FRIST Asking Government For Scillonian Winter Subsidy Trial

The Scillonian III

The Scillonian III

The transport campaign group, Friends of Isles of Scilly Transport, is asking the government to subsidise a trial winter sailing of the Scillonian III next year.

Group member Lord Berkeley has written to the Steamship Company to outline FRIST’s goal for a service between November and March, with a short break for maintenance at the start of 2014 if necessary.

FRIST, which claims over 2,000 supporters, agreed this as a short-term goal in a recent meeting. But advisory group member Marian Bennett says their principal long-term objective remains unchanged. They will campaign for an affordable, reliable, all-year lifeline service to Scilly, comparable to that provided in the Scottish Isles.

FRIST says Scilly’s MP Andrew George MP has agreed that the possibility of a winter Public Service Obligation was worth exploring further.

Diana Mompoloki from the Council’s Economic Development team says FRIST’s goal is ambitious. She says it’s unusual to have a part-service subsidised.

The Government have to decide whether we needed the support, she says, and as we have planes and the cargo ship, arguing the cost benefit to the DfT would present a challenge.

Speaking earlier on this year, Steamship Company chief executive Jeff Marston told Radio Scilly that towards the end of the company’s last winter sailings programme, the boat sailed with an average of 10 passengers on board.

Jeff says their current focus is the start of the sailing season, the opening of a new passenger terminal at Land’s End next month, and the delivery of a new Twin Otter aircraft from Canada.

He says the company is working with the islands’ Council to address transport issues, in order to continue to meet the resident and visitor needs. He says they would be willing to look at any financially viable proposals to extend the seasonal operation of the Scillonian III.

FRIST appear uncertain whether the government will fund any winter sailing trial.

In a statement they warn that it is important not to raise expectations at this stage.

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