GOVERNMENT transport officials have been told they have 48 hours to work with Gosport Ferry owners and local councils to pull together a package of support.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has set the urgent timescale following a meeting on Monday in which the financial plight of the service was discussed.

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage joined leaders from Hampshire County Council, Gosport Borough Council and Portsmouth City Council in a video-conference call with Mr Shapps to discuss the situation.

This was the most recent in a series of meetings in an attempt to find a solution for well over month.

Ms Dinenage used yesterday's the call to once again stress the urgency of this situation and to underline that for many local people the ferry is a lifeline.

Council leaders reportedly agreed that a joint response on funding was necessary in order to support the Ferry and keep the service running.

Mr Shapps ended the meeting by requesting his officials to pull together a proposal for council leaders in the next 48 hours.

Ms Dinenage said: "Gosport Ferry is a lifeline to people in our area, that’s why I have been working with Ferry bosses, Government colleagues and Local Authorities for many weeks now to find an urgent package of support during the current challenges.

"I welcome the fast time-frame set out by the Secretary of State and his determination to work towards a coordinated response to help this vital and much-loved service."