This news is shared with OnTheWight by Carl Feeny of Pro-Link. Ed
Pro-Link Chair, Carl Feeney, has met with Lord Adonis at Westminster, seeking fixed-link study funding.
The meeting came subsequent to the ex-Minister of Transport tweeting his consternation while attempting to cross the Solent recently, disrupted in both directions.
Mr Feeney said,
“Lines of communication regarding cross-Solent transport issues have been ongoing with Lord Adonis since his visit to the Isle of Wight.”
£100k Feasibility Study
After five years of consultation, Pro-Link has developed a proposal for an IOW fixed link, dubbed the ‘Solent Freedom Tunnel’. Infrastructure experts ARUP have offered to perform a £100,000 (plus VAT) viability study into the scheme, which would qualify as a ‘National Infrastructure Project’.
Mr Feeney continued,
“A personal meeting at Westminster with Lord Adonis was deemed appropriate, along with representation from ARUP”
In 2017, the fully Independent ‘IOW Transport Infrastructure Taskforce’ made strong recommendations for a ‘fixed link feasibility study’. The Taskforce had been commissioned by the IOW Council and chaired by highly respected Christopher Garnett OBE.
Mr Feeney explained
“Lord Adonis is astonished that the IOW Council has neglected to implement such an important recommendation.
“The IOW MP – Bob Seely since being elected, has curtailed the Taskforce, effectively blocking the study, while also setting up a new IOW Transport Board instead, that includes Red Funnel and Wightlink as stakeholders.
“The MP’s cousin, Patrick Seely, is now a non-executive director of Red Funnel also. While these ferry companies are in control, the MP’s Transport Board is unlikely to support a study that could create radical competition to them.”
Reliant on public funding
Pro-Link has been forced instead into public fundraising for the study while the IOW Council and MP are refusing to request local or central government payment sources.
“Sadly, even though Lord Adonis has assured help when possible, the meeting at Westminster concluded with him unable to assist study funding until the IOW Council and MP requests it. He has stated publicly already his bewilderment of such an inept IOW MP, who has obstructed the study.
“This negligence by the MP and Council, is also thwarting Island business leaders and others from donating to a study. They are aware that positive study conclusions could similarly be ignored, as has happened with the IOW Infrastructure Taskforce recommendations.
“Potential donors feel the Council and MP would still ignore further investigations. I personally believe though, that the study conclusions will be so persuasive, the MP’s obstructive position will be rendered untenable.”
Feeney: Quitting is not an option
Carl Feeney concluded,
“Every independent poll held in the last five years gives overwhelming support for a fixed link study.
“The campaign to facilitate cross-Solent freedom will continue for as long as it takes… with whatever it takes.
“Quitting is not an option.”