A SENIOR government figure has ruled out creating any 'public service obligation' on ferry companies.
Isle of Wight MP Andrew Turner raised the issue of Wightlink cuts in parliament on Thursday, a day before he met with the Isle of Wight Trades Union Council (TUC) to discuss the situation.
Mr Turner, who described ferry services as a lifeline to the Isle of Wight, told parliament: "In 2009, a market study found the threshold to involve the Competition Commission had been reached, but it was decided not to make a referral.
"Will the Leader of the House arrange for a statement to be made on what alternative remedies might be available?"
House of Commons leader Andrew Lansley said he would arrange for the Departments for Transport and of Business Innovation and Skills to meet with Mr Turner to discuss the issue.
But he ruled out any intervention on competition grounds.
Mr Lansley said: "Without going into detail, let me say that there is no opportunity to intervene over any lack of competition in relation to these services.
"From the Department for Transport point of view, neither is there a case for a public service obligation."
Under European Union law a public service obligation allows subsidies to be paid to companies providing an agreed level of service on unprofitable routes.
On Wednesday, the Isle of Wight Council is to discuss a motion put forward by leader Cllr David Pugh calling for the government to recognise ferry services as vital infrastructure routes, similar to train and bus routes.
Following Mr Lansley's comments, Cllr Pugh said: "I read with interest the Leader of the House’s comments.
"The motion to Full Council does not explicitly seek a public service obligation, but proposes that the Council urges the government that these services should be treated with a similar strategic status to England’s bus and train networks."
Following their meeting with Andrew Turner, Isle of Wight TUC spokesman Steve Butler said: "It is our view that the ferry services cut by Wightlink should be re-instated.
"That would give more opportunity for people to work in mainland employment and also enable Islanders to have more access to mainland venues for social occasions.
"We do urge the MP to seek talks with government departments to obtain some form of subsidies for inward investment that is needed to enable companies to set up businesses.
"At the present time the high cost of ferry services is a barrier in bringing materials to the Island and then returning any finished product to the mainland."
He said the Isle of Wight TUC wanted to be part of any Island delegation to Whitehall to put forward the Island situation.