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20 May 2014, 08:38
The government will not pay £10 million to upgrade the Condor Ferries berth in Weymouth.
Richard Drax, the South Dorset MP, arranged for officials from Weymouth and Portland Borough Council to meet Transport Minister Stephen Hammond yesterday (Monday 19 May), to discuss urgent funding to help keep the firm in the town.
But they have been told no government funding is available.
The MP was accompanied by Interim Chief Executive, Jason Vaughan, Director of Communities, Kate Hindson, and Director of Environment, David Evans.
The meeting was called because the new, high-speed trimaran, which Condor is considering buying to replace two older vessels, is so large it can only use the outer berth. This, despite WPBC spending £4 million on refurbishing the inner berth last year.
"Berth one appears to be the only option," Richard Drax said, "and refurbishment will cost £10 million. This is an enormous sum for a local council to find in these straitened times.
"The ferry terminal is an essential part of Weymouth's infrastructure. Without these improvements, we are in danger of losing Condor Ferries altogether in Weymouth.
"The ferry is our link to the Channel Islands and to France. It is essential for local jobs and tourism - the lifeblood of our beautiful resort. We already saw the impact of losing Condor to Poole for 17 months while the inner berth was being repaired. It is of the utmost importance that Condor should not move away permanently. I will do my utmost to ensure that it does not."
Jason Vaughan, Interim Director of WPBC added:
"The Council is working hard to explore all options to secure the long-term future of Condor Ferries operations from Weymouth in order to protect local jobs and continue the historic links to the Channel Islands from the town."
The firm has indicated that it could move permanently to Poole, where it sailed from temporarily last year when the Weymouth repairs were being made.