Red Funnel boss: ‘Effectively East Cowes regeneration is no more’

After hearing that Isle of Wight Planning Committee had rejected Red Funnel’s planning application for East Cowes, the company’s boss laid out a very dark future.

East Cowes Regeneration is no more

In a near-four hour planning meeting this evening, the planning application by Red Funnel to carry out major alterations to the East Cowes terminal and surrounding area has reached an unexpected conclusion.

The surprise: The council’s planning committee voted to reject it.

“Regeneration in East Cowes is no more”
Speaking to the media after the meeting, the boss of Red Funnel, Kevin George, was asked for his reaction, “It’s really disappointing for East Cowes and really disappointing for the Island”.

He went on to paint a dark future for East Cowes, at various times using the phrases, “My concern is that East Cowes Regeneration is no more”, “Effectively East Cowes regeneration is no more” and “On the basis of tonight’s decision there is no East Cowes regeneration now”.

Scale down Southampton terminal
Kevin George went on to say that as things stood, Red Funnel would continue their move in Southampton, but they would down scale their planned terminal there, if the extra traffic couldn’t be handled by the Island end.

He said,

“It makes no sense for us to have a large terminal in Southampton and a constrained terminal in East Cowes. If we don’t think that we can resolve the issues here in East Cowes, then we’ll have to consider down-scaling the size of the terminal in Southampton. That will probably mean a new planning application and therefore delays into that.

“We’d still move, but wouldn’t need to the size of terminal that we’re planning.”

He warned, “The £3.7m of Solent Gateway funding is at risk”, concluding that the company would now go away and consider if they would appeal.

Read the live coverage
If you want the full blow-by-blow account of what happened at the meeting, you can read our Live coverage of this evening’s debate on Red Funnel planning application.

Tuesday, 12th April, 2016 9:16pm



Filed under: East Cowes, Ferry, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News, Top story, Tourism

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

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51 Comments on "Red Funnel boss: ‘Effectively East Cowes regeneration is no more’"

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What a mealy mouthed response from Kevin George, as CEO of a company that has a major presence on the Island, it would have been nice if he had said. ” obviously our current plan is not acceptable to the Island. We want to grow our company so to do that we will go away work with all stakeholders again and find a solution that is acceptable…but… Read more »
Vix Lowthion
So it’s Red Funnel bulldozing homes and turfing out thriving businesses – or nothing? I want to see regeneration of East Cowes – real regeneration with a mix of homes and shops, boat building and heritage. Red Funnel do not need to dominate the town – their plans failed on grounds that they were not a strong enough economic case. If they present plans with a sound… Read more »

The Island does deserve better.

Much better.

With the ferries providing such an essential service, we shouldn’t be allowing privateers such as Red Funnel and Wight Link to hold islanders and visitors to ransom.

The aim of public transport should be the transportation of the public. Not profit.

Shouldn’t such vital services be held in common for everyone by the state?

Diogenes's Barrel
Perhaps Mr George would now like to train some of his staff to manage the two enormous car marshalling yards Red Funnel already possess (having decimated East Cowes town businesses on previous occasions) so that ALL of the lanes are used effectively and not just a single lane and the blocked length of York Avenue. Red Funnel’s car marshalling arrangements are a joke that needs to stop… Read more »
Amber light
Thank goodness common sense has prevailed and some respect for the ,people and businesses of East Cowes. A victory for the little Man against the bully corporate who doesn’t care that peoples homes would be lost. Even offering a poultry sum on householders and trying to force CPO … I agree with Vix Lowthion here yes we want to see regeneration ..for the good of all ,something… Read more »
Steven Goodman

Again; no shortage of good (and free) advice.

Why not build up, and why not add planting?


A fixed link would not need a martialling yard!


Chickens for the householders ?

Jeremy Pocock

We need lower cost, more frequent services.
Make better use of current marshalling yards and add a second level if really necessary.
RF should fund a foot bridge or underpass to replace the pelican crossing which causes hold ups during unloading.


Surely the double ramp that was proposed would speed thing up enabling quicker turn rounds, which in turn could lead to more frequent ferries and lower costs?


How do you come to that conclusion?
I think the plans would have simply put more cars on East Cowes roads quicker, resulting in snarl ups on the ferry approach roads.

East Cowes
Kevin George is just scaremongering. All of the people of East Cowes want REAL regeneration, on a large scale, but not letting Red Funnel do a land grab for their own benefit whilst also kicking out a bunch of quality island marine businesses. A private company should not be in charge of planning East Cowes’ regeneration; the people should be in charge. This plan was for Red… Read more »
What Red Funnel seem to be missing is that the regeneration of a whole town is NOT dependent on nicer ferry terminal facilities. Regeneration is not at all dependent on one logistics company, when there are numerous Island-based employers in that town who are thriving and trying to avoid being bullied by a single, large, non-Island-based company, owned by a pension fund. The only crass part of… Read more »

Kevin George’s regeneration perception would have been the Island maritime engineering devastation.


It’s very unfortunate that Red Funnel is so uncompromising. It’s just not sustainable, they should start listening to what islanders are saying, and stop believing their own rhetoric.

Red Flannels’ toys are out of the pram, Hooray!! Maybe they will return with more realistic solution. As for Jeremy Pococks’ comment on the pedestrian crossing. The crossing serves as a traffic control, to allow the residents of East Cowes to access York Avenue and the rest of the island when the ferry is off loading. Drivers coming from the north island seem to have forgotten how… Read more »

This is an unwarranted slur on the driving standards of mainland dwellers. I might point out that a huge percentage of island drivers do not use a roundabout properly.
REFRESH – give way to traffic on the right, NOT THE LEFT.

Darren Irving

Trouble is the so called islanders you mentioned are probably imported from the north island anyway!

P.s giving way to traffic from the left at a roundabout could be seen as being courteous to other drivers!


Darren Irving – And a hazard to those who use the roundabouts properly.

Darren Irving

If you were any sort of driver you’d be able to negotiate through it Dave


So Darren, you advocate breaking the law then?

Darren Irving
Get a grip dave, are you one of those this is my vehicle, my space on the road? everybody should be more courteous on the roads, it would make it a lot safer, I guess you would barrel on ahead regardless, just because a rule says you can, now that is how accidents happen, if you don’t already, try riding a motorcycle or bicycle on the road.… Read more »
Sorry Darren but I still believe you are being irresponsible in suggesting that laws set out in the Highway Code should be ignored. They were put there for a reason, that being to make the roads a safer place to drive on. Also I would point out that anticipation of other drivers actions is an essential driving skill and that has nothing to do with courtesy. Courtesy… Read more »
Darren Irving
I didn’t actually state they should be ignored, but the simple fact is they are! Every day! I will carry on being extra careful as I have done for years. Thank goodness for our dashcam and my bikecam, I will always have a record of our riding/driving should I need it! My attitude will not cause an accident but maybe your style of I am going to… Read more »

I too have a dashcam which can tell a story or two. I guess you must have had a few hairy experiences on your bike. As an ex-cyclist myself I can relate to that. However, your philosophy is counterproductive. I reckon we will have to agree to differ on our views as I am now signing off this debate. (I need to follow later news items)

Darren Irving

Indeed Dave I’ve seen and rewatched many things, luckily for most I’ve witnessed that I am not a facebooker or any such like they would have been viral by now!
Yes I see your point Dave, I’m intelligent enough to do that!
The world would be so uninteresting if we were all the same!
Best of luck-stay safe!

the auditor
Oh dear. Mr George is vexed. He has tossed his teddy out of the pram and opened his mouth before engaging his brain. Planning applications are handled in accordance with a set of complex rules and planners are obliged to take note of legitimate objections of which there were many. Red Funnel have a history of heavy handed tactics and were probably confident of winning approval for… Read more »

Would have wound up the same as Town Quay Southampton regeneration scheme with over half the site still unoccupied, and how many years has that been there?

Peter Geach
East Cowes is an unsuitable location for an expanded Ferry Service. Red Funnel needs East Cowes more than East Cowes needs Red Funnel. Perhaps Mr George now sees this and will look again at discussing proposals put forward by East Cowes residents who dusted off the SEEDA town plan to bring it up to date with the proposed Red Funnel development. It was drawn up by an… Read more »
Tony Hagan
Mr George should consider resigning. He has led his company into a cul-de-sac. All businesses, council, red funnel and the public should be involved int a revised scheme. The fact that red funnel produced a plan of buildings to be demolished before the owners were even aware shows the contempt that Mr George had for all involved. His position is untenable. They need someone with a more… Read more »
Whilst the residents plan can be used as a starting point it still removed all of the business units on VQ as in discussions with Red Funnel we believed them when they said that the businesses would have to move and were unviable. The houses were also gone as we had been informed about the CPO and told that the residents were aware. However after the disastrous… Read more »
Peter Geach
Wightwitch’s comments regarding revising the E.C. residents plan are very interesting. Here is a great opportunity for VQ businesses, the houses and businesses in Dover Road, the EC Business association, East Cowes Town Council, Planning and Red Funnel to ALL sit around the table and thrash something out that is both viable for the town and Red Funnel. It would need progress and comment meetings open to… Read more »
Steve Goodman
I was surprised and disappointed by the “E.Cowes regeneration is no more” reaction of the Red Funnel CEO to the justifiable rejection of a plan which needlessly threatened so many skilled jobs, thriving businesses, and people’s homes. Those of us wanting and working for improvement and regeneration in the town and further afield would reasonably expect RF and all other parties involved to recognise that the available… Read more »
Darren Irving

Not that I am looking to shoot your plans down Steve, but, the roof garden/restaurant/café is your idea to have those top level on a tiered marshalling yard scenario?
Just trying to visualise such a building.

Darren Irving

Steve – I’m interested in the idea of something like this:

The Oasis of Aboukir green wall

Or maybe this: Pompidou-inspired car park by JAJA Architects to feature planted facade and rooftop park

Anywhere near what you were thinking?

Steve Goodman

Yes; there’s no shortage of inspiration and example, from cheap and easy ivy options upwards.

Steve Goodman

I’d expect the lorries, trailers, and so on to use the ground level, and to add one or more upper decks for cars – and optional planting/ cafe/ restaurant/ playground/ cinema/ pool or whatever RF are prepared to come up with if they genuinely want to do something worthwhile about ‘regeneration’.


Is there a prize for being the first person to add a comment using the phrase “fixed link”?


Yes. A down arrow !


Yes – up arrow

Wendy cook

How was a bankrupt Council going to fund a compulsory purchase court case? There was no other decision they could make! Yet another ‘economic’ decision!

Luisa Hillard

All costs would have been met by Red Funnel.

Morris Barton O.B.E.

I would hope that a renegotiation along the lines of the original SEEDA outline in 2007
would still be possible.

As a long time resident and councillor in East Cowes it would be disappointing
if our regeneration is abandoned and Cowes forged ahead at our expense

No East Cowes voting member on planning and three from Cowes area?

What now for Medina Yard?


I wonder what costs the Council will have to pay when Red Funnel successfully appeal this crass decision made by councillors against the very clear advice of professional planning officers.

Vix Lowthion

It doesn’t sound like fighting talk from Kevin George here. Usually they say ‘we will appeal’. I am sure they will, but he didn’t sound like he was 100% sure to do it. The motion to reject it on economic grounds is actually a strong one.

Steve Goodman

I wonder what it cost RF to pay for their crass plan and unsuccessful application against the very clear advice from many professional and private people more concerned about our Island economy, environment, and enjoyment than a small number of our apparently mistaken public employees.

Rod Manley

The Greens and their anarchist friends along with the Council have screwed it up. Our one chance of a little bit of inward investment. What are you going to say now to Greg Clark when he comes down? You were offered a bit of Assisted Area Status money too! What will the Local Enterprise say as well? My goodness you are going to look foolish.

? Are Con. Cllr. Richard Hollis and the other saviours Greens and/or anarchists? How is protecting our skilled jobs, successful businesses, and homes, against an unneeded greedy land grab ‘screwing up’? Why should such an outrageous and damaging scheme be thought of as representing the sole opportunity for investment? Could we not ask Mr Clark what he and his government friends are going to do about not… Read more »

Has the Isle of Wight Council got full control of the situation?

Rod Manley

You obviously still have no idea how this funding works. You’ve blown it Mr Goodman and it will come back to haunt some of you.

You seem to think the funding will only come if we bend over for red funnel. I would rather see the council keep its principles and high skilled jobs in East Cowes. Red funnel could redesign easily on their existing site, but won’t do that because it means closing parts of the site while it gets developed and having to adjust their operations. Kevin George has tried… Read more »