Huge losses for Floating Bridge 6 revealed in this most comprehensive breakdown of running costs

A well-crafted FOI request has extracted the most comprehensive breakdown of the Floating Bridge running costs right up to Sept 2020. Here’s the overview

Floating Bridge 6 with boats in the background

The most detailed and comprehensive breakdown of the costs of operating Cowes Floating Bridge 6 has been shared with News OnTheWight, by the Floating Bridge Stakeholders’ and Engineers’ Group.

The documents reveal the most detailed costs up to September 2020 that were not previously known and News OnTheWight will be publishing a number of articles throughout the day looking into those details.

£1.2m lost over last 26 months
By the group crafting and submitting the well-crafted Freedom of Information request, it’s revealed that Cowes Floating Bridge 6 has cost the Isle of Wight council – and therefore tax-payers – almost £1.2m in the last 26 months, over and above the income it’s brought in.

Floating Bridge 5 used to be profitable
The previous version, Floating Bridge 5, used to make a profit for the council of between £140,000-£250,000 a year.

However, the ongoing problems for FB6 (from day one of the service) have racked up the costs from a staggering £6,400,000 (by Nov 2018) to more now (we’re seeking to clarify).

The new Floating Bridge 6 (FB6) ‘only’ cost £3.2m to buy in the first place.

A lot of money
These latest figures reveal that, over 26 months (Aug 2018 to Sept 2020), the total costs for FB6 (broken down into 36 categories), including things like; professional services; banking fees; payment to private contractors; medical fees and fuel costs came to £2,548,987.

Against this, the income for the service was £1,373,388 – meaning the Floating Bridge over this period has cost the tax payers £1,175,599 on top.

Amount lost£1,175,599

Unreadable PDFs
Of course, the council is bound by law to provide the information – this is why the Freedom of Information Act is so vital. 

Having to provide the information and providing it in a usable form are, it appears, not always the same thing.

Rather than provide the figures in a spreadsheet, Isle of Wight council opted to put the 28 columns of data in a table at the top of a portrait word doc, rendering it virtually unreadable to the naked eye, even when zoomed in.

News OnTheWight applied some technical whizz-bottery and managed to extract it all into a usable form.

Virtually unreadable FOI pdf of FB6 costs
The virtually unreadable FOI pdf of FB6 costs

More articles on the way
Given the amount of detail that has been provided, News OnTheWight has decided to break this down into a number of more manageable articles, a Deep Dive Series.

We’re planning to publish these over the next two days, so check back here to dig into the story.

Article edit
1:06pm 29th Oct 2020 – Seeking to clarify total costs to date, so suspended latest figure.

Image: © With kind permission of Les Lockhart

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Thursday, 29th October, 2020 12:45pm



Filed under: Cowes, East Cowes, Island-wide, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News, Roads, Top story, Travel

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9 Comments on "Huge losses for Floating Bridge 6 revealed in this most comprehensive breakdown of running costs"

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Mr Magoo
This article reveals two truths, the hidden running costs of the floating bridge and the shift in the balance of hard news reporting on the Wight. The first truth is obvious, the second is an opinion. While the County Press is concentrating on the stowaways removed from an oil tanker off the Island (a story which has long since since shifted to the mainland) and which the… Read more »
Cllr Ian Ward MUST now go. This information clearly shows that despite the current administration seeking to lay blame for FB6 with the previous administration, the actions of the current Conservative Council have been equally wasteful and appallingly thought-through. As the responsible Cabinet member, Ian Ward is a ‘Major Disappointment’. If Dave Stewart wants to continue supporting Ian Ward, I’d have serious doubts about Mr Stewart’s judgement… Read more »

How is the councillor responsible for this still in post?

Anyone who votes for him in the next local election has no right to complain or moan about the floating bridge.


Unfortunately, the voters in Sandown South who elected Cllr Ward are hardly likely to care about FB6. They probably also don’t give a monkey’s about the St Mary’s disaster.


Waiting to see the details, but what a shambles!


Feels absolutely criminal how the IW Council has failed in this venture. Absolutely unbelievable.

Benny C
The entire blame game that went on, trying to pin the all the contractual problems on the previous administration, is equally worthy of review. From what this material shows it’s hard to see how anything other than the procurement stage could be the source of the Major costs and failures, a process which this administration presided over 100%. In the private sector this would have been a… Read more »
The position of the Councillor Members connected with the Project are quite clearly untenable and resignation or failing that ‘impeachment’ must now be swiftly enacted in order to begin regaining public (voter) confidence. For the same good reasons, To preside over the ‘waste’ of so much of tax payers money is utterly unacceptable and is probably prima facie ‘mal- feasance in public office’, thus Council Officers; Legal,… Read more »

Not only are these exceptional ongoing costs unacceptable so is the way that the reply to the FOI request in the fact they tried to make it unreadable to try to hide the real facts. Well done On The Wight for getting round this.