calderjon
We regularly have to travel to Southampton with our daughter who has half a heart. Also, we live on a knife edge as if something goes wrong whilst she is at home, she has a very limited window in which to get to a specialist unit for life saving treatment. St Mary’s are not equipped and do not have the specialists, Southampton are and do. There is… Read more »
Robert Jones
There’s little doubt that if there were a fixed link – almost of whatever kind – not only would these emergency medical issues be much easier to deal with (I had one which couldn’t be treated here, some years ago) but our financial and economic situation, which has lagged far behind the rest of the south of England for decades if not forever, would be a great… Read more »
Cynic

I have every sympathy with calderjon about his child. (BTW How does air ambulance turbulence differ from rough sea turbulence?)

Is not the real solution to ensure that St. Mary’s does have the specialist unit and equipment?

calderjon
Thanks Cicero, just one of those things, we all have our crosses! There is a “rhythm” in an air ambulance apparently and it is always there. All of the heart specialists we have spoken to about the condition say it’s a no no! The cost of setting up a specialist centre such as Southampton is in the millions at the very least – probably billions. At present… Read more »
Cynic

Not a waffle calderjon but a heart-rending description of what you, your little one and your family are going through!.

For me, there is nothing worse as a man than not being able to do anything when one of our family’s little ones is suffering. I really feel for you!

calderjon
@Cicero thank you. She’s actually my step-daughter but I’ve been around since she was two and spent two weeks in Southampton for her third surgery. It’s a terrible thing to witness but even at the ripe old age of 43 at the time, I learned an awful lot more about life and people than I had up to that point. And still I go on learning. Watching… Read more »
John Nashn

If you choose to live on an ISLAND you choose to live with the inconvenience of living on an ISLAND.

Robert Jones
I wouldn’t get too apoplectic just yet – or even mildly disturbed. A bridge is almost certainly not viable, a tunnel would be fantastically expensive – who is going to find the money, and why would anyone want to find it? Where is the motive to inspire the keen investor? This has been raised as a suggestion time and again over the last 50 years to my… Read more »
Darth

Many people didn’t “Choose” to live on the island many of us were born here

calderjon
The Island will always be an Island, a fixed link is merely a way bypass the stranglehold and appalling service we suffer at the hands of the ferry companies. As it stands, we have no influence over Wight-link or Red-funnel. They control costs and timetables. This (and I admit it’s probably pie in the sky) will at least give us the change to have some say and… Read more »
milly

I’m supporting this fixed link now after the way Wightlink has performed. If they can do it in London in a matter of months for the cross rail they can do it here.

Robert Jones

There’s money in London; and always money FOR London – leaving everything else aside, I’d like to be able to visit my relatives on the mainland rather more easily and distinctly less expensively; but such needs and desires count for nothing with those who hold the purse-strings.

tryme

Robert, if you upsticks and move there I hope to have your absolute assurance you’ll continue posting here …

retired Hack

I do hope that the fence on which Andrew Turner is sitting has some very sharp, upward-pointing, spikes.
You don’t need to be a fixed-link supporter in order to support a properly-organised, neutrally-worded referendum. You might even call it a democratic necessity. What on earth’s the matter with the man?

mat

There are a number of trades unionists who want to push this latest initiative forward for a fixed link.

Better Red than Bled

If Trades Unions are in favour of this, then the fence spikes in Mr Turners exposed rear will be removed as he comes out against a fixed link. He hates to see working people have a view!

Braveheart
Having read through all the comments on here with regards to the ‘For and Against’ scenario, it surprises me to note that no one has mentioned if a fixed link bridge were favoured how high it would have to be in order to accommodate the exceptionally high Cruise Ships that enter Southampton Docks. Further to this what consideration has been given to our counterparts across the water?… Read more »
RJC

Perfect timing at the moment. Loads of spoil coming out of the Stonehenge tunnel. Dump it all down at Hurst. Tidal generators in the gap that’s left and a short bridge over the top. Sorted. Oh I forgot about the shipping, most of the large ones go around the other way now and pleasure craft should do the same.

Jean

Hold a referendum at the same time as council elections or the general election. I have recently returned from southern Spain, the bridges and tunnels are amazing, funded by the EU. Is that a possibility for this venture?

Jonathan
Just get on with it and build the thing. You know it makes sense, you know it’s going to bring more money in, you know it’s going to stop young people fleeing the island, and you know it’s going to slow the rate at which the island’s average age rises. Hot air isn’t going to get you a carer when you need one. If I want to… Read more »
deborah

I think they should have the fixed link as the money should be spent on hospital to have more nurses and doctors at the local hospital. and on the education of the children of today socity what do you think????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

deborah

should be not have