Monday, October 31, 2011

The Lynn Ferry

click photo to enlarge
In the UK there has been, for many years, a discernible drift away from the principle of narrowing the gulf in weath between the poorest, least advantaged in society and the well-off by taxing the latter and redistributing the money to the former. This approach was universally supported by all the major political parties for a long period after the Second World War. However, for the past thirty or so years the Conservatives have sought, through their policies, quite the opposite; to transfer resources from the poor and the middle classes to the richer sections of society, business, commerce and the City. The recent financial crisis has allowed them to accelerate what they are doctrinally disposed to favour under the guise of "necessity." The Labour party during its time in government, though making some efforts at redistribution, were so half-hearted that the effect was nowhere near what was possible given their duration in office and the resources that they commanded. Today's Liberal Democrats will have to speak for themselves on this matter because I find it very difficult to discern what, if any, principles they now espouse.

Part of the problem is that politics and politicians have eschewed principles and philosophy in favour of managerialism. Dealing with immediate issues has become an end in itself rather than a means of achieving a vision. The problem with most managers, of course, is that they know the price of everything but the value of nothing. So, instead of universal provision and the equalising across the country of the prices of essential items such as utilities, healthcare and transport in the interests of affordability for all, but especially the less well off in society, we are seeing the growth of regional pricing structures, the decline of cross-subsidisation and unitary pricing.

One consequence of all this is that enterprises such as the Lynn Ferry (see photograph) that regularly crosses the River Great Ouse to link the small, relatively deprived community of West Lynn with the large market town of King's Lynn face the possibility of a loss of subsidy at a time when its users face declining incomes. The ferry subsidy is £25,000 per year which allows the operators to charge fares of 80p single and £1.40 return (reduced to 60p and £1.00 for children). There is a need for fares to remain competitive with the cost of either driving round by the nearest bridge and paying for a parking space or using an infrequent bus service. More than that, there is every reason to ensure that the residents of West Lynn remain in regular contact with the major part of their community, one that they can almost reach out and touch. And, there is a need to recognise that West Lynn grew, in part because of the existence of the river ferry and to cause its closure would be iniquitous.

I photographed the ferry landing on the King's Lynn side of the river at low tide. Unfortunately the number of passengers doesn't make my case very well - two young girls heading for town and a woman crossing to West Lynn. I've tried for this silhouette shot before (when passenger numbers have been higher), but this is my best attempt so far.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 300mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/800
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On