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.


8 Responses to Minister Confirms No Subsidy For Scilly Route

  1. Sue November 18, 2012 at 10:35 am

    I would have thought that going into the media, entering a fray where you leave yourself open to further attacks on your character with little regulation, simply to correct an inaccuracy that has been raised in that very place, in a time when misinformation and speculation seems to rule is equally admirable. I am no supporter of Marion, I don’t like some of the stances she has made with regard to chief officers and other decisions, but expenses or not, the amount of effort she and others are putting in to protect this island community in a time of great uncertainty should has my and many others deep gratefulness. She hasn’t ‘sought’ recognition for the work she has done, simply corrected an inaccuracie, but ultimately I think the point is, she is ‘Doing’ something unlike most apathetic, complacent others, satisfied to sit back and enjoy the protection of there interests and reap the rewards.

  2. Tim November 17, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    For anyone to do something for nothing, to pay for something that benefits the community out of their own pocket is admirable, its very “good” full of wonderfulness. BUT to go onto the media and tell the world from the top of the tallest building that that’s what you’ve done is a bit up your yourself.

  3. Marian Bennett November 16, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    For the record, I paid all costs of my visit to the Scottish Isles and the conference of Small Islands. FRIST members have paid all their own expenses to date, including the costs of attending the meeting with the Transport Minister.

  4. Fran Grottick November 16, 2012 at 9:53 am

    There may well be a lot of information online. However, it still takes time and effort to collate and present it.
    If Councillors know how to get our problems noted in high places, I’d say good for them and thank you. I think that Marian paid her own expenses-I haven’t asked her yet, but hope “jolly” doesn’t suggest she didn’t.
    I’m not suggesting you are party to it , Reg, but in the present difficult political situation information must be carefully checked or things will get even more problemmatic.
    Fran Grottick

  5. Adam Morton,St.Martins November 16, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Obveously the government will prefere the rout to be self supporting,thers plenty after a share of the budget before us.I agree it probably needs to be a public service but: A as yet the public havn’t put any money in to have their say,& B committee run ventures are famouse for their inefficiency(take the airport finance for example).Very nice to see the letter published for all to see (shame council doesent do the same) I am quite sure that if we can agree on somthing that will suit the majority of scilly ,it will be possible to procure it.With the levle of public expenditure on all the islands on variouse developments we evidently have some very able people so to set them a new challenge shouldnt be too difficult.With all this public expenditure on sports halls, librarys, community halls ,pools, etc etc and with our levle of media exposure and our natural recources of potenial renewable energy ,our agricultural iniatives & fishing industries we should be world leaders, should be! not begging the government to prop us up.

  6. Reg November 15, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    She is a great politician! know’s how to work the people and gets a nice jolly to bonny Scotland at the same time, but as someone has already mentioned, its all information available on-line.

  7. Sara Corbett November 15, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Marian is working tirelessly and at her own expense to try to sort out the transport problems of the islands and I congratulate her on this. Would anyone else have put so much time and effort into this. FRIST won’t stop trying to get solutions and parity with the scottish islands.
    We all need cheap and reliable transport links with the mainland whether we are islanders or holiday makers or holiday let and hotel owners. Well done for what is being done

  8. Kev Wright November 15, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Marian has come in for some criticism on this forum recently, and I think some of that is justified. But I’d like to take this opportunity to thank her for putting so much time and effort into FRIST. Thank you Marian, it’s appreciated.