Duchy’s Harbour Proposals Could Be Excuse To Hike Scillonian Fares Says FRIST

scillonian summer 2014Friends of Isles of Scilly Transport says a proposal to charge Scillonian passengers a £1 each way levy could be an excuse to hike fares in the future.

The transport campaign group was responding to the Duchy of Cornwall’s consultation on proposals for new governance arrangements at St Mary’s Harbour.

The Duchy announced plans to relinquish their role as the Statutory Harbour Authority last August and are now in the first stages of approving new arrangements with the government.

FRIST says the proposed ‘landing charge’ of £1 per passenger on visitors arriving on the Scillonian could result in increased fares and they believe it would need to be applied to all vessels travelling between the mainland and Scilly.

They say the increase in visitors travelling by sea rather than air since the demise of the helicopter service proves that cost plays a very significant part in the health of the transport and tourism sector on the islands.

They’re also worried there would be nothing to stop the harbour operators from hiking fares even higher in the future, both for ferry passengers and those arriving on cruise ships.

Scilly has been “extra-ordinarily successful” in attracting cruise liners, says FRIST, and any reduction in their number would be to the detriment of the islands as a whole, and could damage our reputation.

FRIST says the option of a ‘Trust Port’ run by a Board of Commissioners would be preferable to placing it in the hands of the Council to operate.

They say the local authority is already stretched by its current remit and responsibilities and lacks professional maritime expertise.

That option has already been rejected by Scilly’s Council.

They also rule out a Company Port, operated on a commercial basis, because the interests of shareholders and harbour users would “almost certainly” be in conflict, and balancing the books would be “challenging.”

FRIST have called for staff employed by the Steamship Company who work on the quay, including passenger and freight handlers, to be employed by the new harbour board

They say this will ensure the islands have access to competitive services in the future, and are not beholden to a single company.

They’d also like to see the Harbourside restaurant, which is undergoing refurbishment, handed over as part of any arrangement. FRIST says this could be “the main money-earner” for a new harbour operator.

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