Ferry strike 'will not pose threat to Plymouth port's future'
BUSINESSES should not be worried about the future of the city's passenger port because it is "inconceivable" that services will cease, a ferry chief says.
Local companies are said to be concerned about the future of Brittany Ferries' routes from Plymouth as a workers' strike continues indefinitely.
Tim Jones, chairman of Devon and Cornwall Business Council, said: "Businesses in the city are definitely worried about the future of Plymouth's port. Anything that disrupts the flow is massively damaging in terms of confidence.
"Plymouth needs its transport links and the link to the European market is absolutely vital. The strikes are profound in terms of the impact they are having on future relationships too.
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"While there is probably more commercial trade from France to the UK, rather than the other way around, it of course destroys the confidence of people to use the ferry port in Plymouth."
But Brittany Ferries insists the port's future is safe.
A spokesperson said: "Businesses do not need to be concerned about the future of services from the city. It is one of our core routes and was one of the first to start operating over 40 years ago.
"As long as we are in operation we will operate services from Plymouth. It's inconceivable that we won't continue to run services from the city."
More talks between ferry chiefs and striking staff took place yesterdayfollowing Brittany Ferries' decision on Friday to tie up the fleet and cancel all crossings.
A company spokesperson said: "The cancellation of all services remains in place as no agreement has been reached with the union.
"As soon as an agreement is reached we will resume services as soon as possible but the agreement must be watertight. We came to an agreement on September 14 which we understood to include no further wildcat strikes but they reneged on the deal.
"We can't tolerate any more strike action. It is grossly unfair to our passengers."
The company estimates around 34,000 passengers have been affected by the strike action which has already cost Brittany Ferries millions of pounds, the spokesperson said.
Amy Newell, 27, of Plympton, is "stranded" in Spain with no idea what to do for the best.
She said: "If we travel to Calais like they advise it will take us around 14 hours in the car and I'll have to drive through two countries. We are having to hang around in places with WiFi so we can keep an eye on Twitter and the company website for information - we can't even enjoy our time here. It's a nightmare and we've been panicking because we need to get home. It has really affected our holiday and made the end of it particularly stressful."