Council Says It’s Doing All It Can Over Transport Issues

The Scillonian III

The Scillonian III

The chair of the Transport Committee, Cllr Dudley Mumford, has said the Council is doing everything it is legally empowered to do to secure transport links to the Isles of Scilly.

In a three-page statement, the Council has highlighted it’s involvement in recent activities including the £8m improvement project on St Mary’s quay, the £4.4m project to develop St Mary’s airport and the support being offered to the Steamship Company in the design of hardened runways at Land’s End.

But they admit the Council has limited powers as it’s not a Transport Authority.

The Council says the Government has made it clear that there will be no fare subsidies unless the Steamship Company ceased operations, and that’s something they would never wish to happen, as it would devastate our Islands economy.

The statement is a clear side-swipe at campaign group FRIST, who have been campaigning for subsidies on the routes to Scilly, similar to those enjoyed by the Scottish islands.

FRIST recently criticised the Council for what they say is their failure to see that the current status quo during the winter months is unacceptable.

They’ve also expressed frustration at being unable to meet with councillors, saying the first meeting, planned for mid January, has been deferred until February at the request of the Council

But the Council says it is having fortnightly meetings with transport operators and health bodies to address all issues as they arise.

And it is concerned that the expectations of the community and visitors have been raised over the likelihood of cheap, subsidised fares to the islands. They express unease that some of the publicity around the transport issues are having a negative effect on potential visitors.

Councillor Mumford said: “We are continuing to work in partnership to deliver new Quays and refurbished terminal and resurfaced runways at St Mary’s.

“The Council has already sourced central Government funding to develop plans for a hard runway at Land’s End and is helping the Steamship Company access grants to help pay for the runway. This is in line with the amount of support we would give any operator who wished to meet our islands’ transport needs.

“At the same time the Council and the Steamship Company are working together with the CAA on improved navigational aids which should allow flying in reduced visibility conditions”.

A spokesperson for FRIST said they would be issuing a response ‘in due course.’

However, Penzance Chamber of Commerce chairman, Dick Cliffe, who is also a member of FRIST’s advisory group, said the Chamber’s view is that the infrastructure improvements are necessary but not enough to sustain the community and its tourism based economy.

The chamber believes it’s impossible for the Steamship Company to replace the Scillonian without public help and the profit made by the company would not support the required level of commercial borrowing.

They say the Council’s press statement suggests complete acquiescence to the Government’s initial rebuff over subsidies. And they believe the Council is showing blind faith in modest infrastructure improvements and the Steamship Company’s ability to pull ‘a large rabbit out of its small hat’ when the Scillonian finally expires.

 



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