Historic service across River Great Ouse provides vital link from West Lynn to town centre

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Plans for a new amphibious ferry across the River Great Ouse in King’s Lynn have been approved.

The new vehicle could start carrying commuters Lynn as early as January and members of West Norfolk Council’s cabinet approved the move last night.

The council will pay £30,000 towards the cost of the craft because, officers said, the river is now so silted the operators of the ferry are struggling to maintain a reliable service.

The operators, SN Kingston, have a year to run the new service before the cabinet decides how to proceed in recouping the investment.

A report to members said it may be a £3,000 reduction in the annual £20,000 subsidy over then years - but a final decision will be made 12 months from the start of the new operation.

The council’s resources panel tonight gave its backing to the contribution to the ferry’s operators SN Kingston. The investment plan will now be put before the council’s cabinet next week.

A ferry service has operated the Great Ouse since the 13th Century and serves customers from West Lynn, Clenchwarton, Terrington St Clement and the Fens.

Passenger numbers have increased dramatically in the last 12 years, rising 43,000 return passengers in 2000 to 85,000 last year. But she numbers are decreasing again because the ferry is now unable to reach the landing stage on the Lynn side at low tide, meaning passengers have to walk along boards.

The ferry service lost its £25,000 subsidy from Norfolk County Council earlier this year and receives the £20,000 subsidy from West Norfolk Council each year.

A new vessel would take three months to build after the order is placed - meaning it could be launched in January next year.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Gail Kingston, who runs the ferry service with husband Steve, said: “The sandbanks usually occur in the summer months and clear with autumn rainfall but that has not occurred over last two years. This means we are having to deal with sandbanks in the winter now as well as the summer.

“The borough council has been very supportive in helping us come up with solution to the problem. The ferry service is a valuable resource that should be invested in.”

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