Former MP Determined To See Helicopter Project ‘Cross The Line’

Andrew George

Andrew George

The islands’ former MP says he wants to see the plan for a new helicopter service completed. And he’s left the door open to stand again for Parliament if the political mood shifts.

Liberal Democrat Andrew George, who held his seat for 17 years, lost to Conservative Derek Thomas in last Thursday’s General Election, following a national swing away from his party.

Andrew says he doesn’t take it as “a personal slight” but hopes people “fully understood what they were voting for in preference.”

And he says he’s had “an avalanche” of calls and emails from the public since the vote.

“It’s clear they don’t want me to go away and not come back,” says Andrew, who says he’ll review whether to stand again at the next election over the coming years.

Andrew says he’s already received offers of work. Before entering Parliament, he worked in various sectors including farming and social housing.

He wrote the report that eventually led to social housing being built on the off-islands.

And he says he’s determined to see the launch of a new helicopter service to Scilly, something he was personally involved in before the election.

Andrew says “of course” as a candidate he would have liked to announce it before the vote, to help his chances.

But he’s still keen to see it through, saying that he doesn’t like to leave jobs unfinished.

There’s now a clear business case, in which the numbers “add up” and aircraft are available from AgustaWestland, he says, adding, “I don’t need to be an MP to make it happen.”

Andrew says he loved serving the islands but it was “like representing two different constituencies,” because the way things operate here is so different from the mainland.

And looking back he feels that a lot has been achieved on the islands, such as the current work to extend the harbour, a new school, resurfaced roads and runways, and the improvements to the off-island quays.

He says a lot of resource has gone into Scilly.

But on the subject of recent problems at the Council, he regrets that the islands have lost some “phenomenally good” community leaders like former Council Chairmen Mike Hicks, Roy Duncan and Dudley Mumford.

Andrew says he often thinks how things might have been handled differently if they had been at the helm.

And he says it’s a shame that sometimes personal difference becomes the issue rather than coming to “a calm and rational consideration of the challenges the islands face.”

Andrew is particularly proud of the introduction of the Supermarket Watchdog, which was a national campaign that he led.

He said that made real changes to the way farmers and growers who supply supermarkets are treated by the large companies.

And he also feels satisfaction at stopping the Conservative’s policy in the early 90’s of giving 50% Council Tax rebates for second homes, something he describes as “morally offensive.”

Andrew says it took a while but they managed to end it, even though the Tories later introduced other tax loopholes.

Andrew has already written one book and says he’s picked up enough anecdotes and lessons in Parliament to fill another. Now might be a good time to start, he says.

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