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LOCALS LOBBY AGAINST WIGHTLINK CUTS

Over 100 people have lobbied Wightlink to reconsider its decision to cut its services across the Solent, iwradio.co.uk reports.

The ferry operator has said it needs to cut loss-making sailings and make some 80 redundancies in order to make the business more viable and keep the service more sustainable.

Local residents, however, have registered their concern at the proposals, claiming the crossing is a vital “road” and its scaling down would be a detriment not only to locals that use it on a regular basis but also those who use it to cross the Solent on their Isle of Wight holidays.

The concerns were raised during a meeting at Newport’s St George’s Park, organised by the Isle of Wight Trades Union Council. One attendee was Julia Bridgeman, who established the Solent Ferry Users’ Group. Bridgeman complained about the speed of these cuts, as well as a lack of consultation from the locals, which would have shown parent-company Macquarie the level of ill-will their proposals would be met with on the Island.

As locals see the crossing as a vital “road” for them to reach the mainland, many have called for the government to provide subsidies for the routes, just as it does with the nation’s road network. Such subsidies would also take some power from the private company and put it back into the hands of the local population, who then get more of a say on how it is run.

As yet, however, such subsidies have been ignored, with local MP Andrew Turner explaining to iwcp.co.uk: “It’s a private company not accountable to government. So far the secretary of state Vince Cable has refused a meeting with me on the issue.”