TOMORROW (Sunday) marks the first anniversary of the new Cowes Floating Bridge entering service — but a reliable crossing for Isle of Wight residents appears to be as far away as ever according to campaigners.

The trouble-plagued vessel has seen numerous breakdowns and service withdrawals — with many residents and councillors on both sides of the River Medina questioning its 'fitness for purpose.'

The service was suspended last year while engineers sorted out issues, including grounding, noise and cars suffering damage as they boarded and disembarked.

And the owner of one East Cowes business blamed the unreliable service for the closure of her shop.

The Mayor of East Cowes, Cllr Peter Lloyd, together with members of the Floating Bridge Stakeholders Group, are due to meet with the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership's (Solent LEP) Funding, Finance and Performance Management Group on June 22 to outline their concerns.

A spokeswoman for the skakeholders group said: "With this floating bridge's bad design causing such poor performance and inconsistency, plus the introduction of and increases in fares, shops, cafes, pubs and other businesses such as carers and cleaners are hurting badly in many ways."

The group has produced a study which claims the number of passengers using the service has fallen dramatically since the new vessel was introduced.

Isle of Wight Council leader, Dave Stewart, was due to meet with the Solent LEP on Friday to give an update on the floating bridge.

See next week's 'Behind the News' special feature on the floating bridge saga.