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.


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