THE Sandbanks Ferry has been put in jeopardy by inflation and tax rises, its operator warns.

Managing Director Jason du Toit said the costs of running the chain ferry have “risen exponentially”, and tolls need to be increased.

Sandbanks Ferry, which connects Sandbanks and Studland, has been running for more than 100 years.

On Wednesday, the company announced it was under “heavy financial strain” due to rising costs in running the ferry coupled with "the pressure of increased corporation tax and lower than projected income". 

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The operator said it aims to, with the support of the Department for Transport, align tolls with inflation and reduce some of the "unsustainable discounts" currently available whilst increasing others.

At a meeting, which included Councillors from both BCP and Dorset Councils, the ferry company agreed with stakeholders that should inflation ever become negative it would mean a reduction in tolls.

The initiative received ‘unilateral support’, according to the ferry operator.

Jason du Toit said: “The costs of running the ferry service have risen exponentially whilst income has fallen in real terms.

“To ensure the continued operation of the ferry service beyond the next decade we have explored all options open to us.”

The present Sandbanks Ferry - Bramble Bush Bay - came into service in January 1994 and is the fourth ferry to operate since the company started in 1923.

Every two years, the chain ferry undergoes a refit, alternating between major and minor refits.

Service stopped in October 2022 when the ferry went for a scheduled major refit that was supposed to last just four weeks.

However, while the ferry was being towed to Falmouth, it sustained damage which pushed back the return date for the craft.

During the tow, the prow arms were severely bent which one boat expert described as “a major problem”.

After prows were fitted, and a number of system and operational checks were taken, the ferry was able to return to service in February 2023.

Then, in July, Sandbanks Ferry celebrated its centenary.