At the Isle of Wight Labour Party’s all-member meeting in Newport on 28th November, members agreed the following motion:
Motion for Isle of Wight CLP AMM : Ferry nationalisation
This CLP notes:
- That the cost to users of the cross-Solent ferry services operated by Red Funnel and Wightlink is extremely high
- The reducing frequency and reliability of the companies’ ferry services
- The excessive profits of the ferry companies gained at the expense of the Island’s economy
- The complete absence of all but safety regulation of the ferry companies since their privatisation
- That the inflated fares are causing real economic hardship to islanders, including those:
- who cannot participate in the mainland jobs market;
- who no longer have free access to those NHS services which have been removed from the Island by the Conservative government; and
- whose livelihoods and businesses are damaged by the reduced demand caused by inflated travel costs
- That the Isle of Wight is the only English county whose citizens’ access to the rest of the country is limited by tariffs imposed by private companies
This CLP resolves to write to Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, seeking a commitment to :
- adopt the policy of returning the ferry companies to public ownership as part of the programme of bringing the railway system back into public ownership;
- to ensure that future public ownership provides low-cost cross-Solent travel for residents and businesses on the Isle of Wight, and for visitors to the island; and
- to deliver, immediately after the next Labour Government taking office, rapid regulation to enable vulnerable groups have the right to low-cost cross-Solent travel until such time as the ferries are returned to public ownership.
Critchley: Public ownership of ferries is “long overdue”
Island Labour Chair, Julian Critchley, said:
“The next Labour government is already committed to bringing our railways back into public ownership, and running them in the interests of the people of this country, rather than in the interests of shareholders. The ferries were privatised by a previous Conservative government along with the railways.
“It was a Tory failure to provide any public service regulation requirements which has led to where we are now. We have some of the most expensive fares per mile anywhere in the world, and a declining standard of service, with many cancellations and reductions in frequency.
“Citizens of this county should not have their access to the rest of our country restricted by private companies who make large profits by exploiting a captive market. This is particularly important in the light of the Tories’ continued removal of NHS services from the Island, requiring more and more Islanders to have to pay large sums in order to access the treatment they are entitled to.
“Bringing the ferry companies back into public ownership is a policy which is long overdue, and one which we believe the next Labour government should deliver as a matter of some urgency.”