Hovercraft on the agenda for service linking Fleetwood to Barrow, Liverpool and Southport

Peter Gibson has welcomed plans for a hovercraft
Peter Gibson has welcomed plans for a hovercraft

Plans for a hovercraft service linking Fleetwood to Barrow, Liverpool and Southport are being discussed, it has been revealed.

And although the proposals are at an early stage, the suggestions have been given a resounding welcome.

Coun Peter Gibson, leader of Wyre Borough Council

Coun Peter Gibson, leader of Wyre Borough Council

The link could open Fleetwood up to a whole new tourism market, with visitors coming in from other ports, while giving Fleetwood and Wyre residents the opportunity to visit other areas on a state-of-the art craft.

Fleetwood MP Eric Ollerenshaw chaired a meeting of North West MPs on Monday to discuss the proposals.

The plans have been put forward by a company called Hovercraft Services UK, which seeks to run services connecting Fleetwood with Southport and Liverpool and a separate service to Heysham and Barrow.

Services would run every day, with the number of crossings to be decided at a later date.

I would like to open up a discussion between MPs, Lancashire County Council and Hovercraft Services to ascertain the feasibility of the proposal

Last week, in a letter of response to the Lancashire County Council Fylde coast masterplan, Mr Ollerenshaw urged Lancashire County Council transport chiefs to meet with the group to consider the feasibility of the project.

The Fleetwood MP said: “Hovercraft Services UK has approached me with this proposal to run hovercraft services.

“I would like to open up a discussion between MPs, Lancashire County Council and Hovercraft Services to ascertain the feasibility of the proposal.

“It is very early days, but I am always open to suggestions that have the potential to improve infrastructure.

“The meeting went very well.

“If this service was to go ahead, it would also provide a useful link to the two BAE sites at Warton and Barrow.

“It could cut at least an hour off that journey and could become an important commerial connection.

“I would think it would have the potential to run at least 11 months of the year.”

The cross-party meeting at Westminster involved Southport MP John Pugh (Lib Dem) and Barrow MP John Woodcock (Labour).

Mark Menzies (Conservative, Fylde) was also represented and Paul Maynard (Conservative, Blackpool North and Cleveleys) met with the hovercraft company earlier.

The MPs watched a short video which looked at the Isle of Wight service, which uses the same 95-seater hovercraft but is run by another operator.

The Isle of Wight service operates 12 months a year and only ceases when weather is particularly bad.

Fleetwood Town Council member, Coun Jack Harrison, who has actively campaigned for the return of Fleetwood’s rail link, said: “Anything that stops Fleetwood remaining as a dead end peninsular, and linking it up with new transport routes, can only be a good thing.

“In principle, this is a very interesting idea.”

Fleetwood businessman Steve Lynton, who runs the Granada Fish Bar on North Albert Street, added: “I think it’s a superb idea and I hope it comes off.”

And Wyre Council leader, Coun Peter Gibson, said: “I originally come from Maghull and I know how long the journey to Southport is by road.

“If Fleetwood could get a hovercroft link to Southport and Barrow, it would be of enormous benefit to Fleetwood and all those areas. It would be fantastic.”

Hovercraft Services UK were not available for comment.