Foot ferry saved
A POPULAR foot ferry linking Suffolk and Essex has been saved for its passengers after a buyer was found.The current owners of the Harwich foot ferry had warned this season could be last for the service due to a funding crisis.
A POPULAR foot ferry linking Suffolk and Essex has been saved for its passengers after a buyer was found.
The current owners of the Harwich foot ferry had warned this season could be last for the service due to a funding crisis.
Husband-and-wife team David and Bridget Baines, who have run the ferry since December 2001, said they did not know if they would be able to keep it afloat.
But the future of the service – which links Harwich to Shotley and Felixstowe – has been safeguarded after seaman Alan Sage agreed to buy it.
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Mr Sage, 53, from Harwich, said he hoped the deal would go through at the end of the current season in September and was "optimistic" about the ferry's future.
"The passenger figures are already up on last year and the service has a good relationship with Essex and Suffolk County Councils, who are both helping to promote it," he said.
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"I'm hoping to get a contract with the council for three years and there is no reason why we can't continue – I am quite optimistic."
Mr Sage added: "With all the developments happening in Harwich and Felixstowe, there is going to be a requirement for an all-year, all-weather service, which at the moment we can't provide because of a lack of landing facilities at Felixstowe."
The foot ferry had survived thanks to £8,000 in annual council grants and last year was given £10,000 from the Government-funded Market Towns Initiative.
Mr Baines said: "We are delighted that Alan has agreed to take it on as a foot ferry. It is a very positive thing.
"We are moving to the Outer Hebrides and we were debating whether to come back next summer and run it if we didn't find a buyer.
"We were not sure what was going to happen but we hoped somebody would come in to take it on as a service and it would not be lost."
Mr Baines said passenger numbers were up 60% on last year with a huge increase in passengers going from Felixstowe to Harwich.
But he said he was looking forward to spending more time with his children and would not miss the stresses and strains of running the seven-days-a-week service. Mrs Baines has also been struggling to carry on after losing a thumb in an accident on board the ferry.
He added: "I'm sure Alan will make a success of the foot ferry with his commercial connections – he is already getting involved and will be helping out before the end of the season."
The couple, from Shotley, previously launched a guided tour of Harwich Harbour and the surrounding area in their boat City of Glasgow II.