Council Chairman Urges Trust In Councillors

Mike Hicks, Chairman of the Council of the Isles of Scilly

The Chairman of the Council of the Isles of Scilly says the public need to trust their elected members to what’s right.

In a special interview on Radio Scilly yesterday, Mike said people who have concerns about current problems, such as the issues surrounding the school, need to talk to the Councillors.

He said he feels Councillors are being vilified unnecessarily and people should rely on their elected members, “to do what they were elected to do,” says Mike.

Mike says members work hard for the community and he believes they should be, “cut a little slack” by the public and given more courtesy.

From Radio Scilly

Hear the full interview with Mike Hicks

But he admitted that there’s so much going on at the moment that members have taken their eye off the ball in actually running the Council.

When asked whether he felt that members were being adequately informed about Council matters by the officers, Mike said he’s aware there are issues and he’s working hard to resolve them.

Councillors have raised eyebrows over a recent visit by Lord Taylor of Holbeach, where waste consultants SLR gave an overview of their strategy before it had come before the Council. It was also claimed that problems with the airport runway had not been reported to the correct committee in a timely fashion.

Mike said as Chairman, he should be informed about everything that’s happening, and by-and-large that’s taking place, although he said he’s heard things on the radio that he “didn’t have a clue about.”

But he added he now wants to “gain control” and make sure other Members feel the same.

Mike also defended the Council Officers, who he said are, “ordinary people who can be bruised by some of the accusations levelled at them, whether they’re guilty or innocent.”

He applauded Councillors Amanda Martin and Gordon Bilsborough for attending the first HEART meeting, adding he had been opposed to this at first but admitted it had turned out completely different to what he imagined. He thought it was simply going to be a protest over the suspension of the head teacher.

Mike says he’ll also take on board the contents of a petition that was been placed in Sports Mode on Wednesday and already has dozens of names.

Councillors are having an informal meeting on Monday to discuss it, although it will be behind closed doors. He says they’ll go through the issues “with a fine toothed comb” and he knows there will be some searching questions asked.

But he says it has to be held in private as they, “can’t air their dirty linen in public.”


11 Responses to Council Chairman Urges Trust In Councillors

  1. Katie F July 8, 2012 at 10:23 am

    No, but certainly with some self-catering owners on St Mary’s (to be fair, from what I can work out, the worst offenders are those who have invested in property over here but don’t live here or manage it themselves) who charge an extortionate amount for substandard accommodation. As for getting shopping across, why not be proactive? Form a small businesses/ B and Bs’ cooperative and club together to buy certain things in bulk. It has been done successfully elsewhere. Finally, yes it IS expensive to live on Scilly… at the moment it’s expensive to live anywhere but I appreciate that on Scilly employment opportunities are limited as is the number of things that you can do with your money. HOWEVER, it’s worth remembering that the main reason that people visit the islands is the same reason that keeps you and me living there; there’s a community and the quality of life IS high. In my opinion, the main thing that will help is for everyone to be as welcoming as possible and for certain businesses to keep their costs down (greed will not help here, nor will a dismissive or arrogant attitude – so far this summer I have witnessed staff in at least three establishments treat visitors like muck and that’s not going to get bums on the seats of next year’s ridiculously expensive Scillonian crossings).

  2. Adam Morton,St.Martins July 7, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    I agree respect has to be earned.Ultimatly however in these difficult times people will look arround for somone to blame.When times were better we could afford to ignore ineficiency&indecent pay rises because it didnt affect us much and we could all survive.The fact is at the end of the chain of command are the councillors and to many of us( who rely on visitor trade for our livelihoods) they appear to be indifferent to the gravity of the economic situation and only look at it from the authorities angle,as long as they can pay all their staff,their books balance,their chiefs get a bonus/increase and they can put a bit in their savings pot they are all happy ,sadly we dont all have that luxury.I dont expect the the goverment local or national to sort out my problems.However I find it annoying that my taxes are squanderd on consultants ,surveys,and pointless oficial positions that are all ignored anyway and that make no measurable difference to our quality of life and in fact just make us work harder just to stay where we were while officers get a pay rise thats more than some of us have to live on.If we saw any actual action and results for our islands benifit many of us would be less resentfull of the authority having by comparison an easy time of it whilst burdening us with ever increasing expences and paperwork.The crux of the matter is I supose that the councillor is supposed to be our representative and by the the very nature of our islands society have to be of a secure financial position eg retired to afford the time to do the job properly which immediatly puts them out of touch with the challenges facing many of us.To most of us there would appear to an element of institutionalisation among some(not all)councillors and staff who will defend the authority to the end wether right or wrong without ever realy knowing why.That is the trouble with having an authority that is by far the largest employer in the islands ,it becomes an entity in its own right rather than to its original pupose ie baisicly to provide and maintain local ameanities and infrastructure in the way most benificial to its inhabitants.The hard fact is that its up to councillors to designate what its officers do and are paid and to keep things in context eaqualy every well handled matter will never be noticed whilst every balls up will be held up for public examination.Part of the problem is that there is no need for members to care what their electorate think as thers been no contested elections on most off islands for years now though as the positions not paid thers little incentive to go out and actually gauge public opinion or update them with whats happening,perhaps that should be addressed?

    • Todd Stevens July 7, 2012 at 7:50 pm

      Spot on Adam. and also the comment made by Stuart above.

      Our Councillors are good people on the whole. They just need to know when they are being led by the nose or scare mongered into making rash decisions…and ask more questions of the officers at meetings when they feel that this might be the case.

      As for tourism- It is expensive to live on Scilly full stop. This is passed on to the customer-otherwise we go bust. We B&B owners can only keep our prices similar to those at popular locations on the mainland and from what I see we are doing exactly that -even though much more of our profits go on getting our shopping over. £5 per little green basket of shopping from Tesco up to our house is horrendous- and the co-op an unreliable supplier we are stuck with it. So where does the problem of pricing to come to scilly lay? Certainly not with the B&B owners on St Marys.

  3. Stuart July 7, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Another thought.
    Why don’t the council place a suggestion box somewhere neutral like the post office where anyone can post a suggestion or a rant on how they feel about a particular subject and then once a week a nominated Councillor comes along and takes all the suggestions away and these are then read out at a weekly council meeting.

    You know what its like living here, people don’t always feel that they can say what they wish to say because Scilly can be a rather closed, insular and clicky community at times. especially where the council is concerned, this way people could have their say and the Councillors would be better placed to make decisions upon the wishes of the people they are supposed to represent.

  4. John July 7, 2012 at 7:25 am

    Trust like respect has to be earned, Mike has earnt that trust unlike his predecessor. The people, through this media, have a voice that they never had before and more importantly they have the information and can see just what our elected councillors are up to on our behalf, now the councillors have to adjust to this new transparency, time to get real.

    • John July 7, 2012 at 5:45 pm

      Forgive me! I don’t mean Mikes predecessor but Amanda’s predecessor.

  5. Stuart July 6, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    I’d like to be able to trust the Councillors to make decisions but how can you trust anyone who votes through extravagant pay rises for the senior officers against the wishes of the electorate.
    There are some good Councillors but for the most part the council is a perfect example of the dog being wagged by the tail

  6. Frank July 6, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    I like many of the Councillors, but I do have problems with regard the future of Scilly and where we are going in terms of tourism, in terms of agriculture, in terms of housing, in terms of travel, in terms of people being able to live here with a job that pays enough to pay the bills, and maybe one day own a home of their own. That’s a lot for a Council to sort out, but it doesn’t mean they should ignore it. At least acknowledge there are big problems and perhaps people WILL cut you some slack. But if you ignore it, or play it down, then people will rightly jump on you because they are scared, and I mean that, they are ‘scared’ of what’s going to happen on Scilly in the next 5-10 years.

    We’ve just seen another business go under today, times are tough when a pub goes under on Scilly. It’s time to really get to grips with the tourism side of things, and that also means the travel side of things, and also means the management of waste side of things. Are tourists being fleeced on Scilly? It would seem so, a lady on this site complained that she had to pay £2,000 for a family holiday on the islands for 3 of them over two weeks. That’s just ludicrous. What sort of mark-up are these people getting? ARE they even getting a mark-up? Or does the price of living here and getting goods here etc necessitate the high prices? I dont know, but there needs to be some culpability, otherwise the tourism picture, and the future of the islands is going to look decidedly precarious in the coming years.

    Get the boat sorted, get the runway sorted, get the quays sorted, and then get the local facilities sorted, and get tourism all pulling in the same direction and not this selfish nonsense that we currently all endure. You don’t get Sundays off in the Summer, not when you’re in the tourist trade, it’s insanity.

    Every little bit needs to be looked at, from the time of day that the Co-Op staff stack their shelves (NOT in the middle of the day, for pete’s sake, its already jammed in the aisles without you lot stood around with boxes on the floor!), to the lack of quality street furniture, to the state of the footpaths, to the quality of restaurants, to the amount of traffic, to the lack of wet weather provision, it’s all making an impact in one way or another.

    We need only look across the water at Tresco to see what vision and control can do for an island. Robert Dorrien Smith runs an excellent tourist destination, we could all learn some lessons from his island. Unfortunately tourism is an area of work we’ve never really taken seriously. We’ve taken it for granted and we’ve poked at it with a little bit of money, but it needs serious investment from the Local Authority. There’s £2m in the pot for ’emergencies’, well I think £1m of that could be used as a pot for the Tourism committee next year. We’re going to have to speculate to accumulate.

    • Todd Stevens July 8, 2012 at 12:43 am

      I love Tresco, it is indeed a very beautiful Island -twee in places- but beautiful. A holiday destination in the real sense. A rich mans Butlins. A time share paradise run by a man with ‘vision and control’ The rest of Scilly is different. The other islands are run by hard working local families who prefer to keep Scilly as it was. Rugged and natural. A place of real community. Local families working hard under difficult, if expensive to live, circumstances whilst trying to keep prices down so that the ordinary person can still enjoy these undeveloped islands and get to know real Scillonian people if they so wish.

  7. Louise Graham July 6, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
    Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.
    Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
    Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
    Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
    But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.
    – Buddha

  8. Kev Wright July 6, 2012 at 10:57 am

    These words are good to hear from Mike. Personally I think the councillors themselves do a good job, but I do believe they’re kept in the dark and do not have as much power as the public would like them to have, or as they should have. I sincerely hope this will now be addressed and that our elected members have the authority and access to information they deserve. It’s very worrying that our council chairman has to hear things via the radio rather than the senior officers.