POLITICAL leaders on both sides of the Channel have given a strong commitment to work together to secure the future of the ports of Dieppe and Newhaven and the Transmanche ferry line.
Sbastien Jumel, who is Mayor of Dieppe and Vice President of the Conseil Gnral of Seine Maritime, led a delegation of senior politicians from Dieppe who visited Newhaven today.
They met with local MP Norman Baker and political leaders of Newhaven Town Council and Lewes District Council.
Top of the agenda for the meeting was the future of the ferry line and the programme for the regeneration of the Port of Newhaven.
Mr Jumel said, "This important meeting stresses the fact that the Transmanche ferry line is hugely important to the people of Newhaven and Dieppe.
"Our contract with LD Lines to run the Transmanche ferry has several years to run and we need to use that time to build up increases in passenger and freight traffic.
"LD Lines has a contractual commitment to run at least two return ferry crossings per day. We consider it is necessary for LD Lines to keep up the high standard of service that they have achieved."
Norman Baker MP said, "Our meeting with Monsieur Jumel and his team today was practical and businesslike.
"It shows that there is absolute determination of both sides that the ferry must continue. Our joint commitment to working for major investment in Newhaven Port will bring many commercial opportunities for Newhaven and the surrounding area.
"We need to concentrate on the right kind of public and private investment in the Port to secure its future."
Judith Ost Leader of Newhaven Town Council said, "The public authorities in France have shown their commitment to the Port through their substantial investment in the Transmanche Ferry.
"Although councils in the UK do not have such wide powers as those in France, we will continue to work hard to attract investment into the Port."
Ann De Vecchi, Leader of Lewes District Council, said, "We have made a significant contribution to the regeneration of the West Quay and we are actively involved in planning the next steps for the future of the Port.
"The ferry service is crucial to the joint interests of the people of Newhaven and Dieppe and we know that there are many ways which the two ports can work together."
Sbastien Jumel added, "The public authorities in Normandy have made a major investment in the ferry service.
"Now we want the strategic value of the links between the ports of Dieppe and Newhaven to be recognised in the economic plans for the South East of England.
"We need to take every opportunity to promote the ferry. For example, the Olympics in 2012 will attract lots of people from Europe to the south east.
"We will be able to offer them one of the cheapest and most direct routes for passengers and freight."