Government Responds To Select Committee Report On Scilly’s Transport Issues

scillonian summer 2014The government says it hopes recent investments in Scilly’s transport infrastructure will improve reliability. And it says it wants the Council to take the lead in defining a long-term vision for the islands’ transport.

The comments were by the Department for Transport as part of their response to the Select Committee report on passenger transport in isolated communities.

In March, a delegation of businessmen, FRIST and Council representatives were called before MPs to discuss our transport issues.

In their report, the Select Committee wrote that they welcomed discussions between the Council and the DfT on introducing subsidised travel based on social need.

And they said the DfT needed to recognise the challenges faced by residents accessing healthcare and other vital services on the mainland.

In their reply to that report, published last Friday, the DfT says it does recognise those problems and how these have become worse since the withdrawal of the helicopter service.

But they say investments from the private and public sectors, including the hard surfacing of Land’s End runway and the £7m government funding for vital quay improvements, announced over the summer, should improve freight handling and resilience.

They also downplayed discussions between Transport Minister Baroness Kramer and the Council about a residents’ discount scheme, which they said was “an option but not discussed in depth.”

The Dft has made it clear that any specific intervention by government would need to be supported by evidence and a consideration of options.

Marian Bennett from FRIST, which campaigns for year-round affordable transport to Scilly, says she had expected this type of response from the government.

But Marian is pleased that the DfT has said the Council now needs to develop a long-term strategy and identify what further support might be needed in the future.

The government says the authority needs to take the lead to build a consensus among the public and key stakeholders.

Marian says FRIST is looking forward to participating in those discussions and she feels the Council should get on with forming a coalition of users that includes a wide selection of groups like the Duchy and Islands’ Partnership within its make-up.



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