The Hythe to Southampton ferry has received a grant to help it through the pandemic.

The ferry that has run since 1887, transporting commuters and tourists, has been awarded the grant, worth £15,000 after it was adversely affected by reduced passenger numbers due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ferry company says it has lost £49,000 due to the pandemic and their annual passenger numbers have dropped to just below 200,000.

Hampshire County Councillor for Dibden and Hythe, Malcolm Wade, has campaigned for this vital transport link to be supported during difficult times.

He said: “The Hythe Ferry is a vital transport link, not just for people in Hythe going to Southampton for work and shops, but also for people in Southampton coming over to the New Forest.

“Hampshire County Council supports transport and I am very pleased that it has decided to support the ferry.

“I thank the council for backing the ferry because it was needed as it is an important transport link.”

Ferry officials say it provides a valuable service to residents of the District, particularly those who work in Southampton as it provides a quick service whilst also reducing the number of vehicle movements on the A326 and A35.

The number of passengers dropped significantly when lockdown started, and in an attempt to protect the business it decided to deactivate the service until things got back to normality.

The money was awarded after Hampshire County Council was approached by the Hythe Ferry owner regarding the Covid-19 situation and the impact on its business to seek financial support.

The council no longer pays a revenue subsidy to Hythe Ferry as the annual support was withdrawn in 2018/19.

The only payment it now makes is to cover the pontoon landing charges at Town Quay which is in the single figures and is the result of a historical legal agreement.

The county council then approached New Forest District Council and Southampton City Council to ask whether there would be support for a contribution of £15,000 each.

The county council is administering the funding and ensure that there was mechanism in place to guarantee the contribution would be spent on delivering a ferry service.

The funds will give the ferry cash to ensure the service remains viable whilst passenger numbers are lower than normal.