IW Council: Conservative councillors welcome ‘productive discussion’ with Hovertravel

A meeting held at County Hall this week (Monday 11th November) with Hovertravel was described as “most productive” by the Conservative Group of councillors who particularly welcome the fact that Hovertravel remains on course to introduce two new hovercraft to serve the Ryde to Southsea route.

The meeting was arranged by the Leader of the Conservative Group on the Isle of Wight Council, Cllr Dave Stewart (Chale, Niton & Whitwell) and Conservative Spokesman on Business and Tourism, Cllr Wayne Whittle (Ryde North East).

It was attended by Neil Chapman (pictured), Managing Director of Hovertravel and Henry Game, Chief Executive of Hovertravel’s parent company, The Bland Group.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Stewart said: “We had a very productive discussion with the representatives of Hovertravel about the future challenges and opportunities for cross-Solent service providers. We were delighted that they were able to confirm that they are still on target to introduce two new hovercraft, hopefully one in 2015 and a second in 2016. This is fantastic news for the Island; it is a welcome investment and statement of long-term commitment to serving the Island’s travel needs.”

Neil Chapman of Hovertravel added: “Hovertravel welcome the open and constructive discussions held on Monday and are pleased to engage with the council to ensure that the integral service that we as an operator provide is aligned to the future development of the Isle of Wight economy and its drive for investment.

“We are only too aware of our important role in the community and therefore we believe that wider awareness of the challenges, issues and opportunities we face as an operator, in turn must be addressed and worked through so that we will enhance and enable future benefits for the Isle of Wight’s residents and businesses. We are supportive of engaging in the forums that will facilitate the ability to do this.”

And Cllr Wayne Whittle said: “The confirmation that two new hovercraft are coming into service sends a clear message that the Island is open for business. The Conservative Group is determined to find ways to stimulate economic growth on the Island. By doing so we will stimulate cross Solent commuter traffic and so help ensure that services are sustainable and affordable for Islanders.

“We support the recently launched Island Business Forum which brings together businesses, large and small, from every part of the Island. We will be arranging for Hovertravel and the other Solent service providers to attend future meetings of the Forum and were also pleased that Hovertravel are accepting the Conservative-backed invitation to attend a future meeting of the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Panel as part of an ongoing dialogue with the Council and its members about how best we can work together to the benefit of the whole Island. Indeed, through the Forum, which has the support of the Island MP, Andrew Turner, and our excellent Destination Management Organisation, we can discuss all aspects of Solent travel from the perspective both of users and of providers.”