Politician Phil Gawne is urging people to have their say about the future of the Isle of Man’s ferry services.
The deadline for responses to the Department of Infrastructure’s public consultation is 5pm on Monday, November 9.
Mr Gawne, who’s the Infrastructure Minister, is now encouraging members of the public, businesses and passenger groups to comment on the broader issues relating to the island’s lifeline sea links, rather than focus solely on the current arrangements.
The responses will be reviewed by a working group comprising Mr Gawne as chair, Bill Malarkey MHK, vice-chair, Chris Thomas MHK, Graham Cregeen MHK, Geoffrey Boot MHK, Jane Dellar, chief executive of the Chamber of Commerce, and John Pennington of TravelWatch Isle of Man. A report summarising the results of the consultation will be published later this year.
The department is reviewing the long-term future of ferry services and the Linkspan User Agreement.
It has already established that a number of experienced ferry operators may be interested in bidding for the Isle of Man contract if it is put out to a competitive tender.
If one is successful, it could effectively sound the death knell for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, which has been operating to and from Douglas since 1830.
Mr Gawne said: ‘This is an important issue that will continue to have a significant impact on economic activity and standards of living. I would urge people to respond to the consultation so that we can gain an understanding of what Manx residents and visitors want from any future agreement.’
Bill Malarkey MHK added: ‘Good quality, reliable and competitively-priced ferry travel to the right destinations is a fundamental requirement for leisure and business users in the Isle of Man. We have a duty to explore all the options and to gauge public opinion before the Department goes back to Tynwald with a recommendation about the future of our services.’
People can submit their views via an online survey or in writing to Ann Reynolds, Director of Ports, Department of Infrastructure, Sea Terminal, Douglas, IM1 2RF.