Campaigners hoping to restore Fleetwood’s ferry link with the Isle of Man will look to alternative ferry firms to make the proposals possible if they have no luck with the current operator.
At a public meeting at Fleetwood Conservative Club, Manx businessman Steve England said there was a chance other ferry companies could be able to operate on the island in future and one of them could provide the Fleetwood link.
And in a new development at the meeting, the campaign was also boosted by the team behind an ambitious £300 million tidal energy “barrage”-type scheme in Fleetwood, which says its plans to reduce silting can help the Manx ferry proposals. The interest in Fleetwood was first re-ignited after questions over the future of passenger ferry sailings between the island and Liverpool. It makes Fleetwood a possible alternative.
Mr England’s plans to restore Fleetwood’s ferry crossings to the island appeared to have suffered a setback last month when the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, which at present has a monopoly of sailings to the mainland, appeared to quash the suggestion. However, at the public meeting, he said the possibility that other ferry companies may be able to operate on the island could provide a real opportunity.
He said: “The Isle of Man government has opened the doors to other possible providers. I understand eight firms have expressed an interest in running ferry services to the mainland. I have already spoken to two of them, and sounded them out about our plans. I have never said it was just about the Steam Packet Company, although I am still keen to speak to them. We are looking for as much support as possible for our online and paper petitions which we will present to the Manx government in November.”
Bob Long, of Natural Energy Wyre (NEW), said at the meeting: “Part of our proposals is to build a wall stretching out from Fleetwood Pier which will reduce silting. That could make life a lot easier for a ferry to the island.”
Coun Terry Rogers, chairman of Fleetwood Town Council, said: “We would consider sending a delegation to the island to support these ferry plans.”
And Fleetwood MP Cat Smith said the ferry’s return could boost the town and she backed the plans. The last Fleetwood sailing to the island was a sell-out in 2002.