Minister Confirms No Subsidy For Scilly Route

The Scillonian III

The Transport Minister has written to the Council and the Friends of Isles of Scilly Transport  (FRIST) to confirm that the government won’t be subsidising a year-round sealink.

Norman Baker has backed the Steamship Company’s current approach.

In a letter to FRIST lead, Marian Bennett, the Minister says he understands that the company will invest in the Scillonian III to keep it in service until 2018, and will explore a second hand replacement.

It’ll be done without support from the public purse and Mr Baker says he encourages that approach.

Council Chairman Mike Hicks says it’s clear that the Minister believes it’s a matter for the commercial operator, the Steamship Company. Mike added that the Council is doing everything it can to keep dialogue open with the Minister but believes the Council should focus on discussions with the Steamship Company over their future plans rather than more lobbying of the Minister.

Mike says the Steamship Company have told the Council they’re ‘very open’ to hearing their suggestions about the service and haven’t ruled anything in or out.

Marian Bennett has written to councillors saying that the Minister’s letter doesn’t faze FRIST and their campaign will go on. FRIST’s goal is to gain parity in pricing and service frequency with the Scottish Islands’ travel services.

During the Route Partnership process, the Council claimed that a second hand vessel would not be appropriate. Marian claims the Council is now changing its view. She wants locals to tell the Town Hall what they want so the Authority can reflect this.

Marian says the company hasn’t answered FRIST’s questions about their replacement vessel plans and their current refurbishments.

FRIST will also be working with LINk4Scilly to collect evidence on patient transport problems, which they will use to further argue the case for subsidy from the Minister.

FRIST’s view is that the timing of flights is not ideal for patient travel but the Steamship Company has said it aims to keep aircraft on St Mary’s to allow earlier departures.

A FRIST leaflet campaign is underway, to solicit local opinion and support. The mailshot has been organised and paid for by the Rotary Club. Rotarian Richard Larn is a FRIST advisory group member.

Marian feels that transport affects the wider economy. As sole service provider, she says the Steamship Company should operate its services more like a public transport system and locals should have a say.

Cllr Hicks has offered FRIST representation at any meeting with the Steamship Company and Marian says they will take this up. She also hopes the company will attend their FRIST meeting on the 23rd November.

You can read a copy of the letter from Norman Baker here.


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