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State intervention 'required' in ferry services

Tynwald to consider asset purchasing beyond 2020

The Manx government is preparing the next phase of its plan for the future of sea services.

The Department of Infrastructure says 'appropriate intervention' will secure the provision of ferry travel for 25 years, after the current arrangement ends in 2020.

Last June saw Tynwald agree to a Strategic Sea Services Policy, which sets out eight overarching principles to be upheld after government's Linkspan User Agreement with the Steam Packet ends.

This month, members will be presented with two new reports from off-Island consultants.

One of them, from Oxford-based Oxera Consulting, recommends that the User Agreement be extended for six years beyond 2020, with additional financial regulations.

Alternatives put forward are putting services out to open tender, state asset purchasing or the franchising of services by government.

Oxera suggests that the Island invests in expanding its own ports, to allow significantly larger vessels year round.

It also stresses that investment must be made in at least one UK port to secure a long-term link.

Infrastructure Minister Ray Harmer says securing reliable, good value ferry services over the next three decades 'will require some level of government intervention' to protect the 'social and economic wellbeing of the Isle of Man'.

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