Councillors Welcome Report But Uncertain Over Next Steps

The Scillonian III

Councillors have welcomed a report comparing travel and freight costs in the Isles of Scilly with those in the Scottish islands but there was confusion about how this information would be used.

Council Chief Executive, Philip Hygate, gave a glowing recommendation to Councillors, calling the report, produced by the Council’s Economic Development Department, a ‘’tour de force’, which will have “a life for the rest of this decade.”

He said there were very few reports that come before Council that are as important as this one, adding “in the wake of difficulties that islanders are facing with transport, we need to approach it with as much information as possible.”

However, Philip cautioned that the “consequences of this report will take years to come to fruition.”

Diana Mompoloki said the information would provide a “base case” for investment in the new quay, including information that was missing from the failed Route Partnership scheme.

She said it shows that “we’re not playing on any kind of level playing field,” but added, “it’s not a silver bullet that fires off and suddenly Government says we’re sorry we’ve forgotten about you.”

Diana said Vice Chair of Council, Marian Bennett, was keen for a big launch of the report in the near future.

Councillor Chris Savill said the facts were “stark if not stunning,” and it was important that the report was used appropriately.

She said it “isn’t going to solve all our problems” and Councillors needed to “be mindful not to raise the expectations of our community especially if we go for a public launch.”

She was undecided whether this was a good idea and felt the most appropriate use was in presenting a case to the Department for Transport and the Cabinet Office.

However, Marian said she “never used the words public launch” and she agreed with Chris. She didn’t want it launched with “a public razzmatazz.”

Marian said in the earlier Transport Strategy meeting that, “her main objective in life now is to get a subsidised sea link service.”

Councillor Dudley Mumford said they needed convince the population in the west of England that we’re “not sufficiently wealthy that we don’t need help. “

He said there is a perception that if we get a few pennies we should be lucky.

He cautioned that the Government would use every excuse to say the laws don’t apply to the Scillies and they would need to lobby the European Commission.

Dudley said that was an “immense task” that could take some time.

Amanda Martin wanted more emphasis on the cost of routine and emergency health transport. She said her committee was happy to provide that information for an update of the report.

Councillor Richard McCarthy was keen that the report wasn’t just posted to Whitehall departments.

He said it would be useful if they could get Norman Baker, the Minister for Transport who refused to fund the Route Partnership Scheme, to visit the islands.

Philip Hygate agreed, saying simply posting the report to London would result in it being “pulped along with the rest of the documents that arrive that day.”

He said any further steps would require meetings with the officials involved and said the Chairman of the Council, Mike Hicks, who was not at the meeting due to illness, was keen to lead the delegations.

Philip said they would need a budget to do this properly and an “educated guess” would be around £6,000 for this year. Even this, he felt, would be tight.

Director of Finance, Peter Lawrence, agreed with Philip, adding, “it’s amazing how quickly these costs can rack up” and he would “do some work to establish the budget.”

Councillors voted in favour of carrying the report forward with the allocated budget.


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