A leading South Lakes councillor is calling on Cumbria’s Liberal Democrat and Labour County Council to draw on the UK’s world-beating marine engineering industry to help speed up the re-start of the Windermere Ferry service.
Councillor James Airey, the Conservative group leader on Cumbria County Council, made the call as the suspension of the council-run service approaches its second month following an engine fire at the end of May.
While the ferry remains closed, up to 800 cars each day are being forced to make a 15-mile detour on local roads to reach the other side the Lake.
Last week, the county council said that the service was unlikely to resume until October.
Councillor Airey, said: “The school summer holidays are a crucially important period for the area’s local economy and sees increased demand for Windermere’s ferry service.
“As businesses, residents and local motorists get ready for the peak of our summer tourist season, the council needs to start putting a concerted effort into getting Windermere Ferry up and running.
“It’s not good enough for the Ferry to be marooned for five months while the council ponders how to fix a damaged engine. We’re blessed in this country with some of the best marine engineers in the world. It’s time for the council to start picking up the phone and doing what it takes to get the Ferry back into service before this year’s summer season is lost.”
The Windermere Ferry has been operating for more than 500 years. The original craft were rowed across the lake, later ferries were steam driven and the most recent ones have had diesel engines. The current ferry ‘Mallard’ is the largest so far; a craft which carries up to 18 cars and over 100 passengers.
The ferry takes people, vehicles, horses and cycles across the lake, reducing traffic on the surrounding narrow roads and easing congestion and pollution. It also links the busy eastern shore of the lake and the countryside between Windermere and Coniston on the west.