The Flatholm ferry  Lewis Alexander – owned by the Vale of Glamorgan Council-  is to be sold for just £17,000 to Cardiff Council

Few people may have realised it – but allegedly cash-strapped Vale of Glamorgan Council owns a passenger ship – a ship which is never used and lies rusting and neglected in Cardiff Bay.

The vessel is the MV “Lewis Alexander” which used to take passengers to the island of Flatholm from Barry Docks  – but which has lain rotting and unmaintained in Cardiff Bay for almost all the time that  Labour administration has been in power in the Vale of Glamorgan .

Now Cardiff Council has made a “bottom book” offer to the Vale Council to snap-up  the Lewis Alexander for a bargain price of just £17,000 and sell it on for “salvage”.

Happier days: Lewis Alexander embarking a fuil load of passengers at Flatholm five years ago

The Vale Council’s ruling ‘cabinet’  –  which has limited expertise in matters nautical – has agreed to sell because it now admits the little ship is of “no practical use or benefit to the Council”.

The Vale Council’s ownership of Lewis Alexander stems from the Labour Party’s disastrous re-organisation of local government in 1996 when South Glamorgan County Council – which owned Flatholm – was dissolved.  Flatholm Island itself was handed over to  Cardiff City Council – but the 45-passenger  Lewis Alexander, the ship that the island depended upon for communication with the mainland, was given to the  Vale of Glamorgan Council.

In 2013 however Cardiff City Council stopped operating the Lewis Alexander’s  regular passenger sailings to Flatholm and ever since she has  just been languishing at its Cardiff Bay berth    with the Vale Council picking up the tab for berthing costs of £2,000 a year.

Every so often, at “irregular intervals”, someone would go aboard and start up the engines but that’s about the extent of the attention the ship – potentially a useful and marketable asset, owned by the council-tax payers of the Vale  – has received.

In 2015 Cardiff City Council undertook an “independent valuation” of Lewis Alexander which reported that the ship was worth between £15,000 and £17,000.

Cardiff Council then put the squeeze on  by asking the Vale to  remove the vessel from its berth in  Cardiff Bay “at the earliest opportunity as the vessel is taking up valuable space” Now  the Vale of Glamorgan Council appears to have accepted Cardiff’s £17,000 offer without quibbling saying “it would be prudent for this Council to proceed with the sale of the vessel directly to Cardiff City Council at the earliest opportunity.”

The Vale Council however won’t get the full £17,000 for Lewis Alexander  because it will have to pay £3,000 for a valuation and condition report, transport costs, “officer costs”, and “advertisement costs relating to the sale of the vessel” – so at the end of the day the Vale will be lucky to recoup £10,000 on the deal .


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  1. andrewsketty says:

    are there any regular passenger sailings now to Flat Holm?

    • whatsoccurin says:

      A Weston Super Mare firm MV Marine did regular sailings last year, sometimes stopping at the Pier-not sure about this year-will try to locate a timetable!

    • snoggerdog says:

      i noticed a boat this am leaving the barrage for flat holm with cardiff university markings on it about 10 students? on board all looking like they were off to the dentist. hang ive just had an idea where to a new——-.

  2. Frank Bird says:

    Just enough money raised for another Penarth Bench.

  3. Monty says:

    The Local Government (Wales) Act 1994, which established the “disastrous” current 22 local authorities in Wales, was formulated under the stewardship of, first, David Hunt and, subsequently, John Redwood, both Conservative Secretaries of State for Wales.

    • Freddie says:

      Note to Chris David – I know Monty is cross about being associated with Lindsey and Lindsay but I do believe the three of them would get on like a house on fire. 🙂

  4. Steve says:

    There is a service (subject to wind, tides and demand) to Flatholme operated by Cardiff Sea Safaris. Fast 12 seat yellow RiIBs.

  5. Richard says:

    If Cardiff Council is going to “sell it on for salvage” why doesn’t the Vale do that and get the full whack of money? Cardiff council has presumably made an offer of £17,000, thinking it will make a profit?
    Why is the Vale sitting on its bottom when Cardiff council has the nous to see the boat’s value and make something from it?
    Or is something as commercial as making money on a tourist boat beneath the high-brow intellectuals at the Vale, so concerned are they with the provision of social housing and imposing Eastern Bloc architecture on the town?
    Also, while we’re on the subject of wasted money and potential, does anyone know what happened about the old barracks on Flat Holm which were being turned into accommodation for visitors?
    As I understand it, significant sums and time were spent on converting old buildings into tourist stays yet nothing has come of it???
    What has happened to that idea of allowing people to stay on the island? I thought the Vale was on to this?? Or have the transformed buildings been left to rot?

    • Penileaks says:

      As i understand it, all converted and ready to go a few years ago, but left unused and empty. More social housing perhaps ?

  6. Lm says:

    Yet again the ratepayers money has been thrown away
    What is wrong with this council?

  7. Ralf says:

    Cardiff City Council are paying at the top end of the valuation (£15,000 – £17,000) and the article suggests the VOG will probably end up with £10,000 net.
    The vessel was “given” to the VOG and associated costs since 2014 amount to £2,000 per year berthing, equalling a sum of £8,000.
    Looks like a £2,000 net profit to me.

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