31 Aug 2017

Floating bridge coming out of service

The leader of the Isle of Wight Council has today (Thursday 31 August) announced that as of Monday (4 September) Cowes floating bridge will be removed from service until such time as it can be demonstrated that the bridge, and the service it provides, can operate properly in accordance with the council’s specified requirements.

Councillor Stewart said: “I understand and share the frustrations and impact this inconsistent service is currently having on our local community. I am also aware of the amount of time and energy the council is having to dedicate to try to address the problems with the new floating bridge. Having only become a majority administration in May of this year, our priority is to ensure that our resources are focused, and not disproportionally so on fixing the mistakes of the past, while others were in charge.

“However, it is now up to the present administration under my leadership to sort this out so that Island residents can have the service they deserve and expected; I certainly share their frustrations, which have been expressed on many occasions during the commissioning process of the floating bridge.

“It is quite clear to me that the floating bridge is not working as it should be. It is simply not acceptable that the vessel still cannot operate at all states of the tide. This makes timetabling the operation of the bridge near on impossible. Therefore, in discussion with officers and the Cabinet, I have taken the difficult decision to remove the floating bridge from service until such time as the issues have been satisfactorily resolved. The council has also instructed lawyers to advise the council on the various contractual issues relating to the design, build and commissioning of the floating bridge. I appreciate that this will restrict the amount of information that we can release into the public domain at this time.

“The review I have instigated will consider a number of matters that have been highlighted to me by the local community and are already being investigated; I thank those in the community, including the ward councillor and East Cowes town council in particular, for sharing their concerns with me. More than £3 million of public money has been spent, through the local enterprise partnership on this new vessel and expectations have not yet been met; we need to get it put right.

“We have formally written to both the designers and the builders of the floating bridge requiring them to work together to discuss and propose solutions to resolve the issues and to provide a timetable within which this will be achieved.”

From Monday 4 September until further notice, a passenger only launch service will operate during peak periods as follows:

Day  From  To 
Monday to Thursday  5am  10am 
  1pm  7pm 
 Friday 5am  10am 
  1pm  11.30pm 
 Saturday 5am  10am 
  5pm  11.30pm 
 Sunday 6.40am  10am 
  5pm  10pm 

However, during the week 4 to 8 September 2017, the passenger launch will operate from 3pm on Monday 4 September and 2.15pm on Thursday 7 September.

Councillor Stewart said: “I appreciate that putting a reduced service in place for an extended period is not what people are used to or expect of the floating bridge service, but I also need to look to the council’s financial position; Isle of Wight council taxpayers cannot continue to subsidise a more extensive service without some certainty of recovering these costs in the future. With the best will in the world, the council has spent four months trying to resolve various issues and sustain a service without success.

“These last four months have been extremely difficult for the council as well as the community. I also take account, in making this decision of the fact that the situation has put increasing pressure on our officers and our floating bridge staff, and it is now reaching an unacceptable level which I am no longer prepared to accept.

“I would like to thank all those involved for their continued patience while we have tried to resolve the commissioning issues, the passenger launch businesses that have helped us, and continue to help us, to maintain some service across the Medina.

“In conclusion, the council will be doing its very best to reinstate this service properly and as quickly as possible, but we must get it right.”

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Floating bridge to be taken out of service
Floating bridge to be taken out of service
  • Cowes Floating Bridge will be taken out of service from 4 September 2017.
East Cowes Isle of Wight