Letter: No chance of a fixed link

Bob Blocksidge says there is no point discussing the possibility of a fixed link to the Island as he believes there is no chance it’ll ever transpire.

Rowing boat:

We always welcome a Letter to the Editor to share with readers. If you have something you’d like to share, get in touch. This letter from Unite delegate IW TUC, Bob Blocksidge from Freshwater. Ed

For the past few weeks there has been a lot of discussion on the subject of a “Fixed Link”. Some arguing for it and the benefits of being able to move people and goods, easily to and from the Island. While others argue that installing a “Fixed Link”, would destroy the peace and tranquillity of the Island.

In his letter to the CP last week, D Penberthy makes the point about the possible effect on house prices and the increase in traffic on Island roads, if a “Fixed Link” was ever installed. He goes on to further point out that our beloved ferry companies would, due to the competition from the “Fixed Link”, be forced out of business.

No chance
I would, firstly like to put his mind at rest, in my opinion there is absolutely no chance of a fixed link being installed, no matter how many people want it, or don’t want it.

The finances required to build such a structure would obviously be prohibitive to the IW County Council, even if it wanted to do it.

The same, even more so, would apply to the government, which, in my view, is hell bent on destroying, rather than building anything.

Private capital?
Could private capital be used? I doubt it. Private capital would give the impression, of being extremely reluctant to invest in Britain, let alone the Island.

It would appear that Capitalism is more interested in maximising profits, through avoiding taxes, than investing.

Ferry monopoly
I therefore conclude that the whole argument about the ”Fixed Link” is a red herring and a diversion from the debate about Wightlink and Red Funnel having monopolies on their routes.

Due to their monopoly position, they can charge whatever they like and run, what used to be known as service whenever they choose.

We should campaign for the ferry to taken back into public ownership and be run as a service for the people of the Island.

Dare to struggle, dare to win.

Image: Mike Baird under CC BY 2.0

Saturday, 6th July, 2013 2:23pm


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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. woodworker

    6.Jul.2013 2:50pm

    I remember lots of people saying that it pointless voting for independents because they had no chance – this is a tory island.

    If people dont discuss it it most certainly will never happen. Fixed link should be discussed alongside the ferry monopoly.

  2. Braveheart

    6.Jul.2013 3:45pm

    I believe there will always be discussions on the merits of having a ‘Fixed Link’ from the Island to the mainland to relieve the pressures of being held ransom by the ferry companies.

    However, has anybody ever stopped to think that perhaps the mainlanders might not be quite so keen on the idea and would put forward many a legal challenge against it being built?

    That is even if the most important criteria is achieved, government planning permission especially as it would have to be built across the narrowest stretch of water which is a world renown site of historic importance.

    So best all-round, if we stay as nature intended, an Island!

  3. Personally, I think a rail tunnel would be ideal, but a ferry run as a public service would be a step in the right direction. The government doesn’t seem to care how much it costs to subsidise those who choose to live in the Falkland Islands, so why not put a bit our way too?

  4. We choose to live on and island – if you don’t like it move! Simple as that. I don’t like the over inflated fares either but I choose to live here. I have lived in countries with fixed links and tolls and before long people moan about the price of the tolls and believe me tolls do increase. I thought it was a very good letter from Bob Blocksidge. Lobby to get the fares reduced by all means but a fixed link ? In your dreams.

    • woodworker

      6.Jul.2013 9:15pm

      the old ‘if you dont like it, move’ line…

      I was born here and have lived here all my life. It is home. I dont want to move. I do however want a fixed link or reduced ferry fares, and I dont want to be told that I should move away by anyone.

      • Are you at all concerned that it may no longer feel or look like ‘home’ here, after a couple of years or 5 or 10 of a fixed link, woodworker?

        • It’s unlikely that everything would stay the same apart from the method of crossing the Solent. I’m thinking more traffic coming over, more traffic Island-wide, more road-widening and road systems, removal of buildings in the way, more mainlanders living here and working on the north island, more Islanders moving to the mainland (a less final-seeming decision for them), less of a concentrated sense of Island history here, (less interest in it), fewer services on the Island because we are deemed able to use them more easily in Hampshire and Dorset… And are you optimistic about the level of toll and how this would rise?

          • woodworker

            6.Jul.2013 11:19pm

            of course things would change – for the better.

            More traffic – improved roads to cope with demand
            more mainlanders living here – mainlanders and islanders are both citizens of the UK, so who cares.
            Less interest in island history – that depends on the person. some Islanders have no interest in island history, and some mainlanders do.
            Fewer services on the island – so what? we will have access to mainland services.

            So yes, a fixed link would be no worse than ferries that cost a fortune.

          • If you don’t mind about downward homogeneity with the mainland, fewer services on the Island, and (for some reason) you have confidence that toll fares will be low – ‘who cares’ indeed!

          • “more mainlanders living here and working on the north island,”

            And? What exactly is wrong with that?

            I thought from previous comments on other posts that you were against discrimination, of any kind.

            Obviously only when it suits your agenda.

          • Perhaps wait for me to answer your question, before you impute me with an ‘agenda’, Overner.

            My thinking was that it benefits the Island if many people both live here and work here – local jobs stimulating the social and financial economies of communities here.

          • woodworker

            7.Jul.2013 10:53am

            Well said Overner, although a poor choice of name. I am pretty sick of people who think mainlanders should stay there and leave the island for islanders. The island is part of britain and there is no reason why anyone should not move here if they want to. If the entire population of the mainland were black, Tryme’s attitude would be racist.

          • You were dying to crowbar something in about racism, weren’t you woodworker! However inappropriately. Rushing to set up one’s own Aunt Sally can evidently be fun. In doing so you have given an insight into your evident resentment in matters of race.

            My comments haven’t said that there is any “reason why anyone should not move here if they want to”. I will put you to the trouble of reading my post of 7th July 2.33am. I probably can’t help you further with that.

          • woodworker

            7.Jul.2013 1:07pm

            I really couldnt give a rats backside about shoehorning anything in. I simply find your attitude that Island jobs should go to people who live on the Island quite offensive, especially when many people who live on the Island work on the Mainland.
            The comparison to racism is my own. If people on the mainland were all black, your attitude would be racist. As it is, your attitude is simply offensive, selfish and wrong, but unfortunately your attitude may be shared by many because it sounds reasonable even if it isnt.

            Perhaps now you see my point here, and perhaps also you see the sheer arrogance of dragging race into subjects where it is irrelevant. I doubt it though.

          • ….er…it was you did that, woodworker. Oh, and calm down…

          • woodworker

            7.Jul.2013 2:13pm

            Yes… I never claimed I didnt.

            What a shame you cant see the reason why I did it… I was hoping to show you why I often find your attitude so disturbing by emulating it. Its a shame you can pull others up on that, but cant see that you are guilty of it yourself often.

            I am also perfectly calm. If you want to tell people to calm down go do an advert for insurance.

          • If your (convoluted) intention was to hark back to a topic of some months ago, forgive me for not making the connection!

            It would be more effective (if you must), if you dug up that topic and continued posting from there, on what is evidently a subject still burning within you, rather than confusing a new topic with an old argument. Then we would all know and see, to what exactly you were referring.

          • woodworker

            7.Jul.2013 2:43pm

            I am quite sure that even a person who appears as obtuse as you do can see the connection to this post. You want Island jobs to go to Islanders… hence discriminating against mainlanders who want to live here and work on the mainland – or even Islanders who want to live here and work on the mainland. Yes, it IS discrimination, and whatever the topic, you seem to either promote that discrimination, or jump up and down on other people who you think are discriminating but actually are not.

            It really is quite sad that you are attacking other people for pointing out a flaw in your own views rather than looking in the mirror to see that flaw within yourself. I suspect actually all you want to do is post some controversial comments and promote an argument.

          • Ho ho, very funny when that remark is coming from you and your comments on this topic, woodworker!

            As it seems to be mud-slinging you’re after, rather than dealing with posts as written, (if I am very generous, in addition to the posts as written), I’m afraid I can’t oblige. Over and out.

          • woodworker

            7.Jul.2013 3:06pm

            My intention is not to be funny at all. I genuinely believe you are discriminating when you say that Island jobs should go to Island residents only. I also genuinely believe that you are able to see or imagine discrimination from others, but are unable to see it in yourself.

            I have most definitely responded to the comments you have written here, and I had hoped to show you what your attitude is like. I am not sure if your obtuseness is genuine or a put on, but if you believe I am ‘slinging mud’ perhaps you should look up the meaning of the word. I believe that on occasion the word ‘obtuse’ genuinely sums you up, although I am far from certain if it is deliberate or not.

          • Didn’t say that.

          • woodworker

            7.Jul.2013 3:58pm

            If you really want your exact words:

            “more mainlanders living here and working on the north island,”

            The context was definitely that this would be a negative thing and that you are against it – an attitude which is discriminatory. But then you knew that all along. Didnt you. Or are you more obtuse than I thought.

          • You have just proved that I ‘didn’t say that’.

            I shan’t be looking to you as a purveyor of my ‘context’!

          • woodworker

            7.Jul.2013 8:18pm

            and you have just proven that whilst you are eager to pick up on other peoples flaws, you are completely blind to your own, and have absolutely no interest in learning about them or changing your narrow minded outlook on the world.

            What a sad existence.

          • If you carry on saying such nice, unasked-for things about me, woodworker, there is a danger that “People will say we’re in love….”

          • The seemingly constant bickering between you two is really very tiresome and doesn’t reflect well on either of you.

            You both seem to have interesting observations to add to discussions, but it gets cancelled out when you start fighting with each other.

          • You are suddenly the voice of the reasonable person Overner! Yet you made a scathing comment of me early on in this thread, and then the other main poster made a series of untrue and unpleasant remarks. I daresay you WOULD have liked me to leave it there!

            Do you walk away if this happens to you? I think I conducted myself ok. If you read the other poster’s comments by themselves, and then compare with mine by themselves, I think a reasonable person would see what I’m talking about. Some people may walk away, others tackle it, (in whatever manner).

            It makes a difference, sometimes, whether one’s own view seems to be on the ascent or not, when it comes to how annoying it is to be an observer of this sort of thing.

            When a person is intent on being unpleasant I don’t think one can truly say ‘a plague on both your houses’, as though there is something wrong with the other person defending themselves. We are not necessarily here to provide congenial entertainment for each other. Sometimes we are just standing up for ourselves.

          • woodworker

            8.Jul.2013 8:32pm

            if you truly believe I or any other poster was intent on being unpleasent to you then you really need to get out more. I have simply said it as I see it. You often have a go at other people about discrimination, yet dislike it when you are hoisted on your own petard.
            I am done with this.

        • Your invention of a ‘petard’ seems to satisfy some past grievance you have from a past thread, woodworker, (we know which one). Sorry, but there has been no hoisting or ‘discriminating’ on my part, energetically though you have pursued this chimera.

  5. Don Smith

    6.Jul.2013 10:05pm

    They once said there would never be a man on the moon.

    And did it change other locations where they have seen the benefit of a fixed link?

    Look what a difference the link across the R.Itchen has made, despite all the original objections.

    For example there are hundreds of links between Southampton and London (Put the clock back) Where would be be without them? Move with the times.

  6. Likely scenario:

    Fixed link built with cheaper fares than ferry

    Ferry companies cease trading

    Bridge owners increase fares to those of former ferry companies

    Everyone complains about the fixed link and suggest we have a ferry service for competition

    • Similar to organic foods being made available by Island business, then being sold more cheaply in Tesco, Island organic farm eventually unable to compete and goes out of business, Tesco stops selling most of their organic lines.

  7. Albert Street

    6.Jul.2013 11:10pm

    Whatever the argument, one thing is certain the Ferry Companies are killing the Island off. Should the Island attract Assisted Area Status funding it should purchase one of the Ferry companies.

    If the fixed link is an option it could be self funding by letting renewal energy companies use the bridge to generate tidal energy

  8. Draw Bridge

    6.Jul.2013 11:53pm

    Bob Blocksidge is probably correct, a bridge will never be built at least not in our lifetime. Why not? Simple finances, nobody is willing to pay for it!

    The new Forth Bridge project is costing £1.45 billion. All that for a mere 1.7 Km crossing. George Bristow, the Bembridge publican newly arrived from the mainland, thinks our bridge spanning at least twice the distance, would be cheaper at around £1 billion. Even if he is given the benefit of doubt, surely any investors will want to see a return on that billion, say a very poor 5%, so only £50 million per year. Hang on that is Wightlink’s entire revenue all going just to service the debt. What about staff, maintenance, lighting, etc. where will all that money come from? The bridge will need 2,500 cars crossing each way every day @ £30 per trip, i.e 5000 x £30 x 365, just to pay the interest . If you think the ferries are dear now , a fixed link will not be cheaper
    So it makes no difference whether you are for or against a fixed kink until somebody can explain where the finance will be coming from it will never happen and they will need to be more realistic than a mere £1 billion

    • Clearly put, Draw Bridge.

    • Don Smith

      7.Jul.2013 8:34am

      If the government can spend billions on a fast train just to save a few minutes travelling up North, blighting some beautiful countryside, and disrupting hundreds of households.

      Spending billions interfering in troubles in far off lands, it can surely meet the cost of a fixed link at no cost to the tax payer.

      Get rid of the House of Lords, and reduce the number of MPs to 500. Pay them £500.000 a year, without expenses. perks or pensions.

      Time the Royals kept themselves, and paid taxes. Come on Charlie, brush the cobwebs from you pockets.

      Now that would pay for a few fixed links, and several new hospitals.

      • kevin Barclay-Jay

        7.Jul.2013 1:03pm

        there is an economic benefit to the HS2…but none to the government of building a bridge…we have no major industry except tourism which only survives because we are an Island…

        The only feasible fixed link…(even if the fantasy of ebough money being avaialble) would be a rail link

        we still manage to coax about a million visitors a year, so, once the current economic crisis is over and there is some moeny in the pot (say 2025) then a council owned ferry with a discounted rate for residents is the only real solution. (unless Easyjet can be convinced to buy a ferry)

        • That sounds like a good plan Kevin. It would be nice to think that this Council might be able to make some kind of inroads in the meantime….

        • Don Smith

          7.Jul.2013 8:31pm

          Many places rely on tourism, and are not islands – Blackpool, just to mention one of hundreds.

          Sorry, the tourist that visit London use Tower Bridge and that’s a

          And why are there no major industries on the IoW – The ferries! Ferry costs deter industries coming and the ferries are the main reason they will close all the island’s prisons. COST!

          • If we all push together on the count of ‘3’, maybe we can manoeuvre the Island right up close, flush with Portsmouth…

  9. peaceful_life

    7.Jul.2013 8:42am

    Think energy, and carbon.

    A fixed link isn’t going to happen, develop a cultural narrative that is productive and proud to be an island, which after all…is what this little slab of rock is.

    Creativity is required, not a bridge.

  10. All this talk about a bridge always amuses me. I think most of the protesters are employers who would have to pay proper wages, or selfish people who do not need to travel to get decent work. If this crossing was multi purpose like harnessing the tidal power it could attract more funding.

    So the ‘dream’ is not impossible.

    • Draw Bridge

      7.Jul.2013 10:33am

      Not impossible just improbable.

      Decent wages?? then paying an extra £50+ per day travel costs!

      Harnessing Tidal Power, so you are now increasing the build costs by a factor of 2, 3 or more?

      When you can show who will pay these £Billions, then you can keep your “dream” alive!

  11. Robert Jones

    7.Jul.2013 7:19pm

    One of those hardy perennials … like assisted area status. The time to do this, and it should have been done then, was when we still had a rail network; a rail-only tunnel would have made sense, would have had no impact on the island’s roads, would have been environment-friendly, would have made commuting to and from the island easier, would have enabled more of our young people to stay here and benefit the island rather than forcing them to leave if they wanted any hint of a career.

    So of course we didn’t do it.

    I wouldn’t want it now, at least not unless the rail network were re-established, and more to the point no one is going to be prepared to pay for it. We don’t have the roads or the infrastructure generally to cope with a road-bridge. But what an opportunity was thrown away (largely by the Isle of Wight County Council) 50 odd years ago – we could have had all the advantages of easy connection to the mainland, retained our trains, even kept steam trains which would have been a tourist attraction in themselves (I do realize there are down-sides to that) AND we could have attracted and retained industries beyond tourism, on which we’re now excessively dependent (and slightly ludicrously so at times: see the latest wheezes about keeping the island open all year – they really do have to be joking..).

    Mr Blocksidge is right. It ain’t going to happen, and it would be disastrous if it did in present conditions. What a chance we had, though – even though the financing in the short-term would have been very difficult – and what a huge opportunity we lost.

  12. Who will pay? I suppose the same sort of people that invest telephone numbers in fracking, drilling, building power stations etc. It would just be an anchor for tidal power, the power units would have already been built for somewhere.

    £50 travel costs? How much do you think the ferries will cost by then. My accomodation used to cost that sometimes.

    Oh and decent work. Some of us were quite frustrated in our lines of work which were not availiable here, so had to travel achieve our goals. It’s not just wages for me. But those stuck on the Island rate need a boost.

  13. IF you dont ASK you dont GET.
    Now is the time to ask, and if they say no.
    Ask again, its US on the island that NEED a fixed link other wise we may as well batten down the hatch and kiss good bye to our younger generation. As more work will be moved to the north island. And the ferry companies CONTINUE to fleece US for that spit of water.

  14. It is wrong to say, “No Chance” because things can change.After all there is a population of 140,000 here and people are more assertive in their aspirations on the island these days.

    Costs do not have to be at the levels indicated as crossrail projects are technically proven to be easier than previously. There is also some expertise available in the immediate vicinity.

    I agree on most things Bob is otherwise saying when it comes to capitalist investment.

    As far as many people who discuss “fixed link” are concerned it is out of frustration over the ferries that a bridge or tunnel has been thrown into the equation.

    At the large meeting on the ferries in Newport, UNITE’S Regional Secretary,Simpson,well he thought the solution was a tunnel.There are many who hold views on this.

    To dismiss the ultimate solution to crossing to and from the mainland, as one of impossibility, does not take into consideration what might become an option at some point.

    At this moment in time, though, the problem lies squarely with the Macquarie/Wightlink and the new administration still needs to tackle it head on.They are not responding to the “Winter sailings Cuts” issue, which is once more revealing their true intentions after what they did before.

    It is absolutely right that capital only wants a guaranteed return on investment and because manufacturing is negligible there is very little added value on the island to entice them. The huge reserve of labour is either underused or unused here. Tourism is only providing a drop in the ocean in relation to the UK’s GDP.

    This is why it is necessary to secure investment funding on the IOW as well as establishing infrastructural projects.

    There is now 49 million Euros available from the European Structural funds for the regions coming from the European recent budget.Talks are due to take place on LEP’s. The Isle of Wight is going to be talking to Portsmouth and Southampton about its allocation. Let’s hope the island can secure it’s fair share for the badly needed investment. Let’s not forget, Russell Kew is still there too.

    • Draw Bridge

      8.Jul.2013 4:15pm

      Wow, 49 million Euros available! How far will that reach across the Solent?

      “Costs do not have to be at the levels indicated” When the new Forth Bridge project is costing a minimum £1.4 billion, explain why a longer bridge here would be cheaper?

      As stated earlier,until you can answer the question, who is going to finance the bridge, there is indeed NO CHANCE!

    • peaceful_life

      8.Jul.2013 4:24pm

      Capital does indeed expect a return, it’s called ‘growth’, and there’s a problem with that, there isn’t…and won’t be any. Other than white elephant, and economic Trojan horses, there’s already little to no investment in critical infrastructure, let alone aspirational mobility ventures.

      Put ‘wants’ to one side for a moment, and just look at the physics of the energy situation, and the state of social realpolitik.

      What benefits can a bridge give that the islanders cannot fulfil by themselves?…..indeed, when all things considered, one could say that a fixed link might well exacerbate an influence away from transition.

      The problem with the island, like many other places, is….it forgot it was an island, and has become dependent, this needs reversed, with some careful insightful planning and a pragmatic approach the island has a brilliant opportunity right in front of it, IF it want to see it.

      • Capital centred economy expects a return in the form of profit. Social economy does not necessarily expect a return but it can as a claim on added value. There are three claims on added value; (1) Monopoly claim
        (2) Workers’ claim in terms of wages and (3) social claim (usually government)

        Growth is separated from any return. It can be measured as GDP, GNP or GVA.

        GVA is now regarded as most reliable as it is Gross Value Added.

        As labour is the sole creator of wealth then it is the crystallization of labour in terms of quality and quantity.

        So right or wrong depends on how you see this relation and its essence.Outlook and principles of political economy depend on these factors and pragmatism does not.

        Whether something is beneficial or not can also be considered from the standpoint of whether it contributes towards the well being of workers or capitalists or not.

        Dependency is an interesting question. Who is dependent on who? Can the capitalist live without the workers? The answer is no. Can the workers live without the capitalist? The answer is yes.

        Are the islanders dependent on the government? Answer, the government (and monopolies) take more out of the economy than they put in.

  15. peaceful_life

    10.Jul.2013 9:25am

    That’s a lot of hypothesising, Thomas, but it’s not the here and now.

    You need to go beyond the anthropocentric in order to take a base line of economic drivers.

    Right or wrong, needs recognised in a broader view, is it ‘right’ that we consume our own habitat to the point of detriment?…….I think that’s fairly obvious, yet..that’s the modus operadi, moreover..we ignore this fact and confine our views to the anthropocentric again.

    Again, we need to redefine/remember exactly what beneficial means, and we are NOT ‘workers’, we are an advanced species, capable of being keepers of the light, or…if you will, recognising that photosynthesis as the sole creators of wealth, which is yet another word that needs redefined, the best things in life are free, until our operating systems commoditise them.

    Who is it that ‘regards’ GVA as ‘reliable’?…Bhutan doesn’t, and neither do I, we need a bigger conversation than received wisdom can offer.

    We are all dependent on the stories we tell ourselves as a cultural narrative, as it stands…the islanders are as utterly dependent on the malfunctions of the existing one as everyone else in the industrialised economies.

    We got the numbers wrong.

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