Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Cowes new 'floating bridge' grounded for third time in four days

Chain ferry Image copyright Karl Love
Image caption Passengers were helped from the stricken chain ferry when it broke down for the first time on its first weekend in service

Isle of Wight's new £3.2 million Cowes "floating bridge" ran aground for the third time in four days.

The chain ferry has grounded again following the first incident on 7 June, which occurred just hours after the re-launch, and the second on Friday.

The third incident comes after the local council said the silt that caused the first grounding had been cleared.

More than 130 campaigners protested against a range of ferry design faults on Friday, before the second grounding.

One protester said: "There are major issues with the design of the bridge itself - only one sheltered pedestrian hold that gets way too crowded and literally can't hold everyone in inclement weather. Rain runs down the stairs to the open-air deck making them slippery because there is no cover."

Image copyright Andrew Cooke
Image caption The old chain ferry was taken out of service on 2 January

Independent county councillor Julia Baker-Smith, who has raised concerns over the ferry to the leader of Isle of Wight council, said: "We have paid £3.2m for something that isn't fit for purpose."

It is not currently known what has caused the third grounding.

'Teething problems'

Angela Booth, protest organiser, said many people had become victims of the faults with the floating bridge, including students, business owners and people needing disabled access.

She said the pavement was "dangerous" and charges for pedestrians were "unprofitable".

Ms Booth added: "It does not take an engineering degree for councillors and officers to have predicted these obvious problems."

Image caption More than 130 people turned out to protest against the floating bridge, which has been nicknamed Floaty McFloatface

In a statement, Isle of Wight Council said: "We are sorry and are as frustrated as the community with challenges encountered in the introduction of the new floating bridge.

"We understand members of the public, businesses and others have questions about the floating bridge, given the teething problems so far experienced in getting it into service. We will publish full responses to these in time."

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