A FERRY which transports hundreds of schoolchildren and commuters between Hayling and Eastney each day has been grounded for more than a month.
Recently, the owners of the Hayling Ferry have come in for criticism over the way it is run.
The company owes Langstone Harbour Board £10,000 for pontoon fees, meaning it only has a licence to dock until March.
This is despite large subsidies given to the company by Hampshire County Council.
The ferry service shut down on December 17 for annual maintenance and was due to reopen on January 3.
But bad weather caused delays to repairs and the service may not even be up and running by the end of this week.
Now ferry user Phil Brown, from Eastney, says he believes the contract to run the ferry service should go out to tender.
He said: ‘Bar one day, this will amount to four weeks out of service for an enterprise that receives most of its funding from public subsidies. It is disgraceful.
‘And all the time the owner owes the Langstone Harbour Board £10,000 and seems to be holding them to ransom with threats of closure.
‘Well, it’s already closed as we can’t use the service. We agree with Councillor Frank Pearce. Put the service out to tender.’
But Tina Edwards, manager of the family firm, said the delay in restarting the service is purely down to the weather and they are trying to find a replacement ferry by the end of the week while the other one is fixed.
She said welding needs to be done but when the engines were taken out the boat yard and the ferry itself flooded, causing major delays.
Ms Edwards added: ‘This is why we are getting a second boat, so we don’t have delays again. Going forward, we have seen we can’t base everything on a timescale, the weather is not our friend. We need a second boat.’
It is hoped a second ferry will be in place by the end of the week.