POTENTIAL CHANGES TO THE USER AGREEMENT - Harbours Division Press Release
Since the appointment as Minister for the Department of Infrastructure, David Cretney has met senior representatives of management and the Board of the IOM Steam Packet Company on a number of occasions because of its importance to daily life on our Island.
The well publicised difficulties experienced by the Steam Packet’s vessel Ben-my-Chree before Christmas 2011, together with the disruption to ferry services caused by a prolonged period of severe weather was reviewed by the Department on 22nd December 2011. At a further meeting between the Department and the Steam Packet Board held on 24th January 2012 to consider whether the existing User Agreement remained in the best interest of our Island in its current form or whether any changes were needed, it was agreed that initial discussions would be commenced.
The Department considers that a range of related issues can be discussed; for example, future investment in Douglas Harbour and the Steam Packet’s fleet, destination ports in the UK and Ireland, and frequency and quality of service provided by the Steam Packet. Once the Company and the Department have agreed on the prioritized matters to be discussed, more formal discussions will be programmed. It is expected that both short and long-term matters will be included, and of immediate interest would be the resilience of the Company’s services and its contingency plan to overcome foreseeable risks such as breakdowns. Longer term issues are likely to include whether or not to have a further or extended User Agreement and, if so, its structure, future ownership of the Company, investment in new ships and port infrastructure, destination ports in UK and Ireland.
The current User Agreement dates from 1995 and was extended and improved in 2002 and 2004. The present Agreement will run until 2026, including the six year extension that can be implemented by either the Department or the Steam Packet Company.
The User Agreement was designed to provide the Isle of Man with a minimum lifeline service required for both social and commercial purposes. The 2012 published Steam Packet schedule fulfils the User Agreement requirements.
Captain Michael Brew : 686615