LOWER Portland Ferry will be replaced with a spare Roads and Maritime Services vessel, thanks to hard work by Hawkesbury City Council and Hills Shire Council.
The small community of Lower Portland were desperate to save their service last year, after their ferry was withdrawn from the water following an inspection by the RMS in November.
Council voted to form a working party on the matter to devise ways to ensure the service continued running in the area, with locals concerned that without it, their community would wither away.
Council was offered the use of a spare RMS ferry on a short-term basis to enable continuity of service for the community.
Subsequently, a proposal was made by RMS offering Council a recently retired ferry, subject to Council meeting the overhaul and transport cost.
Acceptance of the offer would enable Council to continue use of the spare ferry until the retired vessel was overhauled, with the cost to Council estimated at $200,000 along with an equal contribution from Hills Shire Council.
Councillors thanked Council staff for their work on the matter, namely Council’s director of infrastructure services, Jeff Organ.
Despite giving praise to staff however, Councillor Warwick Mackay admitted that if he had his way, he would have gotten rid of the service altogether.
“We run the service, but mainly Baulkham Hills people use it,” Cr Mackay said.
“If I had it my way it would have been gone.’’
Councillor Bob Porter said finding a replacement ferry for the Lower Portland service was a “major task”.
“It was a big effort between all bureaucratic levels, and it was resolved in a timely manner” he said. Council voted unanimously to endorse the acceptance of the RMS’s offer and make provisions in its current budget for its share of the costs. It also voted to investigate and consult with the community regarding the potential for reduced operating hours to enable a reduction in operating costs.