'THERE will be no new Floating Bridge.'

The leader of the Isle of Wight Council has shut down ideas the authority will buy a new vessel to replace the beleaguered Floating Bridge 6.

Throughout the numerous problems, one solution raised by campaigners was to replace the boat.

The vessel was taken out of action in July this year for routine maintenance but a problem with the hydraulics was found and the boat still remains out of action, almost nine weeks later.

At a meeting of the Isle of Wight cabinet last night (Thursday), Cllr Stewart was asked when the council would order a new one now that he has said the vessel is not fit for purpose.

In response, Cllr Stewart said the current administration inherited the managerial responsibility of the chain ferry and all the challenges and issues that have come with it from the previous Independent administration.

He said: "When it arrived on the Island, everyone expected it to work correctly and provide a good service for the community for years to come.

"What we did not expect was the catalogue of problems we have since experienced over the subsequent years.

"Added challenges recently has been the need to remove it from service during the main parts of the St Mary's Roundabout roadworks from August to September, creating a perfect storm of destruction when we least needed it."

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Roadworks at the new junction had been causing traffic jams and hold-ups over busy periods in August as the new Forest Road exit was introduced.

Cllr Stewart said the primary focus now is to maintain the service as the council starts the talks to secure 'appropriate remedy for the damages that the local council has suffered.'

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He said: "I have been drawn to question whether the vessel was truly fit for purpose when it was designed and constructed as agreed in the contract and this needs to be resolved.

"Our plan is to fix the current problem and ensure the vessel is back in the water as soon as possible.

"We have no plans at this time to order a new floating bridge."

Floating Bridge 6 was funded by a £3.5 million grant from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership.