Steamship Company Now Biggest Risk Says Chairman Of Penzance Chamber

North Pier in Penzance

The biggest risk to plans for the sealink between Penzance and the Isles of Scilly could be a lack of funding for a new boat.

That’s according to Dick Cliffe, Chairman of the Penzance Chamber of Commerce, who said he’s now optimistic that plans for quay upgrades at Penzance and St Mary’s would go ahead.

He said the biggest risk now lies with the Steamship Company, and this is becoming “a bit of a void” in the overall project.

Dick said the Scillonian III needed substantial Government intervention to make it affordable and after looking at the company’s accounts, it’s likely that will be required again in order to fund the millions of pounds needed for a new vessel.

He thinks this will be a ‘big stretch’ particularly as the Government can’t just subsidise the Steamship Company.

From Radio Scilly

Dick Cliffe talks to Radio Scilly about the Penzance Harbour plans

There’s likely to be some element of competition needed and he can’t predict what the outcome of that could be.

Dick was speaking after the public exhibition in Penzance yesterday, where residents had a chance to view plans for their town’s quay development, which will become the new terminal for the ferry to the Islands.

The proposal would see all the existing buildings along the harbourside demolished with the exception of the Docker’s Rest Café.

A new passenger terminal building would be constructed near the Meadery Building.

North Pier would be substantially widened along its whole length and the Rank Building on the end of the pier would be demolished and replaced by a new freight building and marine engineering workshop.

A covered walkway will be provided along the length of South Pier, although this is seen as desirable but not essential, given the difficulty making such a structure robust enough to survive winter storms.

Every detail carefully examined


Dick told us the exhibition felt very upbeat and people visiting were supportive of the plans.

He said he didn’t hear a single negative comment in the two hours he was there and he thinks that’s down to the way the project in Penzance has been progressed this time.

Every detail has been carefully examined during earlier consultations so there were no major surprises and Dick says it was nice to see the different strands brought together with the 3D renders of the final project.

Dick admitted that Penzance does have a record of “saying no and getting it wrong” and cited the example the Marks and Spencer store, which was rejected by Penzance and is now benefiting nearby Hayle.

But he said the “middle ground here does want to see it move ahead” although Penzance Town Council is currently in discussions about how the project is taken forward.

Dick says Cornwall Council, in their Harbour Authority role, appear supportive of the plans but they are not offering to back the project financially and, because of that, there is the risk that the Minister for Transport will not fund it again.

And if they don’t get their new harbour paid for, St Mary’s quay won’t get funding either.

The next stage is to do a detailed study of North Pier to make sure the structure is suitable and ensure there are no “nasty surprises.” The £250,000 funding for that has already been identified although there is still no funding for the detailed design stage.

Dick says time is an issue as the ERDF funding is time limited and the project has to be “done and dusted” by 2015.

But he’s optimistic that there’ll be a solution, saying neither quay project is a ‘big deal’ from the DfT point of view, just as long as there is a will to do it.


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