UPDATE: Council's fight for Condor service

Dorset Echo: Council's fight for Condor service Council's fight for Condor service

COUNCIL chiefs are hoping Condor Ferries can keep sailing from Weymouth even if the authority cannot provide a berth for a larger ship the firm wants to buy.

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council says it is in 'productive discussions' with the States of Jersey and Guernsey about the cross-channel ferry link between the Channel Islands and Weymouth.

Condor is waiting to hear from the States on a decision about a new 10-year operating licence. If the ferry company gets the green light, it will unlock investment to buy a £50m high-speed Austal 102 trimaran.

Whether it operates from Weymouth depends on the council coming up with £10m to upgrade berth 1.

The borough council says it does not have the money but continues to explore external funding while also examining other options.

But if Condor switched to Poole, the council hopes an existing Condor Ferries' vessel can sail from Weymouth as well.

Council spokesman for Corporate Affairs and Continuous Improvement Cllr Mike Byatt said: “Condor has always stated its preference is to sail from Weymouth as the distance and time it takes to cross the channel is less.

“It is our understanding that Condor has three other catamarans in operation, one of which works the routes to France and has at least seven years operation left in it, and two others that currently service Weymouth and Poole, however we are unaware of the service life left in these. We will continue discussions with Condor to see whether these vessels could continue to operate from berth three alongside operating the new vessel from Poole Harbour if we cannot find external funding for the new berth.

“These are complex commercial negotiations, but we are in regular dialogue with Condor and now the Channel Islands, to understand the implications for Weymouth.”

Cllr Byatt said the council would continue to look at all options available, including if Condor decide it no longer wishes to operate from Weymouth.

He said: “We will be working on plans for the peninsula site should Condor decide not to continue to run a ferry service from Weymouth.

“We will continue to assess the business case for Condor's continuation alongside the business case for the development of the peninsula as part of our strategic economic vision. We will endeavour to make the best decision in the interests of the borough and its residents.”

Condor: 'We will support the council'

CHIEF Executive of Condor Ferries James Fulford said: “Despite having spent over £10m in the last two years maintaining our fleet of high speed ferries, they are becoming increasingly expensive and difficult to maintain. The Austal 102 will improve reliability, because it is able to cope with much higher seas and will be more technically reliable, and will give our guests a much greater level of comfort.”

He added: “Weymouth is the historic and natural gateway to the Channel Islands, however we can only operate from ports where it is safe to do so and where the berthing facilities are fit for purpose.

“Condor Ferries enjoys a long-standing and constructive working relationship with the council, and we are both committed to working together in the most professional way.

“We've been very clear that we will support the council as the issues regarding funding, regulation and legislative become clearer, and we have not ruled out a contribution to the cost of the works.”

Comments (12)

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4:26pm Tue 1 Jul 14

MrTomSmith says...

So there we have it, a clear indication that Weymouth will not be forking out more money. WELL DONE.
So there we have it, a clear indication that Weymouth will not be forking out more money. WELL DONE. MrTomSmith
  • Score: 28

4:44pm Tue 1 Jul 14

Simon Nicholas says...

They made it clear some time ago that there is no money available for additional work,, that is why they are trying to seek external funding / grant aid.
They made it clear some time ago that there is no money available for additional work,, that is why they are trying to seek external funding / grant aid. Simon Nicholas
  • Score: 14

5:23pm Tue 1 Jul 14

Simon Nicholas says...

Although Cllr Byatt is party to sensitive information that we are not,, and has the advantage of knowing the current "state of play" from the ongoing meetings with Condors and the Channel Islands mob, his theory seems somwhat flawed to me. My reasoning is as follows:-

1) Condor will not need two ports as this new superferry has the capacity to mop up all the current demand there exists from both Weymouth and Poole. It will also need to be full most of the time to justify the investment in it.

2) Therefore continuing to run a smaller older ship from Weymouth will dilute the market (and earnings) available to the new big ship.

3) Even if Cllr Byatt is successful in this quest to persuade Condor to continue operating a smaller ship out of here, it could only be a seasonal operation, as they need to keep the new one running all year (again) to keep it viable.

What I would like to see is the new superferry at least trying to navigate the harbour as far as berth 3 - you never know, rearranging some of the boats that currently moor up alongside the harbour wall under the Nothe may make a difference - only a thought!

Simon N.
Although Cllr Byatt is party to sensitive information that we are not,, and has the advantage of knowing the current "state of play" from the ongoing meetings with Condors and the Channel Islands mob, his theory seems somwhat flawed to me. My reasoning is as follows:- 1) Condor will not need two ports as this new superferry has the capacity to mop up all the current demand there exists from both Weymouth and Poole. It will also need to be full most of the time to justify the investment in it. 2) Therefore continuing to run a smaller older ship from Weymouth will dilute the market (and earnings) available to the new big ship. 3) Even if Cllr Byatt is successful in this quest to persuade Condor to continue operating a smaller ship out of here, it could only be a seasonal operation, as they need to keep the new one running all year (again) to keep it viable. What I would like to see is the new superferry at least trying to navigate the harbour as far as berth 3 - you never know, rearranging some of the boats that currently moor up alongside the harbour wall under the Nothe may make a difference - only a thought! Simon N. Simon Nicholas
  • Score: 5

5:52pm Tue 1 Jul 14

FerryFan says...

Condorvhave made it clear they wish to carry on operating from Weymouth, it is their preferred choice. In my opinion Poole already has a suitable berth for the new vessel, the berth the present cats operate from. And as a Bournemouth/Poole resident it would be a shame to see Condor leave, they are long established here. But wishes must be respected and if they are keen to operate the new ship from Weymouth, then Weymouth should keep/cultivate their interest. For business reasons it would be better for them to operate from Weymouth anyway. Whatever they decide, hopefully people will offer their support, the present vessels aren't getting any younger and hopefully this new vessel will provide an excellent replacement, she looks great and she will serve company and customers well!! Support her.
Condorvhave made it clear they wish to carry on operating from Weymouth, it is their preferred choice. In my opinion Poole already has a suitable berth for the new vessel, the berth the present cats operate from. And as a Bournemouth/Poole resident it would be a shame to see Condor leave, they are long established here. But wishes must be respected and if they are keen to operate the new ship from Weymouth, then Weymouth should keep/cultivate their interest. For business reasons it would be better for them to operate from Weymouth anyway. Whatever they decide, hopefully people will offer their support, the present vessels aren't getting any younger and hopefully this new vessel will provide an excellent replacement, she looks great and she will serve company and customers well!! Support her. FerryFan
  • Score: -15

7:19pm Tue 1 Jul 14

Simon Nicholas says...

I have just read this "news" report again and it really has made me chuckle!

There is basically nothing in this that has not already been reported.

Basically the Council can`t afford the costs of rebuliding berth 1, they are looking at external grants and funding instead, Condor will purchase 50 million pound superferry if they get the long term Channel Islands deal ans would like to operate it here, Condor have not ruled out some sort of contribution to the harbour works, Council also now talking to Channel Islands as well as Condor and exploring other options if they lose the ferry service, and in a perfect world would like Condor to continue using Express or Vitesse at Weymouth.

All of the above is well known to anybody even the slightest bit interested in the story.

So today`s news is "no news is good news"! I presume either the Echo had a quiet news day, or the councillor likes seeing his name in the papers!

Cheers
Simon N.
I have just read this "news" report again and it really has made me chuckle! There is basically nothing in this that has not already been reported. Basically the Council can`t afford the costs of rebuliding berth 1, they are looking at external grants and funding instead, Condor will purchase 50 million pound superferry if they get the long term Channel Islands deal ans would like to operate it here, Condor have not ruled out some sort of contribution to the harbour works, Council also now talking to Channel Islands as well as Condor and exploring other options if they lose the ferry service, and in a perfect world would like Condor to continue using Express or Vitesse at Weymouth. All of the above is well known to anybody even the slightest bit interested in the story. So today`s news is "no news is good news"! I presume either the Echo had a quiet news day, or the councillor likes seeing his name in the papers! Cheers Simon N. Simon Nicholas
  • Score: 12

7:25pm Tue 1 Jul 14

FerryFan says...

I'm finding the thumbs downs quite amusing - I considered my comment quite fair, trying to see it from both sides. Be interesting for the thumbs downers to give their reasons, lol!!
I'm finding the thumbs downs quite amusing - I considered my comment quite fair, trying to see it from both sides. Be interesting for the thumbs downers to give their reasons, lol!! FerryFan
  • Score: 7

7:54pm Tue 1 Jul 14

Simon Nicholas says...

I agree with you Ferry Fan, I thought your e-mail was intelligent, fair and factual.

Unfortunately, mails like this do not go down well with the majority of keyboard warriors who inhabit these comments pages!

Cheers
Simon N.
I agree with you Ferry Fan, I thought your e-mail was intelligent, fair and factual. Unfortunately, mails like this do not go down well with the majority of keyboard warriors who inhabit these comments pages! Cheers Simon N. Simon Nicholas
  • Score: 0

9:12pm Tue 1 Jul 14

FerryFan says...

Thank you Simon, usual Internet, lol! Perhaps some of these people would like to be in the position of trying to organise this new ferry, Mr Fulford has his work cut out trying to sort this out, good luck to him.
Thank you Simon, usual Internet, lol! Perhaps some of these people would like to be in the position of trying to organise this new ferry, Mr Fulford has his work cut out trying to sort this out, good luck to him. FerryFan
  • Score: -11

9:27pm Tue 1 Jul 14

Simon Nicholas says...

Ferry fan,

Always keen to support somebody posting something fair and positive.

It makes a change from the usual suspects revelling in the towns decline or accusing local councillors of accepting "brown envelopes" etc.!

Much as I firmly believe that Weymouth needs the ferry however, and honestly think that the re-development of berth 1 would have long term advantages for the harbour, I don`t really share your views on Mr Fulford to be honest - he has got himself into a right old pickle over his obsession with this new boat. This all could have been handled a lot better at the end of the day.

Cheers
Simon N.
Ferry fan, Always keen to support somebody posting something fair and positive. It makes a change from the usual suspects revelling in the towns decline or accusing local councillors of accepting "brown envelopes" etc.! Much as I firmly believe that Weymouth needs the ferry however, and honestly think that the re-development of berth 1 would have long term advantages for the harbour, I don`t really share your views on Mr Fulford to be honest - he has got himself into a right old pickle over his obsession with this new boat. This all could have been handled a lot better at the end of the day. Cheers Simon N. Simon Nicholas
  • Score: 1

5:36am Wed 2 Jul 14

FerryFan says...

I was thinking along the lines of that for all that is involved with this new ferry, it must be a bit of a nightmare to try and organise. I wouldn't want the job of doing it. That boat has been sitting in Perth for a long time, recently a company called Euroferries were after it, but that went belly up, I mentioned on a forum elsewhere that that ship would be excellent for Condor, and she would a good idea right back then, turns out they were looking at her anyway, so my opinion of this trimaran goes right back then, not recent, I would personally love to see this boat in Dorset, think she is a good ship to replace the present cats. Not so good maybe that we would lose Poole as a port for her!

Wasn't aware at that time of course of what was going to be going into getting her, of course things could have been much easier, this is why I commented as I did on Mr Fulford, I know that over the recent years, what with the problems with the cats, now they are in dire need of replacing then he has to replace them, and this boat is ideal. Trying to get several people sining on the same hymn sheet is maybe a bit difficult, that is why I am probably saying it must be frustrating on many levels. Maybe things could have been done easier, but it probably isn't as simple as going into a shop, saying I want that one, paying for it and driving it away, lol. Probably a lot of very awkward discussions going on!!
I was thinking along the lines of that for all that is involved with this new ferry, it must be a bit of a nightmare to try and organise. I wouldn't want the job of doing it. That boat has been sitting in Perth for a long time, recently a company called Euroferries were after it, but that went belly up, I mentioned on a forum elsewhere that that ship would be excellent for Condor, and she would a good idea right back then, turns out they were looking at her anyway, so my opinion of this trimaran goes right back then, not recent, I would personally love to see this boat in Dorset, think she is a good ship to replace the present cats. Not so good maybe that we would lose Poole as a port for her! Wasn't aware at that time of course of what was going to be going into getting her, of course things could have been much easier, this is why I commented as I did on Mr Fulford, I know that over the recent years, what with the problems with the cats, now they are in dire need of replacing then he has to replace them, and this boat is ideal. Trying to get several people sining on the same hymn sheet is maybe a bit difficult, that is why I am probably saying it must be frustrating on many levels. Maybe things could have been done easier, but it probably isn't as simple as going into a shop, saying I want that one, paying for it and driving it away, lol. Probably a lot of very awkward discussions going on!! FerryFan
  • Score: 2

8:06am Wed 2 Jul 14

The Fish says...

With a spare (contingency) of 10.5m (reported elsewhere in the Echo yesterday) why don't WPBC invest this money (10m) in upgrading the berth on the proviso (contract) of a return of 11m over 10 years (as mooring fees) from Condor, i.e. 1.1m fees per year (what do they currently pay?) for ten years. No need to look for other sources of income (and hence paying extra interest).
With a spare (contingency) of 10.5m (reported elsewhere in the Echo yesterday) why don't WPBC invest this money (10m) in upgrading the berth on the proviso (contract) of a return of 11m over 10 years (as mooring fees) from Condor, i.e. 1.1m fees per year (what do they currently pay?) for ten years. No need to look for other sources of income (and hence paying extra interest). The Fish
  • Score: -5

9:38pm Wed 2 Jul 14

Simon Nicholas says...

Its a nice idea Mr Fish, but I don`t think they would be allowed to use their entire reserve on anything, least of all this!.

However, a package made up of some money from it, a contribution from Condor and the rest made up from grant aid would be most agreeable to me.

Simon N.
Its a nice idea Mr Fish, but I don`t think they would be allowed to use their entire reserve on anything, least of all this!. However, a package made up of some money from it, a contribution from Condor and the rest made up from grant aid would be most agreeable to me. Simon N. Simon Nicholas
  • Score: 1

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