Councillor Criticises ‘Demand’ For £23,000 From IFCA

matt lethbridge sea fisheries vessel 2A St Mary’s councillor has criticised a ‘demand’ for £23,000 from the islands’ Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority, or IFCA at last week’s Full Council session.

This follows a recent IFCA committee meeting where the authority agreed to levy the Council for a proportion of their running costs, something that is permitted under government rules.

Cllr Dudley Mumford said he agreed with the concept of inshore fisheries, but felt they “needed to scrutinise costs like any other department in the Council is doing.”

And he took offence at a letter ‘demanding’ payment of the levy from the Council, saying a ‘request’ for payment would have been more appropriate.

But maritime officer, Steve Watt, told him that the IFCA was a statutory function and there’s a responsibility on the local authority to fund it.

And he said a Defra ‘New Burdens’ grant of £110,000 to the Council included £23,000 for fisheries.

Steve warned that the current grant-funding period would end in 2015 and any local authorities that had not been seen to support their IFCA financially could be denied further funding

And that could mean the IFCA would have to merge with another authority, most likely Cornwall, which could cost Scilly around £70,000 a year, said Steve.

“We are the only IFCA that doesn’t get any support from the local authority,” he added.

Cornwall give their IFCA £1m each year.

But Cllr Mumford said £23,000 was a lot of money, almost as much as the grant the Council gets from the government to freeze Council Tax.

“If you look at the minutes, you get the impression that this is such an important committee that it doesn’t need to follow the directive of value for money,” said Dudley.

Cllr Chris Savill supported Dudley, saying that if the Council approve this, the IFCA need to set aside some of the money to repair or replace their current rib.

The Isles of Scilly IFCA cost £123,000 last year. That is expected to rise to around £133,000 in 2013/14.