27th March 2020
Island Labour notes that the government has suspended competition laws relating to Red Funnel, Hovertravel and Wightlink. These laws, in theory, prevent collusion and price-fixing.
The reason given for the suspension of the requirements of the act is to allow the companies to co-operate to ensure a service is maintained to Islanders during the current challenges.
Island Labour’s policy is to call for the government to bring the ferry companies into public ownership, so that Islanders’ interests can be better served irrespective of crises such as the coronavirus.
Island Labour Chair, Julian Critchley, said: “It’s obviously the right thing to do, to ensure that Islanders are not cut off from the mainland, either in person or in terms of goods and services which we need.”
“Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that the routes are “fundamental to people’s lives”. We agree.”
“The question which this should be raising in everyone’s minds is: If Islanders’ best interests are clearly served by a single co-ordinated service at this time, then why would we return to the pre-virus situation?”
“The Island’s economy loses tens of millions every year to the ferry companies in pure profit going to their owners. That’s money which needs to stay on the island, either in lower costs for residents, or more spending power for visitors.”
“What the government’s action does is to rightly recognise that the ferries are an essential vital public service, not an optional private choice. They need to be brought into public ownership, so we can maintain a co-ordinated, effective, and cheaper service at all times, not just in a crisis.”
“The way we have, as a country, had to respond to the challenges of this virus have demonstrated the importance of public investment and public services. Our island, and our country, deserve the same priority being given to public services after the crisis is over.”