Condor: Ferry nice work if you can get it

Condor: Court them or abort them?


WEYMOUTH’S relationship with the ferry company, Condor, has all the tiffs of an ardent suitor courting a flirtatious woman.

The attraction between the two is clear since Condor gets the port most suited to providing its ferry service and Weymouth gets much needed revenue and the headline position as the Gateway to the Channel Islands.

But – just like true love – the course of ferry courtship never did run smooth.

Weymouth is now a less than able-bodied suitor, needing to use a stick having shot itself in the foot over poor future planning which saw major harbour wall repairs suddenly required at a cost of more than £4 million. Work to Berth 3 was carried out against an embarrassing backdrop of Condor moving to Poole while it was carried out.

And just like a woman who feels she’s hooked her man, Condor is now pushing the boundaries of that relationship with the shock news that it suddenly doesn’t want Berth 3.

Oh no! Condor wants Berth 1 and has stamped its foot and warned it could go to Poole if it doesn’t get what it wants.

This is because Berth 1 is bigger, because Condor is buying a huge new ferry and because that new and larger hydrofoil is a massive 102 metres long instead of the more modest 86 metres of its existing ferry.

All this has seen a certain cooling in the relationship between the two lovers with Condor refusing to sign an agreement with Weymouth.

Lowering the temperature has been the spectre of a £10 million bill for the conversion of Berth 1 to suit Condor’s bigger needs.

This includes the minefield of a Harbour Revision Order which might see Condor operate from Poole for up to two years while the niceties are thrashed out and berth conversion work is completed.

The council says it can’t and won’t pay that sort of money, Condor says it won’t foot the bill and both sides are now “holding talks”, presumably in an attempt to keep the relationship smouldering.

Such a volatile partnership is nothing new and Weymouth must now seriously weigh up whether Condor really is indispensable or whether it should be cut adrift to carry out its threat to go to Poole.

Moving to the eastern port is not in Condor’s interests because of weather and fuel consumption problems which make it a poorer commercial prospect not least because Condor will face  a serious problem if the Navitus wind farm gets the go-ahead off the Dorset coast since Condor’s Channel Islands route goes right through it which could force very reluctant – and expensive — diversions.

But Poole isn’t stupid and recognises an opportunity when it sees one.

The authority has applied for £11 million worth of harbour works and that project includes new deep water quays which will obviously interest Condor.

So their Poole threat is not as empty as it was, but surely Weymouth has a few shots in its locker as well.

There are more than 70 European ferry companies operating more than 1,000 routes, so it cannot be beyond the wit of man to see if one or more of them might be interested in running a service from Weymouth to the Channel Islands from Berth 3 without the crippling cost of converting Berth 1.

And as if all that is not enough to think about there is the question of just how long – if at all – Condor might commit to Weymouth if it does get Berth 1. It certainly isn’t committing to anything at the moment.

For once Weymouth does not seem to be seeing life through rose tinted Condor spectacles and it has gone on record that the ferry company seems to be trying to hold Weymouth to ransom and that the council will cave in to their demands.

The council has warned that they are wrong, that Condor is “not indispensable” and that there has to be a limit beyond which the council will not go to keep them.

We must be pretty close to that limit now.


Sexy on the Beach?

MOST people have been on holiday to a beach, but are you sexy on the sands, fat on the foreshore or just cuddly by the kiosk?

All too soon people will be bringing out the bikinis and mankinis and checking them for winter moth holes ready for summer showing off.

But this isn’t an option for everyone, some of whom will require a tent rather than a T-shirt to cover their torsos.

Those caught betwixt and between – myself included – face an even worse dilemma since it’s nice to relax on a beach and enjoy the sun but not if you are uncertain whether or not your six-pack relates to your stomach muscles or what you drank last night.

So I’m providing a brief guide here to let all you beach bashers know where you stand and what category you should lie down in.

First come the belles of the bikini. These women can strip off with confidence, knowing that they aren’t going to wonder if last year’s outfit the size of a couple of postage stamps will still fit them.

As long as breasts and groin are adequately covered then they can strut their stuff with confidence on any beach, knowing that men’s heads will be turned. They don’t even have to look and see if they have been noticed. All they have to do is listen for the clattering sound of slaps being delivered by other women who feel their worse half has wandering eyes.

The other side of the coin in this category is the mankini, not as rare as it was, but still fringe fun for the man who wants to make a statement, even if it probably is: “Don’t touch this one with a barge pole!”

For the more mainstream male confident of his physical appearance then he will no doubt appear in some form of shorts, allowing his muscular upper body to make its own waves. Sadly such shows often reveal the need for an optician because choice of shorts can often look like an explosion in a paint factory…and a particularly bad ass paint factory at that.

At the other end of the scale are those men and women who know they have toes but haven’t seen them for some years due to the large overhang between their eyes and their feet.

Such people know they have beach problems when entire families use them as a windbreak.

So how can the “larger sizes” among us have the confidence to enjoy some beach time?

The answer is simple. Just brazen it out. If you are too big to fit in a deckchair then pat sand into the shape of a deckchair and sit in that. If you are worried about exposing rolls of flesh then don’t. Simply cover them up with beach towels or get friends and family to sit in front of you. There is no reason why obese people shouldn’t enjoy a beach with the rest of us. Just make sure someone doesn’t try and moor a boat up to you when the tide comes in.

Finally there are, if you’ll forgive the pun, the bulk of us mere mortals, those who aren’t model material but also don’t cause an eclipse as we move about.

What can the ordinary person do to make sure that beach visit is as enjoyable as possible?

One answer may lie in shifting focus. If you have a particularly luscious ice-cream, aromatic bag of chips or swirling display of candyfloss then the fat third of the beach will only have eyes for the food while the fit third of the beach won’t deign to even look at you.

Sounds like a result to me and it does allow us middle rankers to get on with the serious business of relaxing. You just can’t put too much effort in to that!