Councillor Calls For Public Say In Steamship Company Services

lands end airport signA member of Scilly’s Council believes the travelling public needs to have greater input into the services delivered by the Steamship Company.

It follows the announcement that the company is likely to receive an EU grant of £1.3m, half the total cost, for hardening the runway at Land’s End.

Councillor Marian Bennett says the private company will be receiving public money so should allow travellers to have a far greater say on the cost of fares and frequency of flights, in the same way that bus and rail operators have to consult their user committees.

She tabled a series of questions at last week’s Policy and Resources committee meeting, questioning the nature of the relationship between the Council and the company and asking whether staff and consultancy costs were being reimbursed.

Marian says the Council and the company need to work together strongly but roles should be well defined and there should be some distance.

Cllr Bennett wants to know why the Steamship Company previously said it could afford the runway upgrades itself and if its accounts would be open for public scrutiny.

She also asked if similar support would be provided to another airline wishing to start services to the islands.

Marian, who is a prominent member of the transport campaign group FRIST, says she fully supports the Steamship Company and the upgrades to St. Mary’s airport are vitally important for the future of the islands.

But so is putting financial safeguards in place at a time when the Council is under serious financial pressure, she says.

The funders should require a service level agreement to be put in place and she feels FRIST, with its large support from travellers, would be well placed to help negotiate what that should be.

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