Alderney says no to £450k to subsidise ferry service
ALDERNEY STATES members have ruled out the prospect of a States-owned and subsidised passenger ferry.
A civil service report presented at the May Policy and Finance meeting said that it would cost £450,000 a year.
States members concluded that the economic case for such a venture was not sufficiently robust.
The States commissioned an investigation into the costs, specifications and subsidy required for acquiring and running a vessel after long-term ferry campaigner Peter Annereau identified a boat in Denmark he thought could be suitable for the States. It was on sale for £210,000.
He proposed that the Cathrin, which could seat up to 64, could operate double rotations to Guernsey five days per week in peak season, which he said could be run for an annual subsidy of around £100,000.
But the States-commissioned report said that it would cost £450,000 per year to run and the vessel had not been inspected.
States members heard that such a subsidy could mean an extra £500 per household in property tax every year.
‘If we were to come up with the money, it would mean some hard decisions on what we would have to stop funding,’ said Policy and Finance chairman James Dent.
‘Alternatively, we could fund it by increasing occupiers’ rates, though this would probably mean a close to doubling of present charges.’
Mr Annereau questioned the figure for running costs given in the report.
‘States members are deaf to reason. They have accepted advice that a ferry would need a subsidy of £450,000. That is about £200,000 more than the total running costs for the proposed 50-60 seater vessel.
‘With income in excess of £200,000, the required subsidy would be comfortably within the £100,000.
‘It appears that the project is dead and the island will be left with planes that, alone, can never provide the transport capacity the island needs.’
States members Ian Tugby and Louis Jean, who have argued the case for States investment in a ferry service for years, expressed frustration at the decision.
Mr Tugby said he believed the report’s findings and the subsequent States vote were influenced by the upcoming public service obligation for the island’s air links.
‘I’ve been banging my head against a brick wall for 15 years trying to get some form of ferry going, but now they’ve basically said, that’s it.
‘I think what’s happened is they are frightened that it will upset Aurigny or the States of Guernsey.
‘If the PSO doesn’t come up with what we want, then I don’t know what will happen.’
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