St Helena Grant Highlights ‘Discrepency’ In Treatment Of Scilly

The recent announcement that the British Overseas Territory of St Helena is to receive £250m for a new airport highlights the ‘vast discrepency’ in the way the Government treats the Isles of Scilly.

That’s according to Marian Bennett, who has been spearheading efforts to get Government subsidies for our Islands’ transport links.

Last week, the UK government announced that it will be spending nearly £247m to build an airport on the remote island in the South Atlantic, situated between Angola and Brazil. The government says it will save money eventually as it currently spends £25m annually to keep the island solvent and the airport will create new revenue and freight savings.

But Marian questions why the government is spending this money on an Overseas Territory with a population of 4,500, when they refused the proposed £60m funding for the Route Partnership scheme for Scilly last year.

She said she can’t understand why the Isles of Scilly are being treated so differently from other islands by the government, although she says there does seem to be a misconception that we’re a tax haven like the Channel Islands or a luxurious holiday destination.

Marian says Scilly appears to be the only small islands in the UK that are treated this way and she says they’ll include the information on St Helena, as well as the data in the so-called Scottish Report, in any future approaches to the government.

Councillors and business leaders in Scilly and Cornwall recently formed the Friends of Isles of Scilly Transport, or FRIST, action group, and Marian, who is a member of their advisory group, is encouraging people to sign up as members on their website.

She says the 2,000 residents of the islands, backed up by our neighbours in Cornwall, our visitors and friends and relatives, could present a powerful voice to the Government and she’s looking for ‘10s of thousands’ of people to join the campaign for a subsidised lifeline service to the islands.


13 Responses to St Helena Grant Highlights ‘Discrepency’ In Treatment Of Scilly

  1. Stuart August 25, 2012 at 10:00 am

    I have to Agree with Adam,
    My experience of rich people is they can be just as obnoxious (if not more so) as “certain elements” of poor people because they somehow think that having money makes them better people

  2. Adam Morton,St.Martins August 24, 2012 at 12:40 am

    DONT tell me that class has anything to do with drunken obnoxiouse behaviour.I deal with hundreds of visitors a week and I can say for certain that the ammount of money they have has nothing to do with how they behave ,this is a myth put about by snobs trying to feel superior.Its true that most visitors that come here arnt hard up but the only rowdy stag doos I’v seen here wernt either.The one underlying factor that does come up is that because it costs so much to get here and park while they are here,they dont spend so much when they arrive on dining out or boat trips etc.Just look at gig nights! fifteen years ago there were three boat fulls from St.Marys and one from each off island now thers one from St.Marys and none from St.Martins and a couple of halfs from Tresco and St.Agnes yet the islands are full.It strikes me that we are supposed to be spending millions on a beautifull quay and airport that people are merely walking through yet the boat and chopper they spend all their journey on are 40 years old at least! and it costs nearly as much for a child to fly as an adult and boating it is very messy for them too which I feel puts off young families which is a shame as I reckon scilly has to be about the safest best place there is for kids who will hopfully one day bring their own.

  3. Katie F August 23, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    There’s a halfway house though, isn’t there? Affordable for a middle class family is where things should be pitched, so that we’re attracting the calibre of visitor that we were attracting 10 years ago and beyond. At the moment those families who were once the bread and butter are frequently turning to cheaper foreign resorts that are easier to get to from most parts of the UK. There’s a difference between pricing things competitively for the middle classes and extortionately for the ‘luxury’ market which is better evidenced on Tresco…

  4. Bill Hiner August 22, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    Be careful about lowering the price of travel to the islands too much! Many vistors tell me that the cost of getting here ensures that a “certain element” don’t come, and this ensures that the islands remain “magical”. Do we want to cheapen things to such a degree that we become yet another tacky seaside resort that can be so easily found in the UK?
    Identity is everything when deciding on the future of a holiday resort (because that’s what we are), and the worst thing that can happen is that the outside world see us as a cheap-to-get-to-easy-to-trash venue.
    I remember my wife and I talking to a seasonal worker here who said that her home city of Prague being ruined by the influx of drunken stag parties from the Uk, brought about by cheap flights and booze.
    There is a delicate balance to maintain, and whilst I would like to see visitors encouraged to travel here, I don’t wish to see the quality of the stay diminshed.

    • IanT August 23, 2012 at 8:17 pm

      I don’t hear of any of the problems you mention happening on the Scottish islands. As to the cheap booze fed stag parties, alcohol will still be as expensive as on mainland Britain. There was a time whenthere would several hundred day-trippers on the boat but that’s all they were – day-trippers! Where would all the ‘certain element’ stay?

    • George August 23, 2012 at 11:03 pm

      Speaking as an individual, I find this comment pretty horrendous. This implication that we should ‘price out poor people’ because they behave worse is ignorant. The reason Scilly doesn’t have these issues, isn’t because there are only the middle classes as Katie F later describes them, but because that loutish culture just doesn’t exist here – we don’t put up with it.

      There is outrage in the community when people don’t clear up after a beach barbecue, and our police post discussions about how they intervene for people making too much noise at 1am. We don’t have twenty four hour drinking, we don’t accept and put up with excessive drink or drugs, we don’t advertise the ‘party atmosphere’. Instead we have honesty boxes and unlocked bikes. We are for the most part polite, caring, community based people looking to get along with each other, that’s what makes Scilly, not how much money we have.

      We don’t have drunken, loutish behaviour, because our culture doesn’t allow for it. It has nothing to do with price. If you hadn’t noticed you can have places where rich people go and behave like louts – if you haven’t read the news the third heir to the throne was recently caught playing strip billiards in a Las Vegas hotel, and if you need further help try googling Bullingdon Club. Wealth is not the issue, culture is the issue. Some of the best islanders, and some of the best visitors that ever come here are people who are probably part of that ‘certain element’ your so desperate to keep out. Very disappointing to see this kind of attitude.

      • IanT August 24, 2012 at 8:37 am

        My sentiments exactly, George. I was less open in my comment for fear of falling foul of the ‘ScillyToday censor’.

  5. IanT August 22, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    In response to JayPaul and Clarence, Scilly doesn’t need any big new event to attract visitors. What it does need is recognition by the Government that it is entitled to the same subsidies as other small island communities. If the cost of travel is reduced substantially, which will result in many other items coming down in price as well, then the visitors will come flocking back. So many of our friends say that they would love to go but find the cost of getting there prohibitive. By the way Gordon B, I’m sure you know who I am..? I’m not hiding – ‘IanT’ has been a bit of a nick name for me for years.

  6. Todd Stevens August 21, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    Military strategic point in the southern hemisphere and nothing more. Oil.

  7. Clarence Boddiger August 21, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    I guess more popular events aren’t such a bad thing to get us more recognition from the government. The Camel Rock festival we had could have grown and attracted more people. We could host a weekend of road racing too if the roads were closed, much like the TT but on a smaller scale. Even major water sports, other than gig racing could be held over her, such as sailing, canoeing, kite and wind surfing tournaments etc… Think national not regional.

  8. JayPaul August 21, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Perhaps apart from sovereignty , there’s another reason they rely on the islands, be it to accommodate military, a foothold or otherwise. They wouldn’t otherwise invest so much money in an overseas territory. Bit like the Falklands.

    There are people on the mainland who aren’t even aware the isles of scilly exist, and for some that includes people who have lived down this way for a while…but generally if you’re new to Cornwall…generally people aren’t aware of it as it’s tucked away. Places like the isle of man, isle of wight, even the channel islands are far more well known, host nationally recognized events or are on a well traveled route. Note only that but our other surrounding islands around the UK are reasonably cheaper to stay on, move to/from. In order to stay anywhere on the islands you need to have a great deal of money. The only recognised thing associated with the islands is gig racing, and whilst that can welcome international teams it’s greatly only recognised in the southwest and not well known nationally.

    Give the government a better reason to invest, Isle of man has the TT, Isle of Wight has festivals, others are better located. The southwest in itself is generally forgotten about by the government, Penzance is one of the main links to the island and even that isn’t attracting as much as it could. Not trying to criticise the islands…just throwing stuff out there.

  9. George Kershaw August 21, 2012 at 11:00 am

    This news is a clear sign that the Government don’t have a clue what our situation is over here.
    Someone isn’t doing their jobs properly if they can allocate that much money year on year out to an island that is nowhere near the UK but are happy to see the islands struggle with aging transport infrastructure.
    We need help with our airport and quays and a new ship would be very useful..
    Who makes these decisions in the government?
    We need to find out and get them over here.
    I’m quite disgusted to read this news to be honest,what is our government actually doing for the good of this country?

  10. IanT August 21, 2012 at 10:46 am

    As a former resident I can only ask why has it taken all this time to press for subsidies? Why have the council just accepted the ‘you are part of England, end of story’ response from central Government for all these years? I once suggested to a councillor that as Scilly was not much further away from Edinburgh than some of the northernmost Scottish Islands, why doesn’t Scilly become part of Scotland..? Silly idea maybe but… Anyway, good luck to the new FRIST group and the news about St Helena must be a real boost to their efforts.