Concern about ‘restrictive nature’ of ferry tender

The Foyle Ferry (file pic)
The Foyle Ferry (file pic)

There are concerns the “restrictive nature” of the tender for the Foyle Ferry service will put off potential operators.

Foyle Ferry Company Ltd stopped service between Magilligan and Greencastle last November and did not renew the contract for the summer season.

A new tender was advertised this week after discussions between Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council and Donegal County Council about resumption of the cross border service.

Criteria sets out it will be offered for an initial three-year period, from 1st June 2016 to 31st May 2019. Tenderers will have the options to extend the contract for a further two periods of two years each.

However, unlike previously, there will be no subvention from either Council which,some worry, could put off potential operators.

“The conditions laid out in this tender document are hardly conducive to any potential ferry operator submitting a bid,” said SDLP Colr. Gerry Mullan. “If they do, I will be delighted, but it is difficult to see how the service can operate, at least in the short term, without a subvention which would allow a decent and regular service at realistic prices for the customers.”

East Derry Sinn Fein MLA Cathal O’hOisin said: “I know there had been a number of expressions of interest, but I would be concerned these would now dissipate because of the restricted nature of the tender document. It remains to be seen if this will attract any potential operator.”

There is additional provision for access to one toilet facility in Magilligan Point Terminal for a fee of £500 per annum, according to the tender document, but it will be serviced and maintained by the operator, not the councils.

“Please note a 0.5% turnover fee plus a rent of £1250 base rate per annum due to The Crown Estate is payable to the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council. The Operator will cover this cost.”

Potential tenderers are also advised neither of the Councils “envisages providing for any significant investment in upgrading or improving the current berths as a result of this contract”.