Sea Link Project In Jeopardy As Cornwall Council Refuse Funding

Penzance Harbour

There are concerns that St Mary’s harbour may loose out on millions of pounds of redevelopment money because of funding problems and alleged in-fighting over the Penzance side of the sea link.

Cornwall Council has confirmed that it will not provide funding to finalise the Penzance scheme, which now puts the whole project in jeopardy.

Here, The Council, Duchy and Steamship Company have been working on the outline for the scheme that would attract £4m of Department for Transport funding. And they have secured the cash to finalise the plans.

In the next month, construction companies will be asked to express interest.

Applicants will then be checked against European rules and, if planning permission is granted in the summer, the St Mary’s plans will be ready to receive UK Government and European cash.

But the Government has made it clear Scilly can’t go it alone.

Local MP, Andrew George, has confirmed that if the Penzance scheme isn’t finalized, because Cornwall Council refuses to pay for it, the Department for transport won’t pay for work here in Scilly.

The Penzance plans are six months behind ours and, unlike Scilly, they didn’t ask the Ministry to pay for the entire planning work.

They hoped that the Harbour Authority, Cornwall Council, would bankroll it.

Scilly's MP, Andrew George

But speaking to Radio Scilly last night, the Cornwall Councillor who looks after transport matters, Graeme Hicks, said they wouldn’t put another penny in after they spent £6m on the contentious failed Route Partnership Scheme, which split opinion in Penzance.

Graeme says they can’t pay for a project that’s mainly there to help another Council, Scilly, even though they want to be supportive.

Dick Cliffe, chairman of the Penzance Chamber, feels that Cornwall has lost trust in the scheme because of the bitter rows last year. He says the recently agreed proposals are the best they can do within the constraints, but with disagreements starting again, there is a further risk over funding if the plan changes again

Councillor Hicks goes further, alleging that some parties to the Penzance discussions have been “fighting like cats and dogs.”

The plans are too sketchy for Cornwall to hand over up to £1m in development funds and he says there isn’t a clear plan for what kind of second-hand boat would be bought.

Graeme says the Department for Transport, who refused to fund the original scheme, is “morally obligated” to help, as that amount is “a drop in the ocean” to them, a point Dick Cliffe agrees with.

Dick says the Government has the capacity to appoint someone to drive the scheme forward.

We asked Andrew George whether the DfT would fund the Penzance development shortfall if Cornwall continues to refuse to contribute, but he declined to answer, saying he preferred, “not to micromanage the project in the public domain.”

Andrew says Penzance has until the end of summer to get their plan sorted or both sides will loose the European cash.

But he admits he can’t guarantee the project will ever reach fruition.


5 Responses to Sea Link Project In Jeopardy As Cornwall Council Refuse Funding

  1. Edward VIII March 8, 2012 at 9:30 am

    In fact, I’d like to see Cornwall Council try to sue Penzance Town Coucil for the £6m.

    Penzance Town Council and the protest groups made their bed.
    Guess what, it’s bedtime.

  2. Edward VIII March 8, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Penzance complained bitterly that people didn’t value their opinion and were the poor cousin to Scilly in the deal. However, they singularly forget that Cornwall Council paid £6m to entertain the ideas of Penzance, so it’s hardly surprising that they are very reluctant to put any more money their way.

    Quite how Andrew George MP has gotten away with this is unclear. He failed to control a situation ostensibly between a town council and a parish council, and it has cost the taxpayer millions. All that was needed was a new set of quays and a new boat, come on Andrew, it really wasn’t advanced algebra.

    Mr Bilsborough, you have to be careful not to fall into the same trap as the protest groups in being so vociferous in opposition to the idea of a second-hand boat. It may be the only way forward, even in the medium-term, and so we should not rule out anything out-of-hand. We need to find a solution to the transport problems, bottom line, no matter how we get there.

    • Gordon Bilsborough March 8, 2012 at 6:24 pm

      Edward VIII,
      I take your point about a second-hand boat although I have been advised it could be very difficult to find a suitable shallow-draught vessel which will meet both our passenger and cargo well as being economical to operate.

      • Edward VIII March 9, 2012 at 9:11 am

        Difficult, but not impossible Mr Bilsborough, and if there is a glimmer of hope that could save us millions then let’s keep looking.

  3. Gordon Bilsborough March 7, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    I hope the protest groups in Penzance (aided and abetted by our MP, Andrew George) are proud of the outcome of their endless delaying tactics which has resulted in the loss of funding for our mainland sea link project. They were warned about this possibility two years ago but chose to ignore it. However, we must still explore every avenue to secure a grant for a successor to Scillonian III. A second-hand boat is NOT the answer.