Record footfall for foot ferry

FELIXSTOWE'S foot ferry looks set fair for the future after record numbers of passengers trooped on board.Government grants and council cash have kept the service afloat – and now they have been rewarded by a rapid rise in popularity.

FELIXSTOWE'S foot ferry looks set fair for the future after record numbers of passengers trooped on board.

Government grants and council cash have kept the service afloat – and now they have been rewarded by a rapid rise in popularity.

Sponsors of the mile-wide trip across the harbour between Felixstowe and Harwich had hoped for a five per cent rise over the summer.

But instead they are celebrating a whopping 20pc increase in passenger numbers for the ferry – which also links to Shotley.

The service now looks to be sailing calm waters for the forseeable future with Felixstowe port earmarking a new berth in its plans to regenerate its southern container terminals.

A partnership of Suffolk County Council, Essex County Council and the ferry operator Baines Boats was formed to ensure the operation of the ferry during the spring and summer this year.

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Both councils provided cash support while Suffolk County Council also helped to publicise the ferry service.

Julian Swainson, member of Suffolk County Council's executive committee, said: "The Foot Ferry linking Felixstowe and Shotley with Harwich is a good example of sustainable transport linking the three peninsulas and saving lengthy car journeys.

"I am pleased that Suffolk County Council was able to contribute to the success of the ferry service this year and we are looking at ways to further improve this service in the future."

Rodney Bass, Essex County Council cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: "I am delighted with the impressive increase in passenger figures for the season."

The ferry has been run since December 2001 by husband and wife team David and Bridget Baines – but in July they announced they were moving to the Outer Hebrides and had agreed to sell the service to seaman Alan Sage.

The foot ferry has survived thanks to £8,000 in annual council grants and last year was given £10,000 from the government-funded Market Towns Initiative.

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