Tresco Owner Describes FRIST Campaign As ‘Counter Productive’

FRIST are campaigning for a year round boat service

FRIST are campaigning for a year round boat service

The most high profile supporter of FRIST in Scilly has quit the organisation, claiming that the campaign group’s initiatives are “counter productive and divisive.”

Robert Dorrien Smith, owner of Tresco Estate, has been a member of the Friends of Isles of Scilly Transport since its formation last year.

The group has been campaigning for subsidised travel fares to and from Scilly, equal to the deal offered to Scottish islanders. Locals there have lower ticket prices because services are underwritten by government money.

They also have year round boat services, something FRIST wants for Scilly.

Some Scottish islands would not have links if their government had not stepped in

But the Department of Transport has repeatedly stated that there’ll be no subsidy here because we have the Steamship Company operating both air and sea services as a commercial operation.

They’d need to go bust or stop services before the government would step in, something they call market failure.

In a statement to Radio Scilly, Mr Dorrien Smith says he’d rather devote his energy to supporting organisations that are likely to produce a practical solution to the islands’ transport issues.

He says Tresco is working with the Department for Transport, Scilly and Cornwall Councils, airport staff and the airport consultants.

The estate is also in direct discussions with Skybus and the Steamship Company, the Duchy of Cornwall, the Islands Partnership, Local Enterprise Partnership and NHS, he added.

But in a strongly worded statement to Radio Scilly, committee member Marian Bennett, speaking on behalf of FRIST, said Mr Dorrien Smith was, “seeking to divide his successful up-market business from the needs of the rest of the community.”

She said he did not inform FRIST of what his concerns were before he resigned and she asked what was divisive about their campaign for a “small subsidy” for the Scillonian III to operate a winter service.

“Surely Robert should support that?” she said.

Marian said FRIST sees no reason to put out divisive press statements without any supporting evidence, but added, “the door remains open.”

Chair of Penzance Chamber of Commerce and FRIST member Dick Cliffe said, “different interests in transport have different concerns and different priorities.”

“The high end boutique tourism sector is less affected by high travel costs and community winter travel issues.

“FRIST has clearly ruffled feathers by mentioning the unmentionable but clearly somebody has to speak for the community,” he said.

Dick said members of the islands’ community feel that transport has been ‘stitched up’ to suit a small minority of interests. And he says the long term transport problems and the new winter transport issues have been “airbrushed out of the picture” to “avoid disturbing the serenity of the DfT during discussions to get funds to resurface St Mary’s Airport and help for Lands End Airport.”

The issues have not gone away and hoping that things will turn out alright is not a strategy, said Dick.

Earlier this year, Clifford Freeman, John Peacock, Alasdair Moore and Sam Guy resigned from FRIST.

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