Support for better ferries encouraging

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Isle of Wight County Press January 24, 2014

Campaigners bidding to move Wightlink into the ownership of a community interest company (CIC) said they had been very encouraged by the initial response from Islanders. In five days, around 2,000 people gave their support to the IW Better Ferry Campaign on its website, Twitter and Facebook page.

Businessmen Patrick Seely said: "We want to provide a forum in which Islanders are able to voice their opinion. “There are many of us who have stored up frustrations over many years.Now is our time to speak. We can have a Better Ferry future.”

The campaign is led by Mr Seely, a senior partner of a company advising on global mergers and acquisitions, John Buckland, former chief executive Liz Earle, Nicholas Finney, a specialist in port legislation, and Andrew Palmer, owner of the Priory Bay Hotel. Its aim is stop price rises and increase crossings, including early-morning and late night sailings.

With support of Island MP Andrew Turner, they hope to work with Wightlink’s owners, Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund, and its banks to tackle the firm’s £195 million debt burden, which they say is affecting services.

Wightlink said it had high customer-satisfaction levels, with 80% rating the service excellent or good, in a survey last summer.

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