With just over a month to go until the General Election, candidates standing for Isle of Wight West have been discussing what they would do to improve ferry services.

Concerns over reliability and the cost of cross-Solent operators are one of the biggest issues facing Islanders.

In 120 words, The County Press asked all five West candidates how they would tackle the issues if they were to be elected.

Here's what they said...

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For the Isle of Wight Green Party, Cameron Palin said: "As a town councillor, I’ve seen first-hand the impact of the ferries being delayed or cancelled has had on East Cowes, the town gets gridlocked resulting in locals and tourists getting rightly disgruntled.

"Recently, I heard a very upsetting story about grandparents who came to retire here on the Island but due to the ferry prices they now feel isolated and alone as they nor their family can afford to travel over.

"If elected I commit to bringing the ferries into public ownership. Ending corporate greed, capping prices, and investing in a service that is fit for the 21st century.

"Islanders deserve better, that is why bringing the ferries into public ownership is the only way forward."

Ian Pickering, of Reform UK, said: "I believe the ferry companies must have their monopoly status removed by reclaiming 50 per cent of the companies as part of Reform’s critical infrastructure plan.

"Competition from other car carrying providers can begin if they are given access to landing stages.

"Smaller foot-passenger ferries, like those suggested for the Yarmouth Lymington crossing can use the existing harbour infrastructure.

"Capital control measures should be introduced ensuring that profit made in the UK means it is taxed in the UK. And re-investment here, guaranteed by national ownership, in better services, will improve the travel experience for users.

"We will never get a better service if they are owned by overseas companies and asset managers. The demand for profit over service is too great."

Meanwhile, for Island Labour, Richard Quigley said: "Ideally, regulation of fares and timetables, through the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), the official regulator, which requires primary legislation.

"Outgoing MP Bob Seely’s regulatory bill would apply to all ferry operators in England, not just cross Solent operators.

"The focus needs to be on cross-Solent transport, not the Woolwich ferry. 

"Ownership needs to be taken away from the roulette wheel of private equity. A new referral to the competition and markets authority is needed.

"Operators head offices should be on the Island, or at least 50 per cent of their senior team should live here.

"Currently, neither operator has a board member living on the Island. This is an issue of economic and social well-being for Islanders."

Bob Seely, of the Isle of Wight Conservatives, said: "Like every other Islander, I believe that affordable and reliable ferries are a right, not a luxury. I believe we should work together to achieve this.

"Earlier this year, I published a major report into the Solent ferries, the first from an island point of view for years. I showed in detail how services are less frequent, slower and more expensive. 

"So what’s my plan?

"First, I am working to encourage new companies to launch new services.

"Second, I am building the case for regulation. I presented my proposed law just before Parliament rose.

"Islanders deserve decent - and cheaper - ferry services. As the Island’s local champion, I’m working on a plan to get us a better deal."

Isle of Wight Liberal Democrats candidate, Nick Stuart, said: "The ferry issue is critical as the companies use their route monopolies for massive returns of some 25 per cent and fail to deliver reliable and regular services.

"As a councillor in November 2023, Full Council unanimously passed my motion to look to Government for legislation.

"Regulation to stop excessive monopoly profits. To ensure safety and move towards net zero. To offer passage for all goods needed on the Island and prioritise critical vehicles such as fire engines and ambulances.

"Service obligation to run a year round timetable and employ sufficient staff.

"Subsidy to treat the Island fairly as part of the UK and provide a road traffic equivalent approach as is seen around the world, including Scotland."

  • For Isle of Wight East, Emily Brothers is standing for Labour; Michael Lilley for the Lib Dems; Vix Lowthion for the Green Party; Sarah Morris for Reform UK and Joe Robertson for the Conservatives.

Isle of Wight County Press: Isle of Wight East candidates.Isle of Wight East candidates. (Image: Contributed)