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Options for future of sea services outlined

Packet user agreement could be renewed with good enough offer

The Steam Packet Company could have its linkspan user agreement with the government renewed - but only if it makes a good enough offer.

In Tynwald yesterday, (Tues) Infrastructure Minister Phil Gawne outlined options facing the government as it looks at the future of sea services.

The current user agreement gives the Steam Packet preferential use of the King Edward Pier linkspan in exchange for a guaranteed minimum level of service and runs until 2020, with a six-year extension option that can be triggered by either party.

The Department of Infrastructure has established that a number of ferry operators may be interested in bidding for the Isle of Man contract if it is put out to tender and a public consultation will be held this summer to inform discussions and establish any issues or concerns over the current service.

In a statement to the court, Mr Gawne outlined three options for the government: Respect the current agreement whilst preparing to start a tender process in 2022, so that a potential new operator would be in a position to take over when the User Agreement expires in 2026; Agree to a request from the Steam Packet to end the current User Agreement early and then go out to market, or invite the Steam Packet to propose a new agreement that offers such exceptional value to the Isle of Man that Tynwald can agree that it would be in the best interests of the Isle of Man to accept it without testing the market with a tender process.

Mr Gawne said if the third option was chosen, the company would have to make what he called "a very good offer" to the government.

A guide to the User Agreement is available on the Government website  

http://www.gov.im/media/1348386/guide-to-the-user-agreement.pdf

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