Wightlink’s new owners must improve service for Islanders says Labour candidate

Stewart Blackmore was amongst other prospective parliamentary candidates who met with Wightlink bosses last week.

Stewart Blackmore and Russell Kew

This in on behalf of IW Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate, Stewart Blackmore. Ed

Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate, Stewart Blackmore, met Wightlink’s Chief Executive Russell Kew on Friday to discuss the current situation in relation to the ferries and the implications of the takeover of Wightlink by the Balfour Beatty Limited Liability Partnership.

Stewart Blackmore said,

“I am relieved that at least Wightlink has been taken over by a long-term investor rather than an asset stripping organisation, but the new owners must put improving the service for Islanders first.

“I was pleased to learn that Wightlink are working on valuable initiatives such as through ticketing between the buses and the ferries.

“The Island depends on the ferries and a Labour Government will ensure that public service obligations are in force throughout the transport system – rail, buses and ferries.”

Tuesday, 24th February, 2015 10:36am


ShortURL: http://wig.ht/2cP1

Filed under: Election, Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Politics, Top story

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41 Comments on "Wightlink’s new owners must improve service for Islanders says Labour candidate"

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They must halve the cost for islanders.

Vix Lowthion

Wightlink were busy on friday with us all!

I look forward to working with Wightlink to improve the USP of the island, to invest in low carbon ferries that will last us the next 30 years, and safeguard our future public transport infrastructure.

I await Mr McKie’s report with interest.

Anon Again

And @vix we await your report with interest. Unless I have missed it – all I can find is your comments on this press release from Stewart Blackmore, nothing substantial?

Vix Lowthion

Hi Anon Again. I really didn’t think people would be interested! I’ll write something in the next 24 hrs.

Vix Lowthion

But I don’t think OTW need another ‘PPC meets WL’ story. Will put on my site.

Anon Again

I was just wondering why, when you hadn’t put a report up yourself, you were speculating as to whether the UKIP candidate would! Good work from Stewart getting this report in first so it isn’t just “another PPC meets WL” story. Vix – I totally agree that “me too-ism” isn’t best strategy – will take a look at your site to see your report.

Vix Lowthion
This was the second report on the same subject from a PPC. I was unsure that the public would be interested in another one – especially because it’s clear that Wightlink have done the right thing and reached out to us all! I’m sure that Ian Stephens sees them regularly too as a member of SLEP. I did not know of the public interest on our takes… Read more »
Anon Again

I have only seen Stewart Blackmore’s report on here – but I don’t follow every single post so things get missed :)


WL and these PPC’s.Southern Vectis next?

Vix Lowthion

I’ve met with SV off my own initiative already.


Who is going to do Hovertravel, maybe the Trains?

Vix Lowthion

I may have to give up my day job ;) No wonder over half of Parliament took a pay cut to get there. Standing as an MP takes time that mainly only the rich or the retired can have.


I know it’s not site etiquette to praise ferry companies but I think Wightlink has done well to reach out to politicians.
Any move that helps engender informed, fact-based debate on this important and emotive issue is good for democracy. So well done, Mr Kew.
Thanks for the reports too Vix and Stewart.

Sally Perry

‘Castlewez’ said: “I know it’s not site etiquette to praise ferry companies”

Completely unfounded accusation.

No candidate has been forceful enough over the issues so far. Stewart has probably been the best so far. The green and environmentalist issue has always raised secondary issues on this on the back of complaints that islanders have made. A publicly run service is probably only going to solve the problem in the final analysis. Yet the costs for island travellers is the main issue. Second… Read more »
Vix Lowthion
Quite. But Wightlink are not going to agree to those things – certainly not in a 60 minute meeting. Wightlink are running a private transport business without subsidies or regulations (unlike our railways). There are ways to get more public say and discounted ferries – but these need long term political solutions and subsidies and regulation. Wightlink see the ferry crossing as a business – if the… Read more »
Stewart Blackmore

Vix, my meeting lasted nearly two hours and the PR here was a précis.

We talked about a lot and agree shout some ideas, some of which I will be looking to developing during the campaign.


A fair assessment by Vix, methinks.
Mat – you come on here with the same old rhetoric. Time and tome again.
A serious question for you. Why don’t you and your union organisation seek a meeting with Wightlink while they are in receptive mode. You never know, some good may come out it.
Alternatively you can keep up your impotent rage.


Has he got a union organisation?

Get some people with a bit of clout to talk to them. Prospective parliamentarians are just electioneering and the ferry companies are not afraid of any outcome when the next MP cannot deliver. It takes the heat off of them. Get all the festival organisers to tell them lower the prices all year round or we will go elsewhere. Then instead of just listening they might start… Read more »
Stewart Blackmore
RJC, someone with a bit of clout? Could you possibly mean Andrew Turner or, to a lesser degree, Ian Stephens,who were ostensibly the two most powerful politicians on the Island? And whose joint efforts have come to – not very much at all. If I am the next MP, despite what you say, I may very well be in a ‘position to deliver’. Michael Dugher has recently… Read more »
Some one with a bit of clout, does not include local councillors or MP’s. Somebody with a bit of clout are people the ferries rely on for their profits. Like my example of festival organisers etc. The ferry inquiries are swept under the mat. Shareholders in high places I suspect. Labour have never done anything since privatisation and I don’t expect them to do anything in the… Read more »
Stewart Blackmore

The problem with that argument is that the festival organizers and the ferry companies have a mutual benefit in keeping prices high so I don’t think that, for example, John Giddings is going to blockade any ferry terminals.

He could of course correct me on that.

Oh C’mon Vix, mend thy speech a little, it’s not just a question of putting green petrol in. This issue over the fares and timetables has been going on for ages. Wightlink never responded. ..And as for running it as a business, this is our road, our link to the mainland not a cash cow for your rich shareholders! If I were you Vix, I would go… Read more »
Vix Lowthion
Milly – I’m not defending the status quo, merely explaining why an hour or so with the CEO of Wightlink isn’t going to reap immediate results. They are a business. We let our ferries be sold off in the early 80s as a private business with no regulation as a public service. Speaking nicely to Wightlink can only go so far. It’s useful! And necessary to have… Read more »

Fair enough Vix, now go away and come back with better policies.


Milly, the only thing I’ve seen the RMT do is drive up Wightlink’s costs with inflation busting pay rises!

Surely one of the ways in reducing ticket costs will be for Wightlink to become more efficient. Compare the Fast Cat to Red Jet or Hovertravel and both of the later manage to run their services with fewer staff and therefore tend to offer more competitive fares.

Anon Again
I know Peteiow – we could just run Wightlink with volunteers! Save all the trouble of paying people and then them getting all unreasonable and asking for a pay rise. Always fancied wearing a high-vis vest and I think the hat would really suit me. Who’s in with me? I could do a bit of Road Crossing Patrol duty in my free time (similar uniform) and then,… Read more »

@Anon Again,Then been told that you are not looking for a paid job.

A rather facetious response from Anon Again. I didn’t suggest run it with volunteers, I questioned why Hovertravel and Red Jet provide a similar service perfectly safely and to be honest with a better customer service with less people. A pay rise is of course not unreasonable but is an above inflation pay rise reasonable in the present climate? Is it not double standards of unions to… Read more »
Rod Manley

Mat, I’ve been a union man all my life and a shop steward in the biggest places. There are people who have always tried to shut us up for one reason or another.I’m sure you know all this.Don’t worry more are listening. Keep going. Someone has got to speak up for the working man these days. Labour has quit.

Wightlink must be nearly wetting themselves over all of the free publicity spending a few hours with all of these impotent PPCs has got them here. What’s sad is that it seems none of them have realised that Wightlink have sat down with the current MP and probably those before him to have a chat about their fares on a regular basis. It costs them only time… Read more »

I find it hard to argue against your sentiments and logic, Thomas.I only hope that the candidates take them on board.

Of course the fares for Islanders should be fairer , after all there is little choice if you need to get to the mainland. But as a mere grockle who travels with my family several times a year to that beautiful Island, the fares also can be a great limiter. Many people who we have enthused to stay on the Island later say they saw how expensive… Read more »
Vix Lowthion
Agree with this ^^^. I left the island in a car twice for the whole of 2014. I just cannot justify the cost. And I am lucky that it’s just seeing my parents and my childrens’ grandparents that are at stake – and not my business. I am often reminded by others that British Rail and Telecom etc were poor. But they were accountable and run for… Read more »
And what benefit did it bring us when all these public services were accountable to us? None, they were bureaucratic monoliths with no reason to up their game as they were protected from competition and had the safety net of the tax payer to fall back on. Public services are left to the whims of politicians who cannot see beyond the next election. Politicians have a difficult… Read more »

All very interesting reading about the PPCs’ opinions of Wighlink, but I would love to hear the opinion of the Wightlink Execs with respect to the competencies demonstrated by each PPCs that they have met :-)

Of course it is in our own hands to do something about it. A few hundred people blockading the ferries on the festival weekend. Chained and padlocked together, exercising your right to protest. Properly organised it would highlight the situation through the news generated. Make somebody sit up and listen. Real anarchistic stuff, the fine would only be cheaper than a ferry fare, but the satisfaction would… Read more »
Block Aid
Blockading would achieve nothing, simplist method is just to use WL one month then RF the next. If everybody boycotted them a month at a time fares would drop within a week. Simples, March = Red Funnel, April = Wightlink etc. Would you do it? not a chance you just pay the fares and carry on muttering under your breath and the companies know it!
Nice idea Blockaid but I don’t use Wightlink, they are too expensive.I would be stuck on the island for six months every year. Ask the French if blockading the ports achieves nothing. Sorry Steve Goodman there are a quite a few that would, but nowhere near enough.I was generally making the point that most are very comfortable thankyou and generally not really interested in revolt. Point making… Read more »
Steve Goodman
Nobody? Three years ago we started guerrilla gardening at Frank James because we refused to accept the ‘nothing can be done about it’ attitude likely to result in it’s loss after a decade of waste & neglect. That’s been well supported (even our previously non-gardening MP became a guerrilla gardener); since then we have been the keyholders for FJ, & are still working in reaction to failures… Read more »