Scilly Businesses Want Tourism To Feature In EU Cash Bid

economic development eco dev signScilly and Cornwall businesses haven’t been effectively consulted by the Local Enterprise Partnership in their pitch for up to £1 billion of European cash.

That’s the view of the Cornwall Business Forum, who say they represent businesses on both sides of the water and claim to have 437 members on the islands.

Their Chief Executive Kevin Oliver says the funding wish list sent to government by the LEP is dominated by new technology like renewable energy and major schemes like the Newquay aeronautical hub.

Kevin says it leaves out the areas covered by the majority of the region’s small businesses, including tourism, fishing, agriculture, engineering and food and drink.

“They should be building on what we’ve got, not trying to create something we’re not,” he says.

But Sandra Rothwell, Chief Executive of the LEP, says they have to offer the right mix of new innovations, larger strategic initiatives and smaller local projects.

Garrison Campsite owner Ted Moulson is concerned that our visitor economy is hardly mentioned in the plans outlined in the draft paper for spending any cash that’s secured.

Sandra says Scilly’s challenges have been addressed, including ideas to maximise the quality and value of the tourist offering here.

Economic consultants Ash Futures have drawn together the strategy for the LEP and presented their draft findings to islanders earlier this month.

But the regional plan was submitted to London last September. It was sent back to the LEP late last year because it lacked the evidence to support their funding case.

Ted wants locals to review the plans and feed back to the LEP. He says he’s worried that the money could bypass us and will be spent on projects with theoretical value, which are judged by “mandarins in ivory towers.”

Ted wants more in the proposals to help small business and favours a flexible loan scheme.

Kevin Oliver also feels that there needs to be revision. He says local businesses should be sending a strong message to government if they don’t feel part of the process or if they think that plans won’t be of benefit to them them.

Kevin wants the LEP consultation to be repeated with all businesses and economic sectors given a chance to feed back their views.

Sandra says the LEP understands how important it is to listen to the business community and if the messages aren’t getting through to Ash Futures, she’ll make sure it’s “pushed harder.”

The Cornwall Business Forum will address the LEP with their concerns on May 28th.