Prospective Conservative MP Says He’ll Fight For Scilly Transport Subsidy

Derek Thomas

Derek Thomas

The man who wants to become Scilly’s next Conservative MP says he’ll fight for a subsidy on our transport route.

Derek Thomas was visiting St Mary’s yesterday to meet with residents and Council representatives.

He says many islanders have written to him to say that transport is a key issue here.

Derek says he wants to fight for a level playing field with the rest of the country and questioned why some Scottish islands can get subsidised fares when travellers to and from Scilly can’t.

Last week the Council stated that it would not ask the government for an operating subsidy, saying it would be a waste of time and money.

But Derek says he wants to find out how hard the Council is trying. He believes a subsidy could be an “absolute game changer.”

He says the government and Europe need to recognise it’s a hugely important link and agree with islanders what’s the most important form of transport, including potentially a new helicopter service.

Building a more sustainable economy here would also be high on his agenda.

Derek says the islands are heavily reliant on tourism and feels we need to look at other ways to make money.

He says superfast broadband could allow people to do business here in the same way they can do anywhere else in the world and hopes islanders will take on that challenge.

“We need to look at what types of jobs can be created here” says Derek. “We can’t always rely on grants, year after year. That’s not an honest way to build an economy.”

The feedback from islanders who filled in his recent survey suggested that people didn’t want the current restrictions on housing to change.

But Derek feels there needs to be a discussion on housing policy to create an environment where skilled people can move here and contribute to the local economy.

Islanders he’s spoken to have told him they feel ‘disconnected’ from the mainland.

He says it’s important that whoever is the next MP needs repair the damage done to our relationship with Penzance following the rejection of the Route Partnership Scheme.

Derek says tourism on both sides of the water has taken a hit because of it and there needs to be a “mature debate about how we go forward together.”

“Penzance without the Isles of Scilly has a very challenging future,” he says.

You can hear the full interview with Derek Thomas here.