Your Responses: Is Mundesley House Good Value?
The Council Chairman says that the costs of running the Mundesley boarding house need checking to see whether the service provides the best value for ratepayers.
Currently the authority accesses special funding to provide term-time accommodation and food for off-island secondary age pupils on St Mary’s four nights a week.
There have been calls to close the boarding house and bring the children over each day.
Mike Hicks accepts that jet boats are a ‘new breed’ of boat which could allow daily transfer of pupils to St Mary’s.
Scilly Today commentator ‘Stuart’ feels savings of around £1m per annum could be made by closing Mundesley and the three remaining off-island school bases and moving younger pupils to St Mary’s each day.
He says, “I was on the quay this morning and two teachers and lots of little people arrived on a jet boat from Tresco/Bryher, so it would appear that shipping children over from off islands to attend the main school can be done.”
Not everyone agrees. Fiona Robson says she would not be happy with sending 5-year-olds on a jet boat every day to and from the off-islands. Fiona says, “it’s bad enough that they have to do it between Bryher and Tresco.”
Councillor Hicks says his family’s boating firm used to carry pupils between St Martin’s and St Mary’s and he warns that winter weather conditions were not always favourable. Although the youngsters were usually able to cope, their parents were often anxious, he says
‘Pepper’ believes that there are additional benefits to allowing the off-island youngsters to stay over on St Mary’s as they are, “able to stay and develop relationships with St Mary’s pupils, making friends and doing after-school activities.”
Mike accepts that the economics of staffing and maintaining the boarding house needs comparing with the cost of boat operations. A boat service would have to be put out to tender and could prove quite expensive, he warns.
Mike believes that there would have to be a widespread consultation before any change and he would expect a ‘backlash’ from some off-island parents if he were to back the idea at this stage.
He says it’s one for the ‘back burner’ for now as there are many pressing issues for him to attend to before the elections next May, not least the transport issues surrounding the quay redevelopment and the airport.