A big thank you to Michael Player for his excellent post:
I have lived on the Island for over 20 years and seen the ever increasing price of the Ferry travel and the decrease in service. Some island residents cannot any longer afford to cross the Solent and feel trapped. I am please I am not one of them.
Having been a serving Police Officer I want to address the issue often raised by those oppose to a fixed link.
Most crimes in the UK are committed by local people in their home area.
Crime on the island is increasing as in all areas and is made up of mainly domestic related maters such as assaults against partners, alcohol and drug related offences. This would not change with a fixed link. The only crimes which the island would become more vulnerable to are Burglary and car crime. Car Crime has decreased greatly due to the manufacturers designing out the ease of theft. The island has CCTV cameras at each Ferry port and it is these that prevent mainland offenders coming here to steal cars. This would not change as the Fixed link would also be controlled by Cameras.
The Police being both Hampshire Constabulary here and on the mainland have a vested interest in supporting each other. As far as Burglary goes, yes elderly island residents are vulnerable as they are everywhere, but we here do not suffer from rouge travellers as the mainland does, who specialise in stealing from the vulnerable. Why is this ? because the Ferry companies work with the Police to prevent them coming here. The Police in Hampshire have a robust policy against such offenders this would continue as the control on the Fixed link could also work with the Police to stop then coming to the island, and if they did the Police here as they do now would be able to stop them as they leave. As far as other Burglary is concerned it is mainly committed by Drug users to pay for drugs this would not change amongst island drug users, of which we have above average numbers for the population size. As for mainland offenders coming here why would they? and get caught on CCTV which they have to pass twice not worth the risk when they can as they usually do steal in their home area. I would envisage any CCTV system could also include vehicle recognition and check all vehicle entering and leaving the island.
Most people coming to the island are here for pleasure not crime , hotel bed numbers would be the same, so limited space. Day trippers could be controlled as Island residents would have a pass, like those used on American toll roads which are read by electronic readers and the cost is calculated and a monthly bill sent to the car owner. This preventing time and ques. The lanes for non pass holders could be closed when an agreed number of cars had entered the island. Now there is no control as the Ferry companies fill the ferries up as full as possible and the ferries are getting bigger all the time.
A Fixed link would be open 24 hours ,island residents would not be subjected to ever increasing prices, cancelled crossings , weather conditions, technical problems, staff shortages and the many other excuse given for poor service. It would allow island residents to travel for work and earn a decent living and force the island companies who take advantage of a captured work force paying low and often minimum wages. Quote by Senior staff of Large department store, question ” why do Island staff get lower rates of pay than mainland staff for the same jobs?”. Reply ” Because we can, look at the number of people who want jobs here, if you don’t want the job many others do.” The management speak for this is Market forces allows us to exploit Island workers.
I am sure all emergency services would also welcome the fact they can get assistance and support quickly from the mainland unlike now if required. I know of some occasions when due to exceptional circumstances support was needed and we could not get it quickly and had to wait for Ferry’s if they were running. On one occasion the Fire service were so stretched fire engines had to be put on standby in Hampshire but could not get here because of the Ferry not working. The Police had to hire at great cost a Ferry in 2000 just to be on standby in case the predicted chaos occurred and support was needed, thankfully it was not required. Think of the cost Police and Ambulance services ( that’s our money) have to pay the Ferry companies to provide us with a service, this would be free on a fixed link. Think about Hospital visits, mainland treatment, no time restraints I could go on.