Election 2013: Steve Sims

Name: Steve Sims

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?

Clearly I’d like to see improvements and so would everybody else. I believe the hard surface runway at Land’s End will happen, although when is another matter. A subsidised winter ferry would be fantastic for the islands and I support the idea in principle, but remain unsure as to how achievable this is. I would also require more information before I could give an opinion on the possibility of a new helicopter service but what would I do, or more to the point what can I do? I can certainly encourage the council to work as hard as it already did at the failed route partnership to give any new proposal the best chance of going forwards and do more to encourage our Cornish counterparts to be more proactive on their side.

    • What are you views on how to tackle the waste issues on the islands? 

It has to go to the mainland for land fill. That is the only long-term solution and the longer we leave it, the worse and more expensive the problem becomes. It may be worth exploring a private initiative on this. It is also essential that the incinerator stops breaking down. We then have a blank canvas upon which to create a proper recycling centre at Moorwell. We must ensure waste never becomes such a problem again by finding ways to recycle unwanted goods and introduce initiatives to make everyone more aware about their individual responsibilities in waste disposal habits.

    • Do you believe the Council needs to be more open with the local electorate? How will you personally influence this if you are elected? 

This issue goes very deep with me. There does seem to be climate of concealment when it comes to salaries and recently the waste issue, let alone the school situation which has been running for a year now. I don’t know how much the public wish to know, but there should be access irrespective. A single page précis of meetings would be useful, rather than ploughing through minutes. This would be of use to councillors who are not on that particular committee as well. I’ve found councillors (or most of them) are pretty open but there seems to be quite a lot of information they are not privy to and this is wrong. As you and others have discovered, there seems to be a pretty cavalier attitude to FOI (freedom of information) requests, which should perhaps be overseen by a senior councillor, who then becomes accountable. At the moment the buck stops nowhere and this has to stop immediately.

    • The Council is facing a budget ‘black hole’ in the coming years. What are your top priorities for tackling this situation? 

Fewer chief officers would provide a massive saving at a stroke. Try to lease to a community organisation the QE2 sports hall. Though an asset to health and well-being, it is also a financial liability. We need a review into all areas of the council to identify further cuts without affecting front line service and also source additional potential revenue streams.

    • What do you feel is the biggest problem facing the islands? And what will you do, if elected, to try to tackle this issue? 

In the longer-term, an ageing population. The sheltered Carn Thomas scheme is a big step along the road and will free up much needed social housing for younger families so I encourage this initiative.

    • How involved should the Council be in funding tourism-related activities like the Tourist Information Centre? 

I think this should be moved to the private sector. Public bodies don’t do this type of thing at all well.

    • What do you feel makes you able to speak on behalf of the local electorate in Scilly as a Councillor? 

I was born here and have lived here most of my life. I’m pretty well educated, I can source solutions, I understand figures, I can talk things through to a logical conclusion and I have a healthy mistrust of experts. Perhaps more importantly, I’m concerned, I talk to a lot of people and actually listen to what they say.

    • If elected, how will you maintain contact with the local electorate? Will you hold regular surgeries or similar events? 

See above. And I think it would be a good idea for all major committees to hold quarterly or biannual public meeting in the Town Hall where local concerns can be voiced. I’m not sure of the utility of surgeries, unless there are a few councillors present but I’m certainly not against the idea and will ensure that I am easily contactable.

    • What has been your biggest achievement in life so far? 

Without dredging too far into my glorious past, writing this year’s pantomime and of course Request Stop.

    • 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? 

At the moment it’s not overly democratic, however with just the one ward, off island prospective councillors will be disadvantaged. Given the vote-for-who-you-know culture we have here, it would be very difficult for off island candidates to get elected. So whilst I encourage the idea of reform, it’s not entirely straightforward and I will only support reform that is fair to everyone.

    • Do you believe Mundesley House should continue in its current form? If not, what changes would you like to see made? 

As far as I know, the hostel is funded by central government so closing it down would not actually save us any money. I can see that there are issues regarding the funding and execution of 1100+ boat trips a year (10 trips a week x 38 weeks x 3 islands) but it’s more than a pecuniary issue. Closing the hostel is detrimental to after school activities, and 11-16 year olds need their peer group (possibly more than their parents) and would miss out on a lot of social interaction. I have spoken to some off-islanders on this issue, and they were vehemently opposed to closure so at this stage I’m against closing the hostel. Whether Mundesley itself is fit for purpose is another question altogether.