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Walkers on water at ferry service launch

PUBLISHED: 11:33 27 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:56 03 March 2010

TIME may be running out for a popular foot ferry taking to the water today for what may be its last season.

The husband and wife team who run the Harwich foot ferry linking Suffolk and Essex are warning that a funding crisis means this year may be their last.

TIME may be running out for a popular foot ferry taking to the water today for what may be its last season.

The husband and wife team who run the Harwich foot ferry linking Suffolk and Essex are warning that a funding crisis means this year may be their last.

If the ferry – much loved by ramblers to the Shotley peninsular and day-trippers to the resort of Felixstowe – permanently weighs anchor it will be a blow to the area.

David and Bridget Baines have run the service, linking Felixstowe, Harwich and Shotley, since 2001 – but fear each season could be their last.

The ferry, which can accommodate up to a dozen, only stays afloat thanks to £8,000 in annual grants from both Suffolk and Essex County Councils.

The ferry was relaunched at Easter on a limited timetable but will now run seven days a week until September.

But Mrs Baines said: "We have to apply for a grant every year and we never really know if we are going to get it. It makes planning for the future very difficult, knowing each year at the ferry could be its last."

The couple, from Wades Lane, Shotley, took over the non-profit making service from Christopher Spraggens in December 2001.

They had previously launched a guided tour of Harwich Harbour and the surrounding area in their boat City of Glasgow II.

But now the foot ferry is taking priority.

Mr Baines said: "It's true that this year could be our last. It's impossible to go to a bank with a business plan if you are unable to predict your income."

Last year, the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) approved a £10,000 grant from the Government-funded Market Towns' Initiative.

But that money, according to Mr Baines was for capital repairs to the boat. Remaining grants left them with just £5,000 to cover costs.

Rambler Simon Green, from Queens Road in Felixstowe, who regularly uses the ferry to start walks in Shotley, said: "It would be a real blow if it closed down permanently. The service is a long way from being a flop. I hope money can be found to keep it going."

N What do you think? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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