Public Meeting Hears Town Hall Restructure Has Saved Up To £400,000

town hall rear 2Airport parking and after-hours antisocial behaviour were hot topics at a public meeting organised by the Council last week.

Just over forty people attended the meeting in the Town Hall, where Council officers and elected members including Chief Executive Theo Leisjer and Chairman Amanda Martin answered questions from islanders.

Changes to the parking arrangements at the airport were a concern for some attendees.

Economic Development officer Diana Mompoloki said the new car park was designed to improve safety and security and was the best use of the limited money available for the work.

She said that while parking in the new bays is restricted, residents can still park their cars on the informal grassed area.

And any parking charges would need to be debated by councillors before they are introduced.

Earlier this year, Steamship Company Chief Executive Rob Goldsmith said in a Radio Scilly interview that Sunday flying couldn’t go ahead because there weren’t enough air traffic controllers.

Mr Leisjer said this wasn’t the case and the Council had successfully trained an islander to take on the role in just 7 months.

He said if Skybus asks for Sunday flying, the airport will provide it.

Problems with noise around some pubs was also a concern, with attendees wanting to know what the Council was doing about it.

Diana Mompoloki said they couldn’t stop local businesses going about their lawful activities, and it had been difficult to enforce licence conditions without an Environmental Health Officer present on the islands.

That’s due to change in the New Year with a new appointment to that role.

Mr Leisjer said the amount of rumour and gossip on the islands was “unbelievable” and he was keen to bust certain myths that had developed.

Earlier this month, official financial data on the Council’s website, which details payments and expenditure, stated that a six figure sum had been paid to six named staff recruitment agencies. At the time, the Council declined to respond to our questions on the expenditure.

In the meeting, Chief Executive Theo Leisjer denied that the Council had spent £100,000 on recruiting new staff. He said the majority of that money was used to provide statutory services during the restructuring work.

The restructuring had brought savings of between £350,000 and £400,000 already, although Theo says the main aim was to make the authority more productive.

And he said the Authority had no intention of “forcing” residents to drive electric cars. They couldn’t do that, he said, but it was their responsibility to enable people to use them if they wanted to.

He also said no decisions were being taken in informal Council meetings behind closed doors as that would be illegal.

And there’s no intention to “concrete over the islands” by building 120 new homes, as recommended in the Ash Futures report.

Mr Leisjer promised to have detailed plans and targets in place by March for how the Council would deliver its services in the future, so the community could hold them to account.

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