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No government funds for cash-strapped Hythe Ferry

Hythe Ferry has 'run out of money' according to its operator
Hythe Ferry has 'run out of money' according to its operator

THE government has not offered any extra cash after the plight of the under-threat Hythe ferry was raised with ministers by New Forest East MP Julian Lewis.

As reported in the A&T, it was announced by operator Blue Funnel last month that it had “run out of money” and the service, which is currently not running due to lockdown, would not be starting up again when restrictions ease.

In questions to the transport secretary, Dr Lewis asked what extra assistance was available for the service between Hythe and Southampton, which has been running for about 140 years.

He also enquired what assessment had been made about the economic contribution and historic significance of the Hythe ferry service, and its light railway, which is said to host the world’s oldest pier train.

Junior transport minister Robert Courts said the department recognised the “important role” of the ferry but did not have any recent assessments.

He said help had been offered via £330bn of pandemic support nationally, including the furlough scheme which has been extended until September.

He added: “My department’s officials and I continue to engage closely with all parts of the maritime sector to support them as best we can during this challenging period.”

Hampshire County Council has said it is in discussions with New Forest and Southampton councils over ways to help the operator.

An online fundraising website set up by local resident Ashleigh Mutimear has collected more than £10,000 against a target of £60,000. Visit https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/savethehytheferry

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