Election 2013: Chris Thomas

Name: Chris Thomas

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?

I think the ISSCo are doing all they can at the moment to provide a good transport system to the islands for both sea and air. They have invested heavily in their vessels particularly Scillonian III to make the sea journey more pleasant and the ship now defies her age. The Skybus fleet has expanded by one Otter and through better utilization of their fleet of aircraft are endeavoring to satify the increase in demand for seats since the demise of BIH. The new terminal at Lands End is to be applauded and hard runways are expected this year so that we do not suffer the difficulties of last winter.

We now have to look forward to a replacement vessel for Scillonian III in the near future that is designed fit for purpose but not necessarily faster and better seakeeping qualities. It would be nice to reduce the travel time but it would be at a cost because more speed means more fuel. It is more important that it is very comfortable and have more things onboard to entertain passengers and have children facilities. I would hope that we could have a limited winter service especially to cover poor visibility problems of flying.

Subject to CAA approval it would be nice to improve our airport in order that we can operate for longer in reduced visibility conditions. New routes and carriers should be fully investigated to encourage more tourists from other regions and even France and Ireland.

I would like to continue with the Transport Committee where I have been involved with both sea and air transport to the islands and have considerable knowledge due to being involved with the Route Partnership and working as Captain on ferries for many years.

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

We have to address this huge problem with the cooperation of the Council and Public it is going to be a very expensive and difficult operation to remove the alp. The incinerator cannot catch up with the backlog and therefore shipping the waste to the mainland for disposal must be a priority not shifting it around the island. We will need help from the Government and possibly the EU to do this and also install a much more efficient incinerator that would be able to keep the tip under control. Waste heat from the incinerator could be used to heat the nearby school. Recycling must be improved and people be more responsible for what is thrown away. We have waste consultants working on some of these issues.

    • 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 Council needs to be more transparent in how it operates Meetings are webcast and the public can attend meetings and listen to debate from the public gallery. Closed session section of committee meetings is for the protection of individuals under discussion and contract tenders for supply or work.

Public meetings would help to explain what goes on and who does what in the Council these should be held two or three times a year.

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

Every department must be thoroughly scrutinised and any savings that could be made be implemented immediately. We cannot afford first class services at this time we have to ask ourselves whether we can afford what we are getting. It might be painful and it might well result in some loss of jobs. We have to prioritise what is essential and what is a luxury in these austere times.

    • 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 ‘black hole’ Transport both by sea and air. There has been a lot of talk of subsidies similar to the Scottish Islands this is not going to happen while we have a commercially viable company providing all transport to the islands. This has given the public false expectations that we will be treated the same as Scottish Islands but this would only happen if our sole provider were to fail and the Government took over the routes. We must support our travel provider and continue to improve both our sea route infrastructure and airport to future proof it.

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

Tourism must be supported but it is not an open ended cheque accommodation providers, shops,restaurants and pubs etc should make suitable contributions to advertise our product. We all need to work together to achieve the best result.

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

I am a local and I feel I know the Islands and most of the electorate fairly well. I have a desire to protect the islands and improve the prosperity and welfare of all who live here.

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

I am in regular contact with the electorate on a daily basis in the street at social events when anybody is free to discuss any matter that is concerning them. My door has always been open to discuss Council matters and private which many have taken the opportunity to do. I am not sure whether surgeries would work here but willing to give it a try

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

Obtaining my Master’s Foreign Going Certificate then getting command at 30 years old. I had achieved what I had set out to do.

    • 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 system needs to be reviewed and consideration given to voting as one Parish to be more democratic. It is necessary to have representation from each island but some thought is needed to how this could be achieved. Perhaps if it was all one Parish then the candidate with the highest vote from each off-island would be their representative. The total number of Councillors if reduced could provide problems with the make-up of committees.

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

Any changes would have to be with full consultation of off-island parents but it is expensive to operate and the subject comes up frequently on St Mary’s