Causeway Council has hit back at claims it is responsible for a “hold-up” in awarding the contract for the Foyle Ferry service.
The former operators, Foyle Ferry Company Ltd, stopped service between Magilligan and Greencastle last November and did not renew the contract for the summer season. The ‘Journal’ understands the contract for the new service will be for a three-year period and it is expected to go to tender in the near future.
SDLP councillor Gerry Mullan believes the tender should have been awarded and says the “hold up” is “unacceptable and likely to cost tourism in the Causeway Coast dearly in lost revenue”.
“I am investigating claims by a Donegal County councillor that it took Causeway Coast and Glens Council eight weeks to respond to Donegal County Council and, after doing so, is making what I and others believe are outrageous demands about the collection of Crown Fees, a demand for a percentage of the turnover and a licence fee which will only put potential operators off and hold up the awarding of the contract until the season is virtually over,” Colr. Mullan said in a statement. “In the meantime, international tourists following the highly successful tourist trail, Wild Atlantic Way, are arriving in Donegal in considerable numbers and many want to continue their journey to the Giant’s Causeway but can’t because the ferry service is not operating.”
Colr. Mullan added: “This hold-up needs to be sorted out today.”
When asked about the claims, a Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council spokesperson responded: “Council can confirm that it did not take eight weeks to respond to Donegal County Council with documentation about the tender, this was a collaborated process involving both Councils. The tender documentation assembly process has now finished.
“Council has to meet obligation costs (mandatory payment to Crown Estates), this is minimal cost and is sensitive commercial information prior to imminent tender – this cost is not prohibitive to the contract.
“The licence fee is in place to allow tenderers /operators to place a value on such an agreement. This is a competitive process and is essential that operators can compete. This figure will be set by the operator.”