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Chair's Letter April 2016

Friends of the Ferries

Across the Mersey

c/o 7 Foxcovers Road, Bebington, Wirral, CH63 3EQ

www.friendsoftheferries.org.uk

                                                                                                                                                                                           April 2016

Dear Member,

Our mixed-weather Easter is over, but at least we now have longer days to enjoy, which hopefully will be warm and sunny for trips on the ferry! Use the Mersey Ferries web for the timetable.  (On this topic, please note we now have our new web-site, as above).

Since I last wrote to you, Merseytravel has published its 25 year Long Term Strategy for Mersey Ferries, accompanied by strident protests from bodies outraged by the proposal to eliminate the Woodside stage.  Following our meeting with Merseytravel’s Chair in Spring 2015, we had anticipated the publication of the Consultant’s Report, and sought a meeting last Autumn, but we were unable to discuss the contents with Merseytravel until late December – only a week before a report went to the Merseytravel Committee. The Chair did give us a personal presentation of the Report’s contents, but we only obtained a copy later.  Meanwhile, we hurriedly compiled our comments on the major issues we had, and submitted a letter to the Chair and elected members of Merseytravel for their meeting.   A copy of this letter is enclosed, and you will see our concerns relate chiefly to the economic prosperity of Wirral in the new City Region, and the opportunities for Birkenhead which lie ahead.  Closure of the Woodside stage would have an adverse effect on this.  Other issues referred to include: balancing the budget prematurely, the future of the Royal Daffodil and other heritage assets, the commuter service, and the Manchester Ship Canal cruises.  We welcomed, however, the principle of looking ahead to the future.  At its meeting, Merseytravel approved the broad strategy, but resolved that “officers be requested to look at options around all three terminals; Pier Head, Woodside and Seacombe; that should include a future three terminal service.”  This form of words provides some comfort, but the phrasing allows more wriggle-room than we would prefer.

On the river, we have confirmation that Cammell Laird will build the new Polar Exploration vessel, to be completed in 2019 – a great coup for the firm.  Meanwhile, HMS Caroline, a C-class cruiser built by them in 1914 has been refurbished in Belfast and will be open to the public on 1st June as a museum and conference centre. She is the last survivor of the Battle of Jutland (1916) and carried 325 crew at 28.5 knots, with 4” & 6” guns and torpedoes.  After 1922 she was a training and administration centre.

Joan Roberts is again busy at local fairs, and pleasingly is making steady progress after a recent fall and hip bone operation.

Our Annual Dock and River Cruise takes place on Saturday 25th June, starting at 12.00 noon from Seacombe, then

picking-up at Pier Head and Woodside. Andy Ball and Stuart Wood will give the commentary.  Please make every effort to advertise it to your friends, neighbours and local activity groups. We can send an email poster to people or organizations if you advise us. Tickets bookable below, or from the three ferry terminals. Meanwhile, I hope to see you at our AGM on Wednesday

18th May at Birkenhead YMCA, when our Malcolm McRonald, marine author and cruise-liner lecturer, will speak to us.                         

                                           

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Hodgson

Hon. Chairman.