Date: 09 Jun 2006 00:00 Source: Isle of Wight County Press
A major new IW Council study into cross-Solent ferries will explore whether the authority can help create a new route to the mainland.
County Hall is adamant it will not itself set up an operation to rival Wightlink and Red Funnel but will look at whether any of its land holdings could become a ferry port.
It will also explore whether mainland authorities would provide land and it is hoped that if such a route is found, either an existing ferry company or a newcomer would introduce services there.
Cabinet spokesman David Pugh said it was too early to say where that route might be found.
The study will be carried out over the coming year by the council's Policy Commission for the Economy, Tourism, Regeneration and Transport, which will make recommendations to the cabinet.
Other key areas it will tackle are the levels of demand for cross-Solent travel and the suitability and locality of existing ports and the effect those factors have on tourism, the economy and residents.
The study will not look at issues of competition nor the pros and cons of a fixed link.
All cross-Solent operators will be invited to give evidence alongside transport and commercial bodies.
Cllr Charles Hancock, who will lead the Island Ports Sustainability Study, said: "It is recognised this is an issue of considerable interest to an increasingly mobile Island population who wish to enjoy the benefits of living here while ensuring that the mainland is easily accessible and affordable.
"We expect there to be a high level of interest in this enquiry and we look forward to receiving evidence from a wide range of interested parties before making recommendations for future council involvement on cross-Solent travel issues."
The process will be discussed by the council's policy commission meeting on Wednesday at 6pm.
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