Conflicting Views Expressed Over Quay Project Progress

st marys quay welcome signThe Duchy Land Steward says he’s “struggling to recognise a sense of urgency” from Cornwall Council over plans to refurbish the quays at St Mary’s and Penzance.

Chris Gregory was speaking at yesterday’s Transport Committee meeting, where members heard that the project was entering “a very critical period.”

Strategic Investment Manager Diana Mompoloki said Cornwall, who are running the project, have submitted a draft business plan to the Department for Transport, which included the St Mary’s scheme, plus more limited work at Penzance including dredging of the harbour.

Diana said the last meeting in March between project members including Cornwall and Scilly’s Councils, the Steamship Company and the Duchy, who own St Mary’s quay, had been “prickly” and she didn’t want to raise anyone’s expectations that the scheme would be approved.

And some members asked who was pushing the project on the mainland, following the death last month of the former council chair, Mike Hicks. Marian Bennett said Mike played a strong role in “fighting our corner” with Penzance Town Council.

Diana said realistically, they needed a decision on funding by May and the contracts signed by October, in order to secure the European funding needed for the project. Chris Gregory called on councillors to “add gravitas” to the project, in order to secure the funding.

But while the islands’ side of the project appears pessimistic, Bert Briscoe, Cornwall’s portfolio holder for Transport, was much more upbeat.

In an exclusive interview with Radio Scilly, Bert says he’s been very keen to bring people together and as far as he’s concerned, both sides are aligned and moving forward.

He says the dredging in Penzance is essential to allow the Scillonian to get to the quay, but there’s still an issue in Penzance over “the dreaded words, rock armour.”

Bert says, “We can live with overtopping as long as we can get the boat tied up.”

He says it’s regrettable there was a breakdown in communication on the mainland, but he feels that Penzance has now got its act together and is coming back to Cornwall Council with a credible plan.

And he feels the most important thing is that the mainland recognises their responsibility to the islands and that the islands keep open the communication.

Bert says the draft business plan is now with the DfT and all we can do is support them in their evaluation.