LOSSES sustained by Windermere’s car ferry being inactive could put the popular service in ‘financial jeopardy’, says Claife Parish Council.
Clerk Mark Phillips has written a strongly worded letter to Diane Wood, chief executive of Cumbria County Council, in a bid to improve the service.
Used by both tourists and locals to cross Windermere from Far Sawrey to Bowness, the boat cuts out a 15 mile drive around England’s longest lake.
But now fears have been voiced over its future after a number of engineering and communication issues.
The letter says: “The council is concerned that losses sustained, either by the ferry being out of action or as a result of its perceived unreliability, must be considerable putting the whole operation in financial jeopardy.
“The response of your council to this is always to make higher than justified fare increases.”
Parish councillor Anne Brodie, who was involved with the county council’s Windermere Ferry Advisory Committee until it was disbanded in 2012, said the ferry required ‘regular maintenance and replacement of equipment’.
“It’s a huge money maker for the county council but there are fewer visitors using it now because of the bad impression it gives by running late and being run-down,” she said.
“It makes a huge difference to people on our side of the lake because of the journey you have to take otherwise. You can’t rely on it getting you to appointments on time.”
She also raised concerns about the lack of information available when the service is suspended.
The ferry has been operating in some form for more than 500 years and the current boat, a diesel-run vessel called ‘Mallard’, can carry up to 18 cars and more than 100 passengers.
A county council spokesperson said the ferry, which runs every 20 minutes, was due a five year maintenance overhaul this Easter and it will be investing £300,000 in it in the future.
“Every five years the Windermere Ferry receives a major service, which includes a repaint and a full electrical and mechanical overhaul, with the replacement of any worn parts,” he said.
“The scale of the servicing work will mean that the ferry will be off the water and out of action for three to four weeks between Easter and the Spring Bank Holiday.”
Regarding the disbandment of the advisory committee, he said: “In May 2012 the day-to-day running of the ferry was brought back in house from the contractor Amey by the county council, along with other highways maintenance functions.
“This meant that the Ferry Advisory Committee was no longer needed – we do not have a standalone advisory committee for any other highways functions, such as gritting.”