From Julian Critchley, chair, Island Labour:

Island Labour notes the announcement by Wightlink they are intending to raise prices by up to 100 per cent for Islanders driving down Ryde Pier.

Wightlink claims this is necessary to maintain the pier, noting it has 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 but in the same year it paid a dividend to shareholders  of £15.3m.

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 per cent 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 maintains its enormous profits, because without the pier, the Fastcat wouldn’t be able to take on passengers. To argue every Islander should have to pay even more so this company can continue to make disproportionate profits is a bad joke.

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.