BringBackTheSwanseaCorkFerry.com Newsletter – August '08
Hi folks !
It's been a while since the last newsletter – but in the meantime we've all been very busy campaigning and spreading the word about the ferry. Here's a quick update on what's been happening since the last newsletter.
We'd like you to fill in our new Survey
Signatures and comments on the e-petition have gone from strength to strength – as I type this the total is fast approaching 1,600 – which is a great achievement considering the relatively short time we've been campaigning. The e-petition on its own won't bring the ferry back – but it does serve as a very valuable indication of the strength of feeling expressed by you, and the desperate need for the restoration of the ferry. The massive support you've given us so far gives the campaign real credibility – thank you.
So..... if every one of you who reads this email could encourage just six of your friends, customers or colleagues to add their support by signing the e-petition, we'd be comfortably clear of the magic 'ten thousand' mark – which would be really impressive.
How about it ? - please send some emails today...
Show that you care! - stickers and new badges
So far over 600 of you have taken the time to download and print our car/window/everything sticker. We feel that the 'downloadable' sticker is a green alternative to conventional vinyl stickers – and they are certainly easier to distribute.
Many of you have asked for a more 'personal' way to show your support for the campaign – so we have secured a limited supply of smart button badges – which have been tipped as this summer's top fashion accessory! They can be purchased at Hosfords Garden Centre, or from the Inspired-glass stall at local (West Cork) craft & farmers' markets. For those of you who can't get to either of these venues, don't despair – they are also available by mail order from our website!
High-level support for the Campaign
You may have seen the reports on the News pages of the website about the latest initiative started by the new County Mayor of Cork – Noel Harrington. A native of the Beara peninsula, Noel is well aware of the tremendous impact of the ferry on our tourist industry – and has mobilised a number of high-ranking local government officials, across all political parties, counties and even countries to help with the campaigning.
Well done that man! - we await further developments with interest.
The Welsh Connection
Support for the campaign has been growing in South Wales – and we even got a mention on the BBC South Wales website (which resulted in the 'hits' counter on our website going quite mad for a day or two!) The impact of the ferry has been felt in South Wales – not only has the area suffered from the loss of people passing through to destinations in Ireland, but there was also a thriving traffic with folks travelling from Ireland to the bright lights of Swansea.
Top marks to Siân James MP (Member of Parliament for Swansea East) who has written to the Secretary of State for Wales about our ferry campaign. Siân also hopes to hold a debate in the UK House of Commons in the Autumn on this matter.
Fair wages for the Ferry Crew
There were always rumours surrounding the pay and conditions in place on the last Swansea-Cork ferry – it appears that various 'cunning plans' were involved to avoid UK / Irish minimum wage regulations. Thanks to the Welsh TUC and the IFT for bringing this situation to our attention.
Looking forwards – we'd like to ensure that any new operator pays their crew a reasonable wage, without coercion or pressure on the crew. There's a question on our new Survey about this – please think carefully about it before answering.
After all – wouldn't you rather that the crew who are responsible for your health and safety on-board the Ferry were working reasonable hours for a living wage?
Who's who at the Campaign ?
Over the past few months we've been delighted at the level of support we've received from people who are desperate to see the Swansea-Cork ferry back in service. Every little helps – but some folks have been particularly generous with their time. Here's some brief details of the people behind the campaign.
Dermot Sheehan – Cork County Councillor, and a tireless advocate of the ferry service. He's been campaigning since before the campaign started! - and never misses an opportunity to raise the issue at Council meetings. Living in Goleen (even further west than Ballydehob!) he's got first hand-experience of the devastating effects of the drop in visitor numbers, and, like all of us, wants to see the ferry reinstated as soon as possible.
Dave Walters – a frequent visitor to West Cork, but lives in South Wales, where he acts as our researcher, and general contact with Councils and representatives in South Wales and further afield into England.
John Hosford – Owner of Hosfords Garden Centre & Cafe, between Clonakilty & Bandon. John's our 'public face' – and is always ready to give hard-hitting interviews to press or radio/tv.
Also involved in a phenomenal amount of lobbying behind the scenes – he knows everybody!
Chris Taylor – Our PR / Media guru has many years experience of producing attention-grabbing press releases and media campaigns. Lives in the UK but attempts to manage a slightly wild garden in Co Kerry – would like the ferry back in service and complains that Ryanair won't let him bring his chainsaw across as hand-luggage! Can't think why ?<grin>
Cionnaith Ó Súilleabháin - a Town Councillor in Clonakilty, frequently campaigning within the tourist industry to raise awareness of the ferry situation and generate support for the cause. Also continues to raise the issue of the Ferry at Clonakilty Town Council meetings, and around the town.
Adrian Brentnall – A recent 'blow-in' from the UK, a crafter working in stained glass and fused glass, loves the West Cork / Kerry area and would like it to be more accessible so that more visitors could come and enjoy it too. General web-wizard and publicity person.
...and You! - If you have a particular skill that you'd like to add to our little team then we'd be delighted to hear from you. The pay is non-existent, the hours are unsocial, but the craic's good and John's promised us each a free cup of coffee and a big slice of cake when the new ferry docks at Ringaskiddy! Email us if you'd like to help.
A few weeks ago we did some analysis of your comments on the e-petition
– and came up with the following interesting statistics.
Other routes are much less convenient than Swansea-Cork 48%
It’s affecting tourism (or) we would use the ferry as tourists 42%
We’ve reduced the number of trips we make to Ireland
(or stopped altogether) since the ferry stopped 30%
The extra travelling is preventing us from seeing our friends and family 23%
The extra travelling is bad for road safety 14%
It’s affecting employment & industry 10%
It’s bad for the environment 10%
From the point of view of our local tourist industry, the 30% of you who have either reduced your visits to West Cork & Kerry – or even stopped coming altogether – is reflected in the very quiet tourist season this year.
If you're looking for a quiet, get-away-from-it-all, holiday – with affordable accommodation and no need to book tables in restaurants – then you need to visit West Cork & Kerry – preferably in the next month or so!
All joking apart – the loss of the ferry is yet another factor (along with the credit crunch, the decline in the building industry, exchange rates, and general financial uncertainly) that's making life difficult for everybody in this beautiful part of the Country. According to a report in the Independent (see our News pages) – even traditional 'hotspots' like Killarney are feeling the pinch, with accommodation being offered at unheard-of discounts even in the 'height' of the summer season.
However, unlike all the other doom&gloom factors – the Ferry 'problem is something that could be so easily solved – it just needs a boat, a crew, and yourselves to travel on it and make it a success.
We simply must get the Swansea-Cork ferry service restored – so please do whatever you can to spread the word, and lobby your elected representatives (see their contact details on the Help Us page).
We'd like your views (again!)
Despite all the publicity that we (and you) have been generating about the need for the Swansea-Cork ferry – there are still the odd doubters. A recent newspaper article quoted a prominent Cork Councillor as saying that he '...wants to establish the viability of the link and its value to the region'.
So – if you have a spare five minutes, please take the time to complete our online survey.
We hope that the responses you give will show, beyond all doubt (!) the need for this vital link to be reinstated.
We'd like you to fill in our new Survey
We will use the information you provide to redouble our publicity / pr efforts, and hopefully, speed up the return of the Swansea-Cork link. As the months pass, it becomes even more of a race against time to get things in place for the 2009 season.
If you don't mind, we will pass on your email addresses (from the Survey) to the next operator of this ferry – and they can then contact you direct when they are taking bookings.
If a potential operator says 'How do I know I'll have any customers?' we can respond by saying – “Well – here's 1,500 families to get you started” – which will be a huge incentive for them – and we might even be able to work out some kind of 'loyalty discount' for you all.
Needless to day – we'll not share your email details with anybody else.
We'd like you to fill in our new Survey
That's about all for now – need to get back to the campaigning.
Please do whatever you can to help – encourage some friends to sign our petition, buy a badge, display the car/window/whatever sticker, complete our survey – just remember – every little helps!
As one of our early e-petitioners said
I am just one more voice who won’t be heard on my own.
Let’s all shout together!
Thank you for your support so far – let's keep it up!
Adrian Brentnall – co-organiser www.bringbacktheswanseacorkferry.com
email - firstname.lastname@example.org