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Royal Daffodil to be taken out of service
ONE of the three Mersey Ferries will be taken out of service from January in a bid to tackle a £1m deficit.
The Royal Daffodil is to be laid up as Ferries operator Merseytravel tailor the world-famous service "to meet current demand and operating conditions".
Staff have been consulted about the proposal, and detailed talks are taking place around crewing and hours.
Merseytravel say any decisions affecting the workforce will be made in agreement with the unions, and redundancies are not anticipated.
The decision was taken by Tunnels, Ferries and Visitor Economy Committee after considering a recommendation today.
Cllr Liam Robinson, chair of Merseytravel, said: “The decision to take one vessel out of service will not materially affect the Mersey Ferries service to the public - and it certainly doesn’t signify any threat to this operation.
“We recognise the place the Ferries hold in Merseyside lore and culture, and that they are an essential part of our heritage. We are committed to keeping them in operation.
“But we also have to recognise that times have changed. Passenger numbers have fallen, to around 650,000 annually, and an operating deficit of £1million per annum cannot be sustained.
“Also, vessels are more reliable now and we know we can operate an almost unchanged service with two vessels.”
Talks are also taking place about an agreement for the surplus vessel to be loaned to a local museum or trust, with the option for it to be called back into service if necessary.
Cllr Robinson added: “We are actively looking at other ways of reducing Ferries costs overall, as well as disposing of one vessel, to cut the operating deficit. Reducing the number of vessels is just one part of the process.
“The Ferries offer an excellent service for the people of the city region – and are a great draw for tourists from all over the world.
"Greater use of this service by tourists and local people alike will ensure a secure future for an attraction which is synonymous with Merseyside. We are totally committed to keeping the Ferries on the river.”