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Condor Ferries could switch to Poole from Weymouth when it brings in bigger vessels, report reveals
5:10am Thursday 17th April 2014 in News
CONDOR Ferries is set to move its operation to Poole next year because its new boats won't fit its current home.
The Daily Echo has learnt that the future of the firm in Weymouth remains uncertain following plans to replace its existing vessels with a new and larger hydrofoil.
A Weymouth and Portland Borough Council report revealed that Condor has rejected using the refurbished No 3 Berth in Weymouth port due to the size of the new vessel, despite £4m worth of repair works just being spent on the harbour wall.
It says that the ferry firm favours using No 1 Berth, which will need £10 million to make it fit for purpose.
That has left the cash-strapped council debating its next move - and means that Poole is likely to benefit for at least a year, if not longer.
If work on No 1 berth went ahead, Condor would switch its cross-Channel sailings to Poole for the 2015 season and return to Weymouth the following year.
Last night, Elaine Atkinson, leader of Borough of Poole, said: “We would be delighted for Poole, but sorry for Weymouth's loss.
“We've been working really hard to enhance the port in Poole and this could only add to that.
“It would bring significant sums to our local economy and it will at least be staying in Dorset.”
Weymouth borough councillor Ian Bruce confirmed the contents of the confidential report, which was shown to councillors, and revealed that the move had sparked problems between the council and Condor.
Cllr Bruce said it was thought a deposit has already been put down on the new hydrofoil.
Captain Fran Collins, ports and guests services director at Condor Ferries, said: “We are considering options for a new vessel in the fleet and are engaging in discussions with all ports across our network of routes between the UK, Channel Islands and France.”
Sailings are currently bookable up until March 24, 2015, she added.
IN November last year, councillors heard that Condor Ferries was set to sign a 15-year contract to use Weymouth as its main route to and from the Channel Islands.
Condor switched to Poole for 17 months while Weymouth's crumbling quay was repaired in a project worth more than £4million. As Weymouth port's biggest customer, Condor - which returned last July - brings at least £7.7million a year to the local economy.
Condor revealed it was planning to bring in a new vessel to sail out of Weymouth in April 2015, but concerns have now been raised about the ferry firm's demands.
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