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Gravesend ferry benefiting from crossing woes

PUBLISHED: 15:25 15 December 2010 | UPDATED: 16:16 15 December 2010

Captain John Potter says problems at the Dartford Crossing have benefited his business.

Captain John Potter says problems at the Dartford Crossing have benefited his business.

Archant

The owner of a historic ferry service under threat of closure has seen an upturn in business. He claims plans for a third Thames crossing holds no danger.

Captain John Potter is undaunted by Kent County Council proposals to create a new crossing in the east of Gravesend and says the impending rise in tolls at the existing Dartford River Crossing, which rise to £2 in April and £2.50 in 2012 will improve his business.

The Gravesend to Essex Duchess M ferry service came under threat earlier this year when Thurrock Council bosses suggested cutting its £40,000 from its annual subsidy, and Kent County Council bosses announced it would not cover the shortfall.

Mr Potter said: “We have already seen an upsurge in business in recent weeks due to issues at the crossing, where there seem to be constant disruptions. While they may be looking at a new crossing they have talked about it for years and it will be many more years before they lift a finger to do anything about it. ”

In the past fortnight the river crossing has been closed several times due to high winds and most recently icy conditions due to the heavy snowfall.

A campaign to preserve the service, which dates back more than 200 years, attracted more than 600 followers and included a march on the Thurrock council offices in April.

Councillors agreed to maintain the subsidy of £88,995, but will review it again next year. Kent County Council will also continue to provide £88,995 in annual subsidy for the service.

Captain Potter is aware the battle is not over but hopes the rise in tolls will help provide more customers.

He said: “If they really want to make that crossing better they should get rid of the tolls. Then I’d really be in trouble.”

l What do you think of the plan for a third crossing? E-mail michael.adkins@archant.co.uk

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