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.

16 Responses to FRIST Asking Government For Scillonian Winter Subsidy Trial

  1. Nobby Nobbs April 3, 2013 at 5:40 am

    If the route had a public subsidy, then it could be run in the interests of the islanders and visitors and not the shareholders

    As to the “you choose to live in a remote place” argument, the same could be said for the Police, The NHS, The Dentist, The Post office, Western Power, BT, The BBC Transmitter; none of these ‘public services’ make money here but are provided under a universal service obligation.
    Would you prefer these services be cut as well to save money.

    Like you say, the visitors subsidises cheap local travel, but has anyone asked them what they would like; when would the visitors like the boat to sail?.
    As someone who used to be a visitor, the early sailings from Penzance and the late returns certainly didn’t suit my needs, having to travel down over night and then having to drive back again through the night, or the costly over night stays each end of an already expensive holiday.
    The islands survival depends on the tourist industry ,so perhaps we should cater to the visitors needs more. (see comment above from visitor Steveatt)

    As a private company and the sole transport provider to and from the islands what would happen to the islands if the ISSco went bust?

  2. kev April 2, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    Well said Eyes wide shut, thank god for some common sense. Mr Nobbs, your personal vendetta against the ISSCo is too obvious, and clouds your judgement. Do you not understand..the ISSCo is a private company, it needs to make a profit, otherwise it folds as per BIH, which was also a private company, but directed its profits elsewhere!! And we already have a subsidised service, we islanders don’t pay full fare, in case you Mr Nobbs haven’t noticed, and who covers that cost?? Our visitors, it is they that make the whole service viable, not us islanders. Do you really believe that in the grip of a desperate recession, alongside horrendous cuts to local authority services and benefits (just look at the news today), that we islanders are entitled to subsidised transport, paid for by tax payers, for choosing to live in a place of outstanding natural beauty, with the lowest crime in the country, 25 miles off offshore? I think you need to get real and we need to count our blessings

  3. Nobby Nobbs April 2, 2013 at 12:27 am

    If fist could get a subsidy, then by the laws that govern such things, the subsidy would have to go out to tender with no guarantee that the ISSco would win it.
    It would be interesting to see how another operator would run the route. Not saying they’d be any better, but it would be interesting what someone else would/could do

  4. Ginnick April 1, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    And there we have it, everything cleared up thanks to eyes wide shut, I wish I could type that much without getting bored! Imagine the SC3 departing at 0500, all of those poor taxi drivers having to get up even earlier to drop people off, I’m sure that would go down well, and for the carriers and Richard hand.

  5. eyes wide shut March 31, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    i think some of you keyboard warriors need to come outside occasionally and a suggestion would be to come down the quay on a thursday morning and see what the gry brings over.
    the scillonian would not cope with the amount and varying types of freight carried partly due to having some of her hold reduced and partly due to the carriage of dangerous goods act at sea which bans the carriage of mixed goods.If carried it has to be segregated.
    so petrol HAS to be separated from gas which the gry does if you ever noticed by the IBC’s of petrol being along the sides of the ship and the gas being down the stern.
    for most moderate sized freight delivery companies pallets are the norm , or pallet sized boxes.The Gry has a purpose built hoist to get these out from the ship in an efficient and fast manner and which also can be operated by 2 fork lift drivers.Whereas a crane using pallets would be slow in comparison and would involve more men: hooker on, crane driver, unhooker and a fork lift driver.So use containers io hear you say??
    well containers have to be then loaded by hand ultimately as one or two pallets will fit in the bottom but after that to be efficient with space they have to be filled up by hand which takes time. Also for the ship to be full with containers ,these containers have to be full as a half full container takes the same ship space as a full one.
    As you can see the the argument pallets v containers is almost a gry v sc3 ?
    The scillonian cant carry the fuels ,the amount of chilled and frozen, building supplies which can be odd ,oversized lifts,cars and boats to the same amounts as the Gry.
    HOWEVER ….the gry only sails 3x a week whereas the sc3 sails i could suggest that over that week and with planning and prebooking maybe the sc3 could actually do the job..
    The thing is and this is the great bebate : we have 2 ships which is the right way imo the sc3 is only in the relative great condition she is because she isnt used in the worst weather in winter,beaten to death for 20 tons of freight and 3 passengers.
    she costs much more to run compared with the gry.
    if she was to run all year then more crew are still needed as if she is open to carry passengers then they need crew for safety : more expense ,more costs and no guarantee that anyone will actually travel on the ship if its rough and skybus are running.
    one big issue with the chilled goods which the scillonian cant carry as she has no chillers is that with the gry you perisable items are loaded over the PZ day stored chilled in the ship and unloaded first thing in the morning and delivered to the coop or guest houses before breakfast mostly. so clearing the quay when its quiet and avoiding times when there are visitors around.
    compare that to the sc3 , the perishables are(were) loaded first thing in PZ put in non chilled containers then unloaded at lunchtime when also unloading upto 450 passengers and lugguge, the quay is full ,carriers are busy with luggage and the items stay on the quay.They are then delivered at a time when guest house owners prefer not to be in, at least thats how they used to prefer it.

    as to your idea of having the sc3 leave here in the moorings…when 0500 ? as surely you’d want to be over in PZ by 0800.
    what happens with the flowers and freight going back to PZ ? when are you going to load it 0400 or maybe the night before ?
    Gry starts work at 0600 and is gone by 0900-1000 clearing the quay.
    and be honest how many people and locals would REALLY use the sc3 at that time of the morning ?? it averaged out at 10 per trip when she ran winters before..

    i agree with above that a freight ship which could carry 25-30 passengers 3x a week would be a better solution than running a 450 seat ship at a huge loss for 6 months. this then at least gives a 3x a week chance of travelling between the islands.

    i think the company have it right and were quite frankly screwed by the route partnership and cornwall county council as they put all the work in to redevelop the route using a single ship design which wouldve involved chilled and freezer storage units on the ship and st marys quay.
    they then had to dig into the reserves of the company to keep the sc3 current and able to operate the route.
    the company have been in this route from the start , in bad times and good and they are doing the best they can with the assets they have and the help they are getting (or lack of) from the 2 councils.

  6. pat hicks March 31, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    Nobby Nobbs sometimes you really go to far and talk a load of tosh.. yes i know i do sometimes to… cheer up eh and stop being so negitive. summer is just around the corner my love !!.
    look forward to seeing you sunning/ swimming on porthcressa beach in your speedo’s , in our lovely warm sea. !! ha ha

  7. Kev Wright March 31, 2013 at 8:28 am

    Or alternatively they could employ more islanders? Obviously some highly skilled people are needed for certain jobs which might not make this possible for every position.

    There are cabins aboard the boat. The crew from the Gry stay on board overnight in cabins, so it is possible, if not necessarily the favoured option for those involved.

  8. yet another islander March 30, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    I’m not sure how many people are employed aboard the boat but they would all want somewhere to go home to after the ship had docked and you don’t need me to tell you that there’s something of a housing shortage on the islands.
    So do you think that maybe the I.O.S.S.Co is, in fact, employing common sense?

  9. Nobby Nobbs March 30, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Steveatt, the boat timings are based around the issco trying to maximize their profits by carrying day trippers.
    It would make much more sense for islanders and visitors if the boat started from St Mary’s and ended at St Mary’s as this would allow islanders to attend appointments on the mainland in the same day and would allow visitors to travel down through the day and catch the boat late afternoon rather than having to either travel down through the night or staying in Penzance overnight. The same would apply for visitors return journeys ie: If the boat departed St Mary’s at 7am they would be able to travel back home through the day, rather than the night or another costly overnight stay.
    But this is the ISSco we’re talking about, customer service or common sense has never been part of their mission statement

  10. Ginnick March 29, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    Kev, I am not sure why the Gry can carry some passengers with her cargo and the Scillonian can’t. I imagine it has something to with the design of the two ships and what they could withstand in the event of an accident, I really don’t know is my honest answer. I was merely pointing out the logistics of running the two boats as opposed to just one. And that puts me onto Steve’s comment, leaving Scilly early on a Saturday would currently have a knock on effect with the Gry’s departure. She needs that time in the mornings to remove the cargo from the ship, let the quay hands load the inter island launch and then depart. On an average day the Gry doesn’t leave port from St Mary’s until 09:30. Moving times and schedules around has to also intertwine with tidal movements as well.

  11. Steveatt March 29, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    As a visitor running scilly to pz then pz to scilly would be brilliant. Why not consider it on a Saturday? More time to travel home and more time to get to the boat on the way out. Or would that suit tourism rather than the staff?

  12. Ginnick March 29, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    Have you actually been down to the quay to see how much freight there actually is on Gry mornings? To be without a purpose built freighter throughout the winter months, and all year round for that matter, is naive! I am no expert on maritime law, but I’m sure there are limits on the amounts and type of cargo you can carry with passengers aboard. I am talking mainly about hazardous goods such as gas, petrol, diesel etc… There needs to be that separation, at a certain distance, between passengers and freight with the correct protection between them and the goods. The other factor with having one boat doing all of the freight is the time it will take to load and unload the boat each time. The Gry has a lift for pallets to be unloaded/loaded by a forklift truck and it also has a crane operating at the same time for heavier goods, cars, dangerous cargo etc… If the Scillonian were to do all of this, it would have to first unload the deck before it could open the hatch and unload the subsequent pallets (all individually stropped) one at a, painstakingly, time! And on top of that, it doesn’t have the room to store the pallets like the Gry does, so that means less freight each time and upset customers. The average time for a Gry unload/load (from st marys end) is 3 hours, expect to double that with the Scillonian. There is a good reason why the IOSSG bought the Gry and hence why they should continue to operate two ships. As for an all year round service, I think a smaller boat to carry up to 30 passengers would be ideal for the winter months, not the hoofing big white thing! It’s just not commercially viable and the government will never bend over backwards for us due to the reasons for not subsidising transport links in the first place!

    • Kev Wright March 29, 2013 at 9:11 pm

      I’m no expert either, but if there are limits on what can be carried on a boat with passengers then how come the Gry can take passengers now?

      Not criticising what you’re saying, I agree with most of it, just wondering.

  13. Kev Wright March 29, 2013 at 7:26 am

    Well when I went on the Gry as a passenger in the winter they didn’t have a shop or a bar open then! Can I sue?

  14. Nobby Nobbs March 28, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    I have to agree with JJ,
    The mantra oft trotted out by the issco is ” a company created by islanders for islanders” bla bla bla, when really, like all private companies, its a case of profit before anything else.

    I like the idea of a flipped service as that would actually benefit islanders.

  15. Judge Judy March 28, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Am I being naive, but if the IOSSCo sold the Gry, or let someone else use it in the Winter, or stopped using it altogether in the Winter, wouldn’t that a go long way towards making the Scillonian run affordable in the Winter months?

    As part of Winter sailing, they dont have to offer a bar or shop or eatery, just the bare bones of a ferry service. That would save on staff costs, surely? Again, am I being naive?

    Also, if the Scillonian flipped it’s service from time to time, ie, starting from the Scillies at 9am on a Friday, then the amount of day trippers would be quite impressive from time to time. Especially if they were to do it around the Christmas period for Christmas shopping.

    As an aside, the IOSSCo is a local company so to speak. The only thing keeping it profitable are the demands of the shareholders to do so. That said, perhaps the IOSSCo needs to go back to the basics of why it was created, to enable the island community to thrive. Greed seems to have gotten in the way of this I think.

    I mean, by way of example, the Co-Op charges us a fortune on the premise that they have to pay ‘freight charges’ for shipping things to the islands. Could the IOSSCo offer greatly reduced freight charges for the Co-Op? It’s an essential part of island life to shop in there, whether we like that or not, and maybe the IOSSCo should be pressured to take a slight hit on profit margins for the good of the island community as a whole, who should then see their weekly shop price go down, and may even lead to more choice in the coop.

    If they can’t do it, fine, but don’t go telling me that it’s anything other than greed, a lot of it from locals who already have more than enough money.

    Again, if someone can come up with a good reason for them not to make this happen then I’d be happy to entertain it.