[C]umbria County Council is being asked to review the controversial Windermere Ferry Ticket Machines at its first meeting since the elections in May.
The motion to Full Council is being presented by newly elected Windermere Councillor Ben Berry who has been leading a community campaign for a rethink on the machines.
When the Ferry Ticket Machines were installed in June 2016 by the Labour/Lib Dem Council, they were originally hailed as a digitisation exercise that would “improve efficiency” and “benefit all ferry users”. But the machines didn’t fit the bill and anger soon boiled over after frustrated locals and visitors alike struggled to use the new system. Letters of complaint have piled in ever since with the Council responding by increasing the number of ticket machines and hiring temporary staff to help customers use the machines.
Ben Berry launched a campaign last summer and has been working with the community and users to fight for a simpler system. Commenting on the motion Ben said: “The Council urgently needs to rethink the Ferry Ticket Machines. They are a complete waste of money and are a significant detriment to what was and should be a wonderful asset for our Community. The Council can no longer stick its head in the sand and ignore common sense.”
Letters in the local press have claimed that the Ticket Machines are not only causing anger and frustration but are also reducing the crossings the ferry is taking as tickets are being bought and checked prior to boarding. This means that the service which used to run to an informal timetable can no longer be relied upon.
Jennifer Slee is a user of the Ferry and has been working with Councillor Berry on a petition that has attracted thousands of signatures. Jennifer thanked Ben for the motion saying: “So far the Council have either ignored our calls for change or treated us with contempt. It is high time they listened to what everyone is saying and work with us to come up with a system that suits all needs.”
Leader of the Conservatives on Cumbria County Council is James Airey and he said the issue of the ferry is one that needs tackling. He commended saying: “The strength of feeling behind this from our residents and visitors is only matched by our resolve to rectify this situation. It is simply unacceptable to continue with a system against the wishes of virtually every user. The Council need to admit they got this one wrong, sit down with us and draw up plans to make it right.”
The full motion reads:
“The Council acknowledges that the Windermere Ferry is not only a fantastic asset for the people of Windermere but also the wider County and the many visitors we receive each year. However, the newly installed Windermere Ferry Ticket Machines have proven to be a less than favourable customer experience.
“We recognise the need to undertake a member led review into the current ferry operations with the key aims of identifying a payment solution which is swift, secure, and available on board whilst also safeguarding the income which the Ferry generates.”