Election 2013: Gordon Bilsborough
Name: Gordon Bilsborough
Ward: St Mary’s
- What, if any, changes would you like to see made to transport provision for the islands? What would you do to influence this if you were elected?
Financial assistance for an all year round passenger/freight boat. Subsidies like the Scottish Islands for the air link. A hard runway at Lands End Airport. Improved navigational facilities at St. Mary’s Airport. This is a battle we cannot afford to lose and every avenue must be explored continually. If re-elected, I will support all these issues. Giving up is not an option.
- What are you views on how to tackle the waste issues on the islands?
Since all waste cannot be incinerated, some will inevitably have to shipped to the mainland. I am not a Member of the General Purposes Committee but am very conscious of this growing problem which cannot be brushed aside. However, I do not believe that waste should be deposited at several sites around St. Mary’s. I can understand the feelings of people living in roads subject to a regular stream of vehicles carrying waste to a dump. The pollution danger must be strictly monitored.
- Do you believe the Council needs to be more open with the local electorate? How will you personally influence this if you are elected?
The vast majority of items at Council and committee meetings are already discussed openly. Some items involving individuals or competitive contract tenders must, by law, be dealt with in closed session. I have always challenged any move to conceal information unnecessarily.
- The Council is facing a budget ‘black hole’ in the coming years. What are your top priorities for tackling this situation?
The management structure of every department must be rigorously scrutinised with a view to improving its efficiency. This will require the full co-operation of all concerned. Some activities which are desirable but not essential may well have to go. This exercise is a top priority.
- What do you feel is the biggest problem facing the islands? And what will you do, if elected, to try to tackle this issue?
Apart from the budget deficit, our biggest problem is to maintain reliable transport links with the mainland. Despite rebuffs from the government regarding transport subsidies similar to those enjoyed by the Scottish Islands, we must continue this battle. The Airport income is derived from landing fees for passengers and freight; it cannot be subsidised from the Council Tax. We must continue to press for funding an all year round boat and updating the Airport facilities.
- How involved should the Council be in funding tourism-related activities like the Tourist Information Centre?
I believe the Council should continue to provide a Tourist Information Centre but all organisations with tourism interests should co-operate with each other.
- What do you feel makes you able to speak on behalf of the local electorate in Scilly as a Councillor?
No Councillor can speak on behalf of the whole of the local electorate since not all the electors agree on everything. However, I do listen to peoples’ views before making decisions at Council meetings. Communication with the electorate is important.
- If elected, how will you maintain contact with the local electorate? Will you hold regular surgeries or similar events?
I am contactable by telephone, email and post, I am always willing to pursue electors’ queries and problems and meet them personally, My own experience of regular surgeries when I was a Councillor on the mainland was that they were sparsely attended. People did not like the “doctor’s waiting room” atmosphere. Hence, I do not see the necessity for surgeries. However, all Council Members must be prepared to listen to electors’ problems and take action where possible.
- What has been your biggest achievement in life so far?
In 1970, I was elected to St. Albans City & District Council with 57 Members covering a population of 125,000. I became its Mayor in 1978. This came as a complete surprise to me.
- Do you believe the current composition of the Council, with thirteen elected St Mary’s representatives, and two for each of the off-islands, is correct? If not, what changes would you like to see?
The current composition of the Council is disproportionate. It would be far more democratic (and cost efficient) to reduce the Off Islands to one Member each and St. Mary’s from 13 to 11, I made this proposal twice during my first period on the Council (1997-2001) but was defeated each time by the combined opposition from the 8 Off Island and a few St. Mary’s Members. I think we must try again to find a more overall democratic solution.
- Do you believe Mundesley House should continue in its current form? If not, what changes would you like to see made?
Whilst I can understand the purely economic reasons for closing Mundesley House, I think these are far outweighed by the pupils being able to stay on St. Mary’s during the week which enables them to participate in a variety of out of school activities.