THE Sandbanks Ferry Company has submitted a revised toll increase proposal to the Planning Inspectorate following last minute feedback from local councils.

Following the submission of a toll increase application by the company in February of this year, a consortium of local councils – Dorset, BCP and Swanage Town – submitted a counter-proposal in November.

This was on the eve of a Planning Inspectorate enquiry, called to look into the original ticket hikes proposed, which has now been adjourned until January.

Now the ferry company says its own revised proposal, which represent an initial increase of just 50p for cars in 2021, seeks to address a number of 'issues with the consortium's proposal.'

Under these latest proposals single ticket car tolls would rise from the current £4.50 to £6.50, but over a phased 12-year period.

Mike Kean, managing director of the Sandbanks Chain Ferry, said: “I welcome the constructive, albeit last minute, intervention from these important local councils into the toll increase application.

“Much of their proposal shows a pragmatic understanding of the way in which the ferry company is governed by the Act of Parliament and how it can go about securing the future of the service by putting funds aside annually to replace the Bramble Bush Bay when she retires.

“That is why we have sought to retain the best of these proposals and improve where needed to create an application that we believe can and will work for everyone going forward.”

In particular, the consortium’s three annual increases over 12 years would see single ticket car tolls jump immediately from the current £4.50 to £5.50 per journey, ferry bosses say.

The chain ferry company says this could add £10 per week to a daily commuter’s journey from 2021, 'disproportionately impacting those on lower wages who may not be able to take advantage of the bulk ticket discount options already available'.

A Sandbanks Chain Ferry spokesman said: "The ferry company’s revised application proposes an initial increase of just 50p for cars in 2021 followed by planned, transparent small annual increases at a more gradual level over the proposed 12 year period, taking six years to reach the £5.50 proposed by the consortium for introduction in 2021.

"Furthermore the ferry company’s revised proposal also reiterates that no class of toll would be increased by 50 per cent or doubled immediately, as some parties have suggested. The maximum chargeable tolls – the amount the company can apply for under legislation - will be phased in over a twelve year period.

"The consortium’s proposal also fails to take into account the revenue reductions seen by the ferry company in alternate years due to the bi-annual Bramble Bush Bay refits. The ferry company’s revised proposal rectifies this omission.

"The ferry company’s revised proposal also seeks to ensure that costs for local residents who regularly travel by car are offered at an increased discount level, taking discounts up to 32 per cent less than single ticket prices, effectively freezing the cost of book tickets for yet another year."