New FRIST Group To Spotlight Islands’ Transport Problems

A St Mary’s hotelier says it’s time for islanders to decide whether to carry on ‘whining’ about the need for subsidies for our mainland travel or make the changes needed to revitalise our flagging tourist trade.

Clifford Freeman, who owns Scilly Self Catering and St Mary’s Hall Hotel, is a board member of FRIST, standing for Friends of Isles of Scilly Transport, a joint Scilly and Penzance group made up mainly of hoteliers and tourism partnership members, as well as Tresco’s Robert Dorrien-Smith and maritime expert Sam Guy.

FRIST are using the Council’s Scottish Islands transport comparison report as the basis for lobbying government and the EU for reliable, cheaper transport links to Scilly. They want a year-round passenger boat service, but Clifford doesn’t agree entirely. He feels that the all-year freight service is the most important and he’d favour the retention of separate freight and passenger boats.

From Radio Scilly

Clifford Freeman talks to Keri Jones

Penzance Chamber of Commerce member Dick Cliffe has also joined. He said the Chamber is supporting the campaign because the Isles of Scilly economy is linked closely to the economy of West Cornwall and especially Penzance.

He once lived on Unst in Shetland where he says their short ferry journeys were frequent and cheap. He believes that, “the UK government is falling down in relation to EU policies on remote communities on the periphery.”

One of FRIST’s roles will be to put Scilly’s issues in the spotlight but getting agreement on what needs to be done amongst its members may prove a challenge.

Whilst some of its group wants to lobby to keep the helicopter service going, Clifford says it’s over and the islands should move on. He says the rotary service could even be blamed for the fall in numbers and feels it may have brought about Scilly’s decline with high fares.

Clifford says the helicopters have held rates high for the past 15 years and that may have influenced Skybus in setting theirs. And now Skybus are set to have an air monopoly, he hopes the fuller flights will bring ticket price reductions although he added there’s, “more chance of hitching a ride on one of the pink elephants that are flying by.”

“The future of BIH has been at thing of much debate for several years,” says Clifford. “To me, it seems that a mixture of unreliability, unviability and inefficiency are the real reason for the demise. Any business having to sell off its asset to continue trading is only putting off the failure date.”

FRIST say one of their first jobs will be to encourage visits by opinion formers to the Isles of Scilly, to get first hand experience of the current service.


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