CONDOR Ferries may abandon Weymouth and move its operation to Poole.
The Echo has learnt that the future of the firm in the resort remains uncertain following plans to replace its existing vessels with a new and larger hydrofoil.
A Weymouth and Portland Borough Council report revealed that Condor has rejected using the refurbished No 3 Berth in Weymouth port due to the size of the new vessel, despite £4m worth of repair works just being spent on the harbour wall.
It says that the ferry firm favours using No 1 Berth which will need £10 million to make it fit for purpose.
That has left the cash-strapped borough council debating its next move.
Borough councillor Ian Bruce confirmed the contents of the confidential report which was shown to councillors, and revealed that the move has sparked problems between the local authority and Condor.
He said: “This would be a very big loss to Weymouth.
“I urge Condor to think again.”
If work on No 1 berth went ahead, Condor would switch its cross Channel sailings to Poole for the 2015 season and return to Weymouth the following year.
There would only be one daily sailing as opposed to the current two a day because the new ferry has a 25 per cent larger capacity than the current vessels.
Cllr Bruce said it is believed that a deposit has already been put down on the new hydrofoil.
The new ferry is 102 metres long whereas the existing ferry is only 86 metres.
Cllr Ian Roebuck, council spokesman for environment and sustainability, added: “The point is that if Condor get a larger vessel and say that they can’t use Berth 3 then it will take at least a year to do the work on Berth 1.
“It will mean that Condor won’t be in Weymouth for this period.”
In November last year, councillors heard that Condor Ferries was set to sign a 15-year contract to use Weymouth as its main route to and from the Channel Islands.
Condor switched to Poole for 17 months while Weymouth’s crumbling quay was repaired in a project worth more than £4million.
As Weymouth port’s biggest customer, Condor – which returned last July – brings at least £7.7million a year to the local economy.
Condor revealed it was planning to bring in a new vessel to sail out of Weymouth in April 2015, but concerns have now been raised about the demands of the ferry firm.
- Ports and Guests Services Director at Condor Ferries Captain Fran Collins said: “We are considering options for a new vessel in the fleet and are engaging in discussions with all ports across our network of routes between the UK, Channel Islands and France.
“Our current sailing schedules are available for booking up to 24 March 2015, allowing guests to plan their holidays to the Channel Islands and France well in advance.”