Island Labour notes the announcement by Wightlink that they are intending to raise prices by up to 100% for Islanders driving down Ryde Pier.
Wightlink claim this is necessary to maintain the pier, noting they have spent £2.6m maintaining the pier in the last nine years, or an average of some £288k per year.
Wightlink’s profit in 2017/18 was £13.8m. Wightlink voted to pay a dividend to shareholders in 2017/18 of £15.3m.
Critchley: Naked exploitation of a captive market
Island Labour Chair, Julian Critchley, himself a Ryde resident, said:
“There is no excuse for this. It is naked exploitation of a captive market by a monopoly provider. This company makes tens of millions of pounds in profit every year. Last year alone, it paid its shareholders £15m in dividends.
“To then seek to justify 100% price rises on ordinary residents of the Island, because of an annual maintenance cost of £288k per year is ridiculous and contemptuous of Islanders.
“Maintaining the pier isn’t a gift to Islanders. It’s the way in which Wightlink maintain their enormous profits, because without the pier, the Fastcat wouldn’t be able to take on passengers. To argue that every Islander should have to pay even more so that this profiteering company can continue to make disproportionate profits is a bad joke.”
Ferry companies must be regulated
He went on to say,
“Wightlink, and Red Funnel, have exploited Islanders for far too long. The next Labour government will introduce regulation to prevent them continuing to treat this Island as their own corporate magic money tree.
“In the longer term, we will seek to nationalise the ferry companies along with the national railway network, so that our cross-Solent lifeline is run in the interests of Islanders, and not in the interests of the ferry company shareholders.”
Image: © With kind permission of Allan Marsh