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BringBackTheSwanseaCorkFerry Campaign Newsletter
- 29th April 2009

Hi folks !

It's time for another update from the Campaign - as we know from your calls and emails, that you're all very keen to know what's been happening.

We now have a Ferry Status Page online - that gives an up-to-the-minute summary of where we are with the various activities that will bring back the ferry.

Update on progress with the Julia

The New Deal
Under the new deal approved at the co-op AGM (see last newsletter), the co-op will own the new ship. The co-op board are currently looking at various options of running the ferry - essentially this boils down to engaging a management company to look after the marine operations for a contracted price or putting in place a management team from CEO down, to run the ferry company with the co-op overseeing the overall financial performance. This differs from the original plan in that the co-op was to have a part-share in the finances, but (after lengthy discussions) the consortium of local business investors failed to come through with investment - so now the co-op is in charge. This means much more work for the co-op but ensures that we will have control over the service long-term!

Suppliers to the new service
Since the AGM, the Board of the co-op have been busy interviewing prospective operators for the new service. The co-op has also been besieged by potential suppliers of everything from bar supplies to books and publications - which is great! In a competitive tender, all other things being equal, the co-op will seek to give preference to suppliers who have already shown their support for the project (often by becoming pledge investors) - as they feel that these people are more likely to give the necessary long-term commitment to the ferry service. If you are interested in becoming a supplier then contact Paul O'Brien (Co-op General Manager), who, by a happy conicidence, is also the person who deals with pledge investment.

Marketing money pledged!
Noel Harrington (County Mayor of Cork and a great supporter of the Campaign) reports that Cork Council have confirmed they will support the marketing efforts for the new service with up to €250K of funding. Effective marketing will be an essential part of the re-establishment of the ferry service and will be a crucial part of the success of the ferry in its early years. Failte Ireland (the Irish Tourist Board) are providing funding together with Kerry County Council and Cork City Council which will bring the fund up to €500K. The co-op is seeking to ensure that this funding continues for at least three years to really provide a firm foundation in what is sure to be a challenging market.

Our Day in Court - (or rather more than just the one day....)
We're waiting on the Finnish Courts to approve the sale of the Julia to the co-op. They are involved because the previous owners are in liquidation, and they are acting to safeguard the interests of the original creditors. The co-op has engaged the services of some Finnish legal experts to help move this along - but unfortunately we still do not have a definite completion date for the sale.

New Curtains, Cushions and Bow Doors
There have been some wild rumours circulating about the work that will be done on the ship in the six weeks between the sale and her going into service.

Just to clarify the situation :

- we will be fitting a new internal door to the car-deck. This is necessary so that the ship can be certified for Irish Sea operation. A suitable door has been identified, and can be fitted when the ship is dry-docked for the general checks and maintenance to be performed.

- we will not be fitting a new Bow Door - as there is nothing at all wrong with the one that's already there.....

- we will not be refitting all of the curtains and soft furnishings in the cabins. They are currently perfectly serviceable (if a tiny bit dated) - and, if necessary, this work can be done once the ship is in service

Massive response to Fastnet Line pre-booking site
Within hours of the co-op's decision to go ahead with the purchase of the Julia, the 'advance booking' facility on the temporary Fastnet Line website (www.fastnetline.com) was snowed under with people looking to register an interest in travelling on the new service.

At one stage, so many people were trying to access the site that our web servers couldn't keep up with demand - (sorry for that!) - but hopefully you all got through in the end. Currently more than 3,000 families and individuals have registered - and we're doing all we can to get things in place so that you can book your tickets!

Once the dates and booking system are in place we will contact you all by email, and you can book your tickets online.

Dave Young / C013
Like many people in West Cork, we were shocked to hear that the only radio show dedicated to listeners in West Cork has been axed. Dave Young, ex-presenter of C103's West Cork Today (a daily talk show which covered all sorts of local issues) was suddenly sacked, - and his slot was absorbed into the North Cork show, which originates from Mallow.

Dave has been a great friend to the Campaign over the past 12 months - and we will miss him and his programme greatly. Read more about the situation & sign the petition here.

John Hosford - West Cork's Ambassador to Swansea!
The Campaign's very own John Hosford, fresh from being honoured with a "Special Achievement Award" at the Bandon Opinion 20th Annual Community Awards Ceremony - seems to have assumed the role of West Cork Ambassador to Swansea!

In addition to presenting the case for the ferry to the Welsh Assembly on 5th May, he has also arranged a performance by the Swansea Male Voice Choir at the Garden Centre on 27th May. John hopes that, with the reintroduction of the ferry service linking our two Celtic nations, this visit will be the first of many 'cultural exchanges'. Full details on the Hosfords website

And finally...
The usual message - but no less sincere for being repeated  ..
A very big "thank you" to all of the people who have supported the campaign since it started in April 2008 - and who continue to support us as we draw ever-closer to success!

The pledge-line and online donations schemes are still in operation - and if you'd like to join in then you are very welcome.

We won't relax until the new ship is safely tied up in Ringaskiddy - but we are pleased to say that day is getting ever-closer!

If you don't like graphs and figures - stop reading now! - as the final part of this newsletter contains a summary of the results from the User Survey that we've been running for a while. This has given us valuable 'market research' information - and we will be passing the findings on to the company who will be running the ferry for us.

Keep watching the website for the latest news!

Adrian - Campaign co-organiser


Results of the BringBacktheSwanseaCorkFerry User Survey - here