Lord Berkeley Launches Stinging Attack On Steamship Company Service

Lord Berkeley in the House of Lords

Lord Berkeley in the House of Lords

A member of the House of Lords and a regular visitor to Scilly has launched a stinging attack on the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company.

Lord Berkeley described transport to the islands as “an expensive and unreliable monopoly” on the House of Lords website “Lord of the Blogs.”

In his latest posting, he recounts his experiences of trying to fly to Scilly from Land’s End over the festive period.

Planes were grounded because of a waterlogged runway and passengers were eventually transferred to Newquay.

But Lord Berkeley asks why the planes weren’t also transferred before the bad weather, so more flights could be made to clear the backlog.

He says he was left waiting in the terminal for several hours with no WiFi access and “a complete lack of passenger information that is taken for granted on other more normal air or rail services.”

We spoke to Tony Berkeley, who is still in Scilly, yesterday.

He says relying on small planes for transport to the islands in winter, without a ferry, is not good.

He’s raised several parliamentary questions about the service in the Lords and says the new transport minister, Baroness Kramer, is interested in looking at the issue again.

Lord Berkeley says he can’t understand why some people with disabilities are having problems flying to Scilly when passengers on Scottish flights, using the same aircraft types, don’t.

He says someone “needs to get a grip on it” and wants Scilly’s Council to join forces with Cornwall to push the government for action.

A public service obligation and subsidy to run a winter ferry service, similar to services in Scotland, is “perfectly legal” he says. It just needs the local authorities and local residents to ask for it.

Lord Berkeley also rejects criticism that flagging up failings in the transport system could put off potential visitors.

He feels high prices and poor reliability are the real problem, citing the Council’s recent transport survey as evidence.

“It’s not the kind of transport service that anyone else in England would accept”, he says, and he feels everyone needs to “fight a bit harder for it.”

Steamship Company spokesman Jason Clark says they’re aware of Lord Berkeley’s comments and will be in touch with him directly to discuss his concerns.

He added that the Steamship Company is the “sole provider on the route” and does not operate a “monopoly.”

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