FRIST Welcomes Council U-Turn On Travel Costs

scillonian summer 2014Campaign group Friends of Isles of Scilly Transport say they are pleased that the Council appears to have made a policy U-turn in pursuing reduced travel costs for locals.

Chief Executive Theo Leisjer and Chairman Amanda Martin met with Transport Minister Baroness Kramer in London on Thursday. They presented the views of the recently convened transport discussion groups.

The two forums – one for the community and one mainly for the transport sector – were set up this spring after a delegation of islanders appeared before the government Transport Select Committee.

Baroness Kramer advised the group to come back with a decisive plan explaining exactly how they expected the government to assist.

Theo and Amanda told the Minister that the discussion groups felt reliable, integrated and affordable transport was needed.

The potential for a ‘social needs’ subsidy for locals was also explored at the meeting. We understand that a freight subsidy is no longer being pursued.

FRIST Coordinator Marian Bennett says she’s pleased that the authority now has similar goals to FRIST, who have advocated year-round, affordable travel.

Pursuing a subsidy represents a change of tack from the Council position outlined in a public meeting in the Town Hall in April.

Then, Council Officer Diana Mompoloki warned against route subsidies, which she felt could dissuade any future airlines from starting routes to Scilly. And Mr Leisjer stated that it would be “impossible” to get government support because of the high level of service currently offered by the Steamship Company.

On April 2nd, Vice Chair of Transport Steve Sims also told Radio Scilly that the Town Hall’s view was that a subsidy won’t happen and pursuing it was wasting everyone’s time.

Discussions will now continue and Baroness Kramer has been invited to visit Scilly later in the year.

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