Floating bridge: Shop closure blamed on chain ferry problems

Image caption,
Angie Booth has run her Value-4-U shop for 22 years

A shopkeeper has blamed the Isle of Wight's troubled floating bridge for her decision to close her business.

The new Cowes chain ferry has had periods out-of-service, cars have scraped their bumpers and there have been complaints over noise since it entered service in May 2017.

Angie Booth said her gift shop had been "decimated" by lower footfall.

Isle of Wight Council said "great progress" was being in improving the service.

The £3.2m Floating Bridge Number 6 was immediately beset by problems after its launch - cars scraped their bumpers while disembarking and it suffered an electrical fault on its second day in service.

It re-entered service in December after being suspended for more than three months.

In February it spent a further period out of action after a prow broke mid-way through crossing the River Medina.

Media caption,
The problems that have afflicted the Isle of Wight's £3.2m chain ferry

A replacement launch operates for foot passengers when the chain ferry does not operate, while vehicles have to make a 12-mile (19km) round trip by road.

Mrs Booth said she was "devastated" to be closing her Value-4-U shop on Castle Street in East Cowes.

She had previously campaigned on behalf of traders affected by disruption to the service.

"It's been 21 years as a profitable business and in one year it has decimated us," she said.

"We were promised it would improve the economy - people don't have the confidence in the chain ferry whatsoever. People won't bring their cars over because of the fear of being damaged."

Council leader Dave Stewart said he was "sorry to hear" about Mrs Booth's business closing.

"We have spent nearly £1 million to address the issues, despite the fact the bridge is a non-statutory service.

"As our trial period continues, we're making great progress towards providing a good and reliable service."

Floating bridge timeline:

  • 13 May - Vessel launched
  • 14 May - Broke down
  • 15 May - Service suspended by MCA
  • 7 June - Ran aground
  • 9 June - Ran aground for a second time
  • 9 June - Council said it had cleared "silt build-up that caused the floating bridge to ground"
  • 10 June - Ran aground a third time
  • 13 June to 3 July - Taken out of service at low tide
  • 30 June - Broke down due to electrical fault
  • 21 July - Withdrawn from service at night due to noise levels
  • 4 September - Withdrawn from service indefinitely
  • 11 December - Service resumed as part of extended trial
  • 2 February - Broken prow chain

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