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Isle's misbehaving ferry to be investigated

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Isle of Wight Council is to call in accountants PriceWaterhouse Coopers to probe its purchase of one of the country’s few chain ferries.

The £3.2m ’floating bridge’ between Cowes and East Cowes entered service last month but has several times run aground and now cannot carry vehicles at low tide.

Cabinet member for infrastructure and transport Ian Ward (Con) said: “The floating bridge is effectively a boat that has not had the benefit of sea trials conducted in private. Its trials have taken place in a very public way with the expectation that things would be perfect from the off.

“Sadly, this has not proven to be the case with much more to be done than might have reasonably been expected.”

Floating bridges of various kinds have operated across the Medina river at Cowes since 1859. They travel fixed to chains rather than as conventional ships.

Council leader Dave Stewart (Con) said a full review would be held of the procurement. Meanwhile the chain lengths would be adjusted to try to allow full vehicle services to resume.

Cllr Stewart said: “A significant amount of public money has been invested in the floating bridge, and it is important for us to be certain that it has been spent in the best possible way.

“I am especially keen to understand the design and build process and the levels of stakeholder involvement in its development.

“The floating bridge is one of the many pressing challenges we have inherited as an incoming administration. I am determined that we own and resolve its problems as quickly as we can and that we are clear about, and act on, the outcomes of the review to ensure we are never in this place again.”

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