Talks to try to save ferry

The Fleetwood to Knott End ferry is in danger of being axed due to budget cuts at County Hall
The Fleetwood to Knott End ferry is in danger of being axed due to budget cuts at County Hall

Talks are under way among community groups to try to save the Knott End ferry from the chop.

The service is regarded as particularly vital to older residents in the Knott End, Preesall and Pilling areas, many of whom have come to rely on various health services at Fleetwood.

They say the ferry is the quickest and most effective way of getting between the two areas.

There is also massive support in Fleetwood for the ferry which is under threat from County Hall budget cuts.

Coun Terry Rogers, chairman of Fleetwood Town Council, met with representatives from Preesall Town and Pilling Parish councils and also senior figures from Wyre Council.

However, the long-term future of the ferry may also be affeced by ambitious plans to build a Wyre tidal barrage,

Coun Rogers said: “We all want to do our bit to try and save the ferry. It was a very good meeting.

“But certain questions need answering before we can put together our joint business plan - and one key question is over the current contract and what Lancashire County Council is actually going to do about the funding. We can’t make our plans until we know those details.”

The plan would be for each of the parish councils to raise money on council tax precept payments to help contribute to the money Wyre is already paying to deliver the ferry service.

Wyre currently shares that cost with Lancashire County Council, each paying £80,000 a year.

But last month County Hall agreed budget proposals which would see it cease paying its half of that funding from April next year, as part of the massive savings it must make. That decision is due to be ratified at a final full council County Hall meeting on February 17. The key question is over the contract drawn up between Wyre and Lancashire, which sees both parties committed to the funding until March 2017.

Questions remain over how long County Hall will actually continue with its funding. Coun Peter Gibson, leader of Wyre Council, said: “The meeting was a positive starting point, but there are still a lot of questions.

“For us to move forward I think it will be necesarry for all of us, incuding Lancashire County Council and the ferry operators, to get round the table and discuss how to proceed.

“There is a contract between Wyre and County signed until March 2017 and our legal team will be meeting with County’s legal team to discuss that.

“There is also the fact that the ferry boat is actually owned by Lancashire Country to consider, and in addition there is also the question of how the Wyre Barrage, which is looking increasingly more likely to happen, will affect the ferry.”