Thursday, 3 September 2009

Community Ownership


The Isle of Skye ferry is owned by the people who use and run the ferry, through a 'community interest company'. Could this be a model for the Teignmouth and Shaldon Ferry? Neither public ownership by Teignbridge District Council or private ownership offer the guarantee, that the community and Teignmouth Town and Shaldon Parish Councils want to ensure that England's oldest ferry carries on.
Community interest companies (CIC) are a new type of limited company designed specifically for those wishing to operate for the benefit of the community rather than for the benefit of the owners of the company. This means that a CIC cannot be formed or used solely for the personal gain of a particular person, or group of people.

CICs can be limited by shares, or by guarantee, and will have a statutory “Asset Lock” to prevent the assets and profits being distributed, except as permitted by legislation. This ensures the assets and profits are retained within the CIC for community purposes, or transferred to another asset-locked organisation, such as another CIC or charity.

The recent history of the ferry shows how close it has come to being closed down in the past. When ferry operator Teignmouth & Shaldon Bridge Company was wound up in 1949, it looked like the end of the ferry, luckily a buyer was found. The ferry service was sold to a private individual - Mr W. Powell. Teignmouth Urban District Council (TUDC) had been approached to buy the ferry, but had flatly refused, not wishing to have a 'drain on the rates'. In 1952 TUDC did purchased the ferry service from the late Mr Powell’s estate, for £3,500, in order to keep the ferry service going. There was very strong opposition to buying the ferry, notably a petition by Teignmouth and Shaldon Ratepayers Association . In February 1968 TUDC discussed selling the ferry to (sic) 'private enterprise', but decided against an immediate sale.

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