UPDATED FRIDAY 14:56*
TRANSPORT secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, confirmed on Thursday there was no likelihood of direct Government subsides for Isle of Wight ferry services.
Mr McLoughlin, who has spent much of the day on the Isle of Wight, met with senior representatives from Wightlink, Red Funnel and Hovertravel on Thursday afternoon, for initial discussions organised by the Isle of Wight Council at Regatta House, Cowes.
It was the first time all operators had collectively met a senior government minister for a meeting of this type and it led to an offer for further talks in Westminster, the council said.
The purpose of the meeting was for the ferry operators to explain to government what barriers they faced in investing to secure affordable and accessible services and infrastructure.
After the meeting, council leader David Pugh said: "I think this meeting underlined the council’s determination to encourage economic growth and assisting Westminster in understanding the uniqueness and special characteristics of the Island is an important part of this.
"I would like to thank the ferry companies for their open and honest input into the meeting and also to the Secretary of State for setting out a positive way forward."
During the meeting, the Secretary of State confirmed there was no likelihood of direct Government subsidies for the Island’s ferry services and welcomed the collective approach operators had taken to growing the ferry market by investment through activity such as tourism promotion.
*However, Steve Butler, Isle of Wight TUC spokesman, called for immediate action on what he described as life-line routes.
He said: "This is how the government treats the largest constituency in the UK. Action should be taken right now."