St Ives to Hayle ferry service could begin next April
A PASSENGER ferry link between St Ives and Hayle could become a reality by April.
The idea of a 'park-and-float' scheme in which visitors park in Hayle and go by sea into St Ives was raised at a focus group for the Business Improvement District (BID) plan for St Ives.
St Ives BID Steering Group has been looking at ways to spend the £750,000 it plans to generate if the BID goes ahead. The ferry was suggested by local businesses, as was a better park and ride and "quick hit" improvements such as a facelift for the harbour.
Now one St Ives firm has taken the ferry idea on board. John Johnson, who co-owns St Ives Rib Rides with son Adam, says he has widespread backing for his plan.
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The firm owns two 12-seater rigid inflatable boats (ribs) used for pleasure trips.
It will dedicate one and sometimes both – with a back-up coach service – to providing the new service.
Mr Johnson said he had the backing of Hayle harbour master Peter Haddock and St Ives harbour master Steve Bassett had raised no objections.
He also claims the support of MP George Eustice and businesses such as Hayle's Haven Holiday Park.
Mr Johnson said: "We've still got to iron out the parking, and how it'll be advertised, but the idea's there.
"People would park on North Quay, and we operate from the steps there.
"One of the biggest questions is what would happen when the weather or tide wouldn't let us operate. We'd operate a coach – which I'd buy – from Hayle to St Ives."
Visitors could take advantage of parking in Hayle and get the coach or the boat to St Ives and back, he said.
A key issue will be to ensure the float and ride can compete with Cornwall Council's planned £10 million, 750-space St Erth park and ride.
Mr Johnson said: "Everybody is pushing for this but it has to be feasible. We have to work out what we would charge and whether there would be any subsidies or support from other organisations."
That feasibility could rely on the potential for support from St Ives BID, which has yet to have any discussions with Mr Johnson.
BID Steering Group chairman Paul Ford said: "The idea of a park and float was just one idea that came from our focus groups.
"We have a number of others and we are keen to focus on 'quick hit' ideas that mean we can have a lot of visible effect in a short time if BID goes ahead, and we will reveal these in January.
"But this sounds fantastic. We can't make any promises but we are keen to take conversations like this a lot further quite quickly."