The Policy & Resources Committee's announcement that it plans to purchase a passenger ferry for Condor came as a complete surprise to senior politicians in Jersey.
The Committee revealed its intention at a Scrutiny Management Committee public hearing. It expects to invest £15-20million in a new vessel. Committee President, Deputy Peter Ferbrache, said he hoped an additional ferry would play a part in “strengthening Guernsey's sea links”.
Condor confirmed that it is working on the "joint venture" with the States and said it could see a “conventional passenger and freight ship enter service in the Channel Islands".
The ferry company's Chief Executive, John Napton, said the “collaborative purchase” initiative came after “the States of Guernsey expressed an interest in working with us".
Condor – which was bought two years ago by a consortium involving Brittany Ferries – said it would operate the ship in addition to those currently in its fleet rather than as a replacement. It is understood that Condor would lease the new vessel from the States.
Pictured: Deputy Peter Ferbrache, President of the Policy & Resources Committee, has said that improving sea links is one of his top priorities for 2022.
Jersey's Economic Development Minister, Senator Lyndon Farnham, then issued a statement expressing surprise at Guernsey's move.
He said the States of Jersey had been "working closely with Guernsey in recent months to explore all options available to deliver a reliable year-round service for islanders” - but added that news of a ferry purchase by Guernsey was "unexpected".
Senator Farnham said that improving sea links is a priority in Jersey, as it is in Guernsey, and that “a potential addition to the fleet is welcome".
“Discussions remain ongoing and we will continue working together to find the best solution for the islands," he said.
Pictured: Jersey's Economic Development Minister, Senator Lyndon Farnham, wants to continue working with Guernsey on the future of the Channel Islands' sea links but made a point of expressing surprise at the States of Guernsey's intention to buy a ferry.
Jersey's surprise at Guernsey's unilateral plan to buy a ferry may be the latest example of tensions between the Bailiwicks over strategic issues affecting them both - despite an agreement made in 2018 to work together more closely.
Having initially worked on a joint pandemic strategy, the two islands took separate approaches to the management of covid-19.
In 2020, before he became Guernsey's most senior politician, Deputy Ferbrache made critical comments about Jersey's decision making. Jersey's Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré, called the remarks "emotional and ill-informed".
Disagreement over how the Channel Islands' competition authority should be run led the States of Jersey to terminate its operations in April 2020 and set up its own competition authority which has nothing to do with Guernsey, which now also has its own competition authority.
Express spoke to Deputy Ferbrache about his Committee's plan to purchase a ferry, its relations with senior politicians in Jersey and a range of other topical issues for this week’s Bailiwick Podcast.
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