Four Members Of FRIST Advisory Group Resign

The Scillonian III

The Scillonian III

Four members of the Friends of Isles of Scilly Transport advisory group have quit.

The group was set up to campaign for subsidies for Scilly’s travel services, similar to those enjoyed by Scottish islanders.

The resignations of Clifford Freeman, John Peacock, Alasdair Moore and Sam Guy follow claims that FRIST is giving potential visitors the incorrect impression that Scilly is hard to travel to.

Clifford Freeman who owns St Mary’s Hall Hotel and Scilly Self Catering told Radio Scilly that there are many positive things happening now in Scilly but “FRIST is not one of them.”

FRIST’s publicity over travel issues following the end of the helicopter service has helped give the impression that the Islands are closed when Scilly is very much, “open for business”, he says.

Clifford says he has spoken to people who believe that there is now no other way to get to the islands. He says the message that there has been more investment in travel than for several decades, and that the Steamship Company has risen to the challenge, has been lost, although he accepts there have been ‘teething problems’ over winter.

Tresco marketing manager Alasdair Moore has also resigned from FRIST.

He attended the outdoor show in London and says he was shocked that 70% of the people he spoke with thought that travel to Scilly was impossible or extremely difficult. He does not blame FRIST but says he is worried that the public nature of the FRIST discussion contributes to this perception.

Alasdair also feels that Skybus has done an “outstanding” job in coping with appalling weather conditions, which have been responsible for a national transport crisis.

John Peacock says he’s resigned because FRIST was making his close working relationship with the Council and other tourism partners difficult.

In a statement issued by FRIST’s Dick Cliffe and Marian Bennett, the group claim that even though FRIST seeks to work constructively with all parties, various interests get challenged and being a member of the advisory group has not been for the faint-hearted.

FRIST says there has always been pressure not to do anything that might harm next year’s tourist bookings and to play down even this current winter’s transport difficulties.

That presents problems for a lobbying group they say, but FRIST’s main purpose has always been to ensure that the government and the EU are made aware of the truth of the situation and potential future risks for Scilly.

FRIST has been criticised for negative national press but they claim most of this occurred when the helicopter service ended in November.

Tim Guthrie and Avril Mumford have taken two of the four vacant seats on the FRIST advisory group.


21 Responses to Four Members Of FRIST Advisory Group Resign

  1. Dick Cliffe February 12, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Westminster does see island transport issues as just the concern of a small body islanders (1770 votes) which is why FRIST embraces the support of businesses on the mainland (mainly Penzance) and the 100,000+ visitors to the islands.

    The reality is that the IOS is an iconic tourist destination and tourist ‘engine’ for West Cornwall. Of the total visitor spend in Penwith + IOS in 2011 some 12% (£34.1 million) occurs on Scilly despite the islands having less than 3% of the areas population. The tourist spend in Penwith also includes spending by visitors transiting through on the way to and from Scilly plus those who add extra days in Penwith to a holiday in Scilly. It is quite possible that Scilly generates 15% of the tourist spend in the area (1/7th).

    Other contributors have noted that Scilly has compensated for reducing numbers by raising prices. This is reflected in Visit Cornwall’s “Value of Tourism” reports for 2010 and 2011. Scilly experienced a 1.3% drop in visitor nights between 2010 and 2011 compared to +1.7% growth in Penwith and 5.2% growth in Cornwall as a whole. Revenue however was substantially up.

    What I can confirm as a guesthouse owner in Penzance is that middle income tourists complain about the ever higher cost of holidaying on the islands and some say they are cutting back on the number or length of visits.

    Any significant contraction in the tourism economy of Scilly will effect Penzance. The national economy is at best flat lining. A reduction in IOS business (in its many different forms) could easily create a localized recession. It will not be anything like as significant as what happens on the islands but it is still unwanted.

    The transport issue is increasing putting the IOS at a disadvantage in the fiercely competitive tourism sector. The evidence for this was apparent before the announcement of the closure of the helicopter service. No measures currently planned are addressing this issue even if the planned measures are helping to fill the hole created by the loss of the helicopter.

    Dick Cliffe
    Penzance /FRIST Advisory Group member

  2. Pat Hicks February 11, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    Quite agree with you there Lawarence!!. dont think westminster cares a fig.. but i do think its all about politics sometimes…
    and thats where i get lost!!.

  3. Lawrence Upton February 11, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    I think what Nobby Nobbs says in his first paragraph may have something in it, perhaps a lot in it: that the company may be disinclined to seek subsidy when they might have to compete.

    Yes, they are doing a lot of what they could; but much was avoidable. And a hard runway, IF it comes this year, will still be late.

    Someone said FRIST has been political/personal. I don’t know what that means; nor do I know why someone spoke of a “so called group” — they *are a group; but the sort of thing that FRIST are pursuing is inherently political. It is not, though, party political. And political can also mean “an ideology which is not mine”. It is not political in that way.

    Political awareness is helpful though; and it seems likely to me that apart from the local MP there will be little or no interest in Scilly. What’s in it for them? That won’t be said, of course. Such things are never said.

    They need encouragement in government. Just as BT etc will do the minimum they can. They all have priorities which are other than the islands’. They’ll talk about neglected communities; but talking is their trade.

    There will be quibbles from ministers about whether or not a true monopoly is a monopoly; but nothing useful will happen without pressure.

    The comparison with Scottish islands is appropriate; but a difference between them and Scilly is that the SW of Britain is not seeking independence.

    A better comparison might be with the Falklands and all the little perks and payments that go there. Scilly was of use to the military further back than Falkland. But now Scilly does not have any purpose in that connection; and no minerals and oil. I make no judgment here whether it is right or not to support those islands, that is irrelevant here, merely suggesting we should be aware that they will smile and smile, with many assurances, and still do nothing; but they will spend when there is a reason. Let’s give them a reason.

    Consider the dire situation of some on the islands before Augustus Smith – and there was a man with a political agenda. (Perhaps those who cannot swim unaided to the mainland could be shipped to a Penzance workhouse.) That is how much Westminster cares about the islands. Zilch.

  4. Excelsior! February 11, 2013 at 11:53 am

    £80m a year it costs the Scottish Government to subsidise SOME of the islands. Not all, SOME. Essential lifeline services as well. Are we at that point?

    I say that the IOSSCo be turned into a company limited by guarantee, pay all the shareholders the cost value of their shares back, and ask the Prime Minister to give them £10m a year for the first 3 years, and then £5m a year thereafter. However, this should be on the understanding that a levy be imposed on islanders per year, payable to Whitehall, of £100.

    It should also be on the understanding that travel off the island increase incrementally if you travel (to and from the islands) more than 3 times in a year. So, £30 return or something for the first 3 times, but then £100 for every return you take over that amount. That way, people who can afford to leave the islands more often (not medical, that’s different and still £5), do not benefit more, IE, the rich do not get more use out of the £100 annual fee than the poor who cannot afford regular trips away.

    It’s a suggestion, I await anyone else’s attempt.

  5. John Hicks February 9, 2013 at 10:49 am

    Just one question that I don’t understand is Why is the Steamship company and Skybus so vociferously opposed to subsidies when if more people can travel to the islands then they are the ones who will benefit from all the extra income from freight as there will be many more tons of food stuffs, ales, toilet paper, ice cream, sweets toys, buckets and spades, tourist knick Knacks and all the other stuff that is needed to keep the industry afloat. I can think of no reason that is actually better than doing something that will increase tourist numbers again, surely with a subsidy everyone in the islands would benefit, even those who do not work in the tourist industry. The last point I would like to make is that as nice as the idea of no flying on a Sunday may seem to those who don’t want it, just how intrusive is the noise from a few small tonka toys taking off, they aren’t super huge jets. In the real world Sundays today are probably the busiest days of the week for family’s and it is perhaps time to consider Sunday transport to and from the Islands, Even if it was just in the mornings. I think it is well past time to remove craniums from bottoms and smell the coffee.

    • Nobby Nobbs February 9, 2013 at 4:48 pm

      The Steamship co don’t want subsidies because it would mean the subsidies being put out to tender and there is no guarantee the Steamship co would win. Another company might win the subsidy and start providing an alternative service, if that happened I guarantee that 90% of the islands population would move on mass to the newcomer.
      As it stands the Steamship co has the monopoly, they last thing it wants is competition.
      As an islander, the service the Steamship co provides has always been poor, the only reason anyone uses them is because there is no alternative.

      The Steamship co have just spent £2m on a boat that needs replacing in the next 4 years and built a terminal without a working runway. This shows you the standard of thinking at board level.

      The people who have resigned from Frist are no great loss, but the replacements are encouraging.

      • John Hicks February 10, 2013 at 12:44 am

        Thanks Nobby, I think I am understanding a bit more now.

      • Adam Morton,St.Martins February 11, 2013 at 10:33 am

        I think FRIST are being blamed in advance by the powers that be for what they must know is an inevitable drop in numbers this year. The two letters from visitors above make it clear what the reasons are and none of this has changed for the better.
        For many years it has been business policy in the islands to simply bump up the prices to compensate for dropping trade which anyone must know is not a long term solution. Since the recession most businesses have had to sort out their act or lose out to those offering better value or service. The SSco has no competition and so no incentive to change and with many supporters , dependants in such a small community it has much power and influence which makes it very difficult to challenge its policies. I suspect there is an element of running the industry into the ground over the next 5 years after which conditions will be ripe for a subsidy on the terms the government stipulated ,meanwhile there is no advantage for the company in a subsidy as it would only involve a lot of paperwork and justification for the same money or less.
        I am dubious if any other company would offer better service Nobby! Service costs money and a quick look on company’s house shows that there is not a lot of room for manuver for the IOSSco however I do think that better machines for the job could improve service. The company has a huge wages bill which is great for local employment but getting ever harder for local business to bear the costs of. I think we need three distinct classes and price bands for travel to these islands. People are still paying £300 each way to fly by castle air into Tresco in a small helicopter! This could no doubt be used for first class post and fares kept at price that pays for the service? Sky bus is adequate for most people in a moderate hurry if they can get their runway sorted. But what we lack is a truly value for money sea service that would be affordable to daytrippers,birdwachers,campers, young families and lower priced chalets occupants. Somehow the islands have to be accessible to a much wider section of the population. What I feel we also lack is adequate transport between the islands. This is a small place so to get value for money visitors need to experience all of it and so far St.Agnes is the only one with regular summer evening service. I fully understand the costs the MCA and fuel prices impose on operations but surly a regular shuttle service between the shortest routs Tresco – St.Martins , Tresco –Bryher ,Carn near- St.marys would only need a 12 boat and not be very tide dependant?

  6. Pat Hicks February 8, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    Dont think the public should make comments about these people resigning unless they know why.. i would have thought they must have a genuine reason. Perhaps you should ask these people why/what etc. which i think i will. as they say they’ll say yes/no or mind your own b—– buisness…. fair enough !!

  7. IOS fan February 8, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    We have visited the IOS a number of times and have used both the helicopter and the ferry. We were very sad to have used the helicopter for the last time in the summer of 2012 – it will be a great loss to the islands. However what has become a bone of contention for our family that truly love the IOS is the cost of getting there. We paid for self catering accommodation on St Mary’s last summer but the cost of travel from the Midlands far exceeded the cost of the accommodation which will obviously have to be taken into the equation in the future – so it looks like we will have to wait until the kids have grown up before we can come back. We really need FRIST to keep up the lobbying to make sense of it all.

  8. scilly visitor February 8, 2013 at 11:30 am

    Two of our friends recently travelled to Scilly from Bristol.

    Travel time Bristol to Lands End 3 hours.
    Travel Lands End to Newquay – Newquay to St Mary’s – St Mary’s to Bryher 6 hours

    Total journey time Bristol to Bryher 9 hours.

    When the helicopter was running the whole journey Bristol to Bryher could be done in 4 hours.

    Those who argue that the travel to and from Scilly has been largely unaffected by the demise of the helicopter are sadly wrong.

    Newquay to St Mary’s by Skybus costs £240 – Scilly will be priced out of the market for an increasing number of visiters and FRIST needs all the help and support it can get from those who are there to try to improve transport to and from the islands not resignations at the first sign of difficulties ahead.

  9. Mike Peaker February 7, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    I’m sorry that FRIST has lost four members of their advisory group for what seem to me to be somewhat illogical reasons. It is difficult to understand how one of the main hoteliers on St Mary’s and the Tresco Marketing manager can believe that FRIST does not have their best interests at heart. So I’m happy to add my voice to those above who have written in support of the efforts that FRIST are making to secure improved transport links to the islands. It is good to see that the message is getting through that FRIST is constructive, not destructive, that FRIST recognises the efforts the Steamship Company have made this winter, and that FRIST is working in the best long term interests of Scilly. But just sticking with the status quo is also sticking ones head in the sand. However hard the Steamship Company try to improve their service – and I’m sure they will, although with exceptional weather now seemingly the norm they should not bank on Lands End airfield being in any better condition next winter – I cannot see how they are going to be able to reduce fares to a level that will encourage new visitors to come to Scilly and lapsed ones to return. FRIST’s campaign for affordable and reliable year round transport links is the way ahead and deserves all the support it can get.
    Mike peaker

    • John Hicks February 9, 2013 at 10:30 am

      What sense you speak.

  10. Gonk February 7, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    Affordable Access to Scilly.

    That’s a great phrase, and maybe that’s the way to get support for this in parliament. So perhaps, for once, it’s not seen as the islands complaining, but the people wanting to access a part of the British Isles complaining about it.

  11. Dottie North February 7, 2013 at 1:11 am

    Clearly there are issues with transport….as long ago as last November I was re-directed to Lands End as a member of staff at Newquay was sick so the flight couldn’t go. Lands End is a bit of a joke, in transport terms, as grass runway can’t cope with rain – and the UK is now a very rainy country!

    Major issue, in my view, is the cost of transport. Adding £150+ per person to the cost of a holiday for transport is a huge turn-off. It’s so much cheaper to fly to the Scottish islands – Why?

    The UK government needs to get involved – anyone prepared to join me in starting a petition for affordable access to Scilly?

    Dottie North (lover of Scilly for 40 yrs)

  12. al February 6, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    Previously, Lands End wasn’t a problem as we had the helicopter as a back up. Now it is a very real problem. Losing Penzance as a rail interchange is a problem made worse by Skybus’s withdrawal of the only other rail interchange at Southampton. As lovely looking as Scillonian III is, she’s sailing on borrowed time. To undermine a group campaigning to rectify these problems and more is shooting oneself in the … To promote hope and optimism for future travel is a good thing but to ‘hide’ or mislead visitors about the present issues is plain wrong and will create bad feeling. Despite the challenges, I’ll be coming again this year but I don’t want to be treated as gullible and I want to see a group like Frist ensure I can get there in the future too.

  13. Lawrence Upton February 6, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    There are problems. “We are open for business” is not a good enough response to that claim.

    Sure some people get the wrong idea. I recently completed a Harris Poll online – I do them to win a prize (ha!) & they always ask one question that really needs reading. This is to alert Harris to those who are answering AGREE, DISAGREE or NO OPINION without reading the question.

    Is that the level we must work at?

    There are problems. It *is difficult to get to Scilly at present.

    In some ways Skybus has done a good job; but there are problems with systems and they are being denied.

    Blanket claims of “outstanding” add to the denial rather leaving those who experience the problems no alternative but to challenge the claim. I have taken the problems I see to FRIST and they have suggested an approach which will not generate unwanted / negative publicity.

    And the bad weather has not come out of nowhere. It has been on the cards as a strong possibility for some time. We can respond “I don’t know about climate change” and so on; but it will still change.

    Never mind, St Just will soon have a nice new building to sit in and look out at the soggy airfield. (Where I lkive the train service is awful but they keep decorating the station.)

    There are problems. Poor broadband is indicative of how Scilly is treated.

    Today I needed a phone box in Hugh Town. It wasn’t working. I went down to the green where there are 4. The first I tried was not working. The second said my card was inserted incorrectly whichever way I inserted it. Ditto the third. The fourth insisted I insert my card even when I had inserted it. But fortunately it took coins. Five boxes, all causing troubles.

    Yes, I might have had a mobile phone; but I had believed the pretence that BT is providing a good service.

    There’s a joke about two people about to be shot; and one says to the other: “Don’t say anything rude; we don’t want to get in trouble”

    With all due respect to those who have resigned, there are problems and they won’t be solved by complacency and hoping for the best

  14. Bill Hiner February 6, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    I just do not believe that potential visitors to these islands do not know how to get here! Anyone going anywhere nowadays just has to click a button marked “How to get there”.
    Every single website related to the Isles of Scilly has travel information and associated themes, such as parking.
    Ask visitors why they can’t come (as opposed to won’t) and they tend to say the same things:
    Cost of travel to the islands
    Cost of eating out and drinks in some establishments
    Accommodation costs in some establishments
    Unpredictable weather
    Lack of expendable income throughout the country

    I welcome the new faces on the FRIST group and I hope they
    have the mettle to carry on the good work.

  15. local February 6, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    It takes a brave person to speak out, but good for the ones who have. I must say that i have felt FRIST was getting a bit to political/personal. and as some have said the steamship have been doing their best in really bad weather, weather which have affected the whole country… we are not cut off and we are accessible…
    it does not help when these so called groups dont work together
    I dont know who Dick Cliffe is but we have lost alot of funding the last couple of years,. some because of penzance. and now they want to help. sorry but it has come a bit late!!!. but good luck..

  16. Richard Goodridge February 6, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    As a visitor to the islands for many years I was as distressed by everyone when the helicopter service ended.

    I was also very pleased to see that islanders and those on the mainland were doing something productive to counter this loss in the form of FRIST.

    It’s disappointing that some falter at the first hurdle – perhaps they couldn’t spare the time that others are willing to put in – and it takes a brave soul to withstand some of the criticism that can be seen on these pages!

    In terms of negative publicity – I’ve seen nothing more negative in terms of travel that what has been broadcast on Radio Scilly and the pages of Scilly Today – the only thing that has encouraged me has been the knowledge that FRIST are doing something about
    these problems.

    I think there needs to be a separation from negative publicity and FRIST. Terrible travel problems have been experienced by many, this is a fact. Let’s just hope it is a fact that will encourage our government to act. One thing, however, is guarunteed. Without FRIST’s hard work and commitment, nothing will change.

  17. Tresco Resident February 6, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Very disappointed in those that have given up on such a great cause.

    I’ve studied the FRIST website and their press releases very closely and have always been impressed by their restraint in terms of negative publicity.

    There can be no avoiding the fact that travel to the islands has been extremely difficult this past winter particulalry – this is not entirely The IOS steamship company’s fault – but it is a fact that cannot be avoided. Travel disruption would still be publicised locally without FRIST – at least their efforts are a chance for all us of on the islands to have the better travel links that we deserve.

    I’m especially surprised by Clifford Freeman – as I remember his article on these very pages criticising local businesses for poor servcice – if that’s not negative publicity I’m not sure what is! His comments are particularly hypocritical.

    I applaud those brave enough to put in the hard work and face criticism for doing so, only for the good of the islands.

    Thank you to Avril Mumford and Tim Guthrie for supporting such a worthy cause, it is much appreciated by many of us.