MCA suspends floating bridge

The new floating bridge was subject to several problems over the weekend and following an approach from the MCA the service has been suspended this morning.

disembarking the floating bridge - karl love

At the weekend, the new floating bridge went into public use. There was much excitement as drivers and foot passengers took some of the first journeys.

However, it wasn’t all smiles and cheers. As cars disembarked from the bridge (not even at low tide), many of them struggled to do so without badly scraping the front of the vehicles. As it was such a public event, of course photos and videos were shared widely on social media.

embarking the floating bridge -

In addition, during service on Sunday morning, the floating bridge lost power whilst it had passengers on board and they were stranded in the Medina for some time.

Foot passengers had to wade through knee-high water to get to land and the drivers had to wait until the engineer fixed the problem.

Taken out of service
Today (Monday), after being approached by the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA), the council have suspended the floating bridge service.

They say,

“The council is consulting with the MCA to confirm that all issues have been resolved necessary for the service to resume.

“The electrical fault that caused issues on Sunday has since been identified and fixed.

“It was anticipated that during the first couple of weeks, that there would be a few minor issues to be ironed out, some of which could not be identified until the vessel was back in service and in full use.”

Call for full investigation
Cllr Julia Baker-Smith, Member for Whippingham and Osborne and Leader of the Island Independents,

“I’m absolutely furious that there are problems with the new floating bridge. The people of East Cowes fought hard to retain this service, which looked like it could be lost completely back in 2013. We have waited far longer than we should have for it to come into service, with the resultant impact on the local economy and an estimated 20% drop in footfall to East Cowes Businesses.

“There was almost a carnival atmosphere when we boarded the new vessel Saturday afternoon and it was greeted by cheers on the East Cowes side, but the atmosphere soon turned when we came to realise there were apparent problems with the angle at which cars disembark.

“My family were in the first car to scrape its bumper as they drove off on the East Cowes side. To now learn that it has broken down with passengers on board is unacceptable.

“We are calling for a full investigation into why these problems have occurred and for those responsible to be held to account. There is obviously a lot of speculation as to how and why these problems have come about and you expect one or two teething troubles with anything new, but this seems to be more than teething trouble and the Council must get to bottom of what is happening and demand that it is rectified at no cost to Island tax payers.

“On behalf of East Cowes businesses I will also be calling for a dispensation on business rates to compensate those impacted by this prolonged disruption to their footfall.”

New bridge was tested with vehicles
The council spokesperson went on to say,

“During the preceding week, the new vessel underwent testing, including trips across the river Medina, embarkation and disembarkation with vehicles.

“It had always been anticipated that, as with any new vehicle, there would be a period of time for staff and users to become used to its operation. We would encourage all vehicle users to drive slowly onto and off of the floating bridge.

“We would like thank those involved in the issues encountered over the weekend for their patience and understanding, and to our staff for helping to enable passengers to disembark while the vessel was inoperable.”

Safety concerns
Karl Love, Isle of Wight councillor East Cowes, told OnTheWight,

“I’m very concerned at what looked like a disaster in the miscalculation of the road angles which are damaging low level cars and long based vehicles. They scrape the ground as they load and unload from East Cowes.

“I understand several car owners are already planning to make claims against the council for damage, meanwhile cars continue to be loaded on board.

“There’s a catalogue of risks. Protruding bolts on the shelter footing causing trip points. Glass without any safety harm prevention messages printed on them as people may walk straight into them.

“One might ask to see the risk assessment and safety certificate issued for all the structures and vessel before it entered service.

“Then there is the issue of the location of the East Cowes ticket machine which has being located under householders windows and on land the IWC does not own.”

Image: © Karl Love

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below must comply with the Commenting 'House Rules' and are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

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30 Comments on "MCA suspends floating bridge"

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Phil Jordan
Having sat opposite, engaged with and came to witness the internal machinations of the conservative group it was very evident that they were ( and remain) a disparate and uncohesive group that surpassed ( and surpasses) by a big margin any perceived ‘fractures’ within the Independent group. In reality, once the egoist left along ( taking his partner) with the absolute disrupter ( continuing to disrupt out… Read more »

It is fairly clear where the political sympathies of the IWCP lie when you look at their spread on the General Election candidates in last weeks edition.

Seely was given more column space than all of the other candidates put together.

So we can guess what Whitehouse’s “choice of media” will be.

Phil Jordan

I noticed that again today (page 23) where Seeley and JJE had prominence on the page – with images – whilst the labour and lib dems were sat underneath. All had about 200 words in the piece but there was a very clear prominence and emphasis on the conservative and JJE (mainly because of position and image inclusion).

The greens were not included on the page.


Will ‘On the Wight’ be investigating the statements made above by Karl Love?

If the ticket machine is indeed on land not owned by the council is it by agreement and is there rent to be paid?

His points about safety are well made and pertinent.

Looking at the photographs of the car disembarking it seems incompetent that known angles of the ramp cause damage to cars.



We’ve heard of it.

But, hey, why let a little thing like basic maths get in the of anything.

We’d rather cough up compensation for damaged vehicles and suffer massive public ridicule.

Billy Builder

You can’t believe experts with their sneaky mathematics, just ask the BRexiteers.

Reading through various articles on this yesterday, (including some brief coverage in the nationals) and the comments above, I cannot understand if the ferry was back in operation yesterday lunch time, what has been done to rectify the loading ramp issues – was the problem on Sunday due to tides, or is this a permanent problem for the foreseeable future? IWC don’t seem to have mentioned this… Read more »
Phil Jordan
Tyke: There were many many successes that the Independent administration delivered. Juxtaposed to the abject tenure of the previous conservative administration that simply failed. That cannot be said of the Independent administration. I think you’ll find that many factors came together to unseat our Members and that included paper candidates, split voting across labour, lib-dems and greens – always helpful to the conservatives – the demise of… Read more »

The problem is not that the floating bridge is “dodgy”, but that the design of the loading/unloading ramps (or the slipways?) has not been thought through properly.

The important questions are :-

1. What is going to be done to sort it?

2. Who is going to pay for it?

Answers anyone?????


who is the officer in change….. they would have been in charge of the project not the councillliors

I understand that one of the first things you learn on day one of a Vehicle Recovery Course is that two opposing angles do not work when loading, so maybe the person who was involved in organising the extending of the concrete approach slipways should enrol on such a course themselves. Or at least consult with Island based recovery companies such as ‘Stag Lane Motors’ or ‘Bartletts… Read more »

Hear hear to your last statement Braveheart. Clearly far too simple for the numptie who designed this though


Sorry charge !


It looks like the collective editorial staff at the CP are the latest group to fail to recognise the success story that is the new floating bridge. They should have asked Phil for the truth.


This has all the hallmarks of a shambles. Given that the whole thing was commissioned on the watch of the Independents then the only question is why anyone should be surprised. Rather than waste time and money on an investigation, can’t Cllr JBS simply ask her former colleague who was responsible for the whole project?


What has leaving the EU got to do with this story,i think people are getting sick off your posts that do not relate to the story WE LEFT GET OVER IT

Steve Goodman

We didn’t actually; we are still in for nearly two years at least. Get over it!


Ex-cllrs Bacon, Jordan, Hillard, Stubbings etc have all gone rather quiet on this one.
Naturally they are no longer public figures and there’s no compulsion on them to justify the actions of their previous administration but it would be nice to have some insight on what has gone on here. This was, after all, a flagship project wasn’t it?

Phil Jordan
I’m very proud to have been part of a successful administration that (amongst other things) secured the funding for this vessel. Especially as we discovered, the conservatives left us with no plan and no money set aside to replace the vessel in 2013. Contrary to their assertions to many residents in the run up to the 2013 elections. I’m not sure how you think Councillors work but… Read more »

Teflon man is alive and well, not my fault, it was the officers…. makes me wonder why you were even there.

Steve Goodman

To help: Phil was there largely in response to the routine behaviour of too many politicians disappointing the electorate after a while in office, he’s right about what he says above about the responsibilities in relation to this subject etc., and he is still one of the Islander’s most useful but underused assets in relation to knowledge and understanding of the PFI road contract.

Billy Builder

Phil didn’t desigh the floating bridge. I is a design issue and has nothing to do with those that commissoned the work.


ok, so if I commission and spend your hard earned council tax buying a ramp that is unusable to a majority of drivers, that is fine is it? talk about waste! not fit for purpose. where does the buck stop?

Billy Builder

If you get an architect to design an extension and a builder to build it, is it your fault if when built it falls down. No, you go back to the builder and the potentially to the architect. It would only be your fault is you asked for a rabbit hutch when you wanted a palace

yes it is my fault. As happened when I asked an architect for a building 3 metres wide, meaning 3 metres internally, but he assumed 3 metres externally – I wasn’t explicit, he assumed, my fault. if you go to the showroom for a range rover and come back with a mini, it isn’t the salesman’s fault it is yours. If you need a ramp to allow… Read more »
Billy Builder

Sorry, I didn’t realise the Independent councillors were naval architects – silly me

Everyone knows how it works, Phil. Councillors take the credit when things go right, officers carry the can when it doesn’t. You may have a cheerleader in the ever-loyal Mr Goodman but the fact is the Island electorate saw the Indies for what they were – chancers who offered no solutions to the issues they campaigned on to get elected. The dodgy floating bridge is a fitting… Read more »
Come on Phil, I have to challenge this revisionism. The Independents were not cohesive, they fell apart when your leadership resigned partly because of internal tensions. Secondly, and for whatever reason/s, Independents were trounced. The ballot box verdict was clearly that the previous regime was not successful. Thirdly you may argue over the term ‘dodgy’ but the facts remain: the floating bridge was late in delivery, it… Read more »
Phil. For the record, Luisa Hillard, Jonathan Bacon, yourself and Gordon Kendall all lost their seats. That is half the cabinet and some of the highest profile Indies swept away. Added to that are your good friends Cllrs Priest and Gilbey and not to mention Roger Whitby-Smith. You may not see that as a trouncing of the Indy experiment – pretty much every dispassionate observer will. And… Read more »