Weymouth officials reconsider ferry link

GUERNSEY could once again have a ferry link to Weymouth, after the town’s council decided to back a move to investigate reintroducing the connection.

Condor Vitesse in Weymouth harbour. (Picture by Dorset Echo)
Condor Vitesse in Weymouth harbour. (Picture by Dorset Echo)

A joint Dorset/Weymouth task group is to be set up by town councillor Jan Bergman to push forward with the idea: ‘We had a meeting last night [Wednesday] and my motion was supported,’ he said.

‘Now we will be contacting the States of Guernsey at some stage to see if they are interested formally.’

He said that Dorset Council, which runs the harbour, seems to have changed its mind over the port starting to take passenger ferries again.

‘At the moment it is a fishing port,’ said Cllr Bergman.

He has already spoken to Brittany Ferries and Red Funnel Ferries and the latter was ‘particularly interested to talk’, he said.

But he also intends to approach other ferry firms to see if any are keen.

Condor used to run two fast ferries from Weymouth, but switched the services to Poole in 2015.

This was due to structural problems with the port, said Condor, which saw parts of the berth collapsing. It was reportedly going to cost about £10m. in repairs and Weymouth and Dorset Council were not able to secure the necessary funding.

But in his report to the Weymouth Town Council, Cllr Bergman said that Condor was now partially owned by Brittany Ferries, ‘which has better access to a varying fleet and size of ferry which could be more suitable for Weymouth’.

Furthermore, it could be argued that Weymouth is a more accessible port and more commercially viable than Poole, it said.

As well as the two ferry companies, contact had been made with marine consultants advising the States of Guernsey.

‘On further assessment, it is feasible that a ferry service could be provided linking the Channel Islands and possibly the Isle of Wight, which is economically viable and should not require any financial subsidy from either Dorset Council or Weymouth Town Council,’ said the report.

‘With particular regard to the States of Guernsey, it is possible that Guernsey would wish to introduce, and financially support, ferry services to include Alderney as an alternative to air transport.’

Further investigation was needed into the ‘significant benefits’ that a ferry service could provide for Weymouth.

Among the potential benefits to the port outlined by Cllr Bergman are:

. Increased employment opportunities for Weymouth residents, particularly including skilled employment opportunities;

. Potential engineering apprenticeships for younger people in Weymouth;

. Increased trade for Weymouth’s hotels, restaurants and bars;

. Increased business and therefore more support for Weymouth precinct and shops;

. Leisure and travel opportunities for local people (seen as possibly increasingly beneficial due to future difficulties in travelling abroad);

. The support of learning for Weymouth school children and college students. The islands’ history during the Second World War and ‘associated cultural history’ such as the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society are referred to;

. The creation of investment opportunities in Weymouth.

Condor was approached for comment on the idea and a spokesman said: ‘Our sole attention is focused on trying to resume passenger services on our existing routes from Poole and St Malo, which have not operated for the past three months.’

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