Tresco Councillor To Head New ‘Super-Committee’

Cllr Robert Dorrien Smith

Cllr Robert Dorrien Smith

The Council’s new Transport, Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee will be headed up by Cllr Robert Dorrien Smith from Tresco.

Robert was elected into the position at last Thursday’s meeting.

Earlier this year, Cllr Dorrien Smith argued for a lower cap on airport fees, claiming that officers had failed to take into account a rising trend in passenger numbers when making their recommendation for a 5% increase.

That was later doubled to 10% at Full Council.

The new ‘super-committee’ has the widest remit of any Council group, merging the former Transport Committee with General Purposes, which looked after water, sewerage, waste and other aspects of islands’ infrastructure like roads.

Economic Development, which had been under the Planning umbrella, has also been incorporated.

The Council’s newest member, Ted Moulson, who was elected last November, will serve as the Vice Chairman.

Ted gained the role by a single vote over the other candidate, Cllr Marian Bennett.

Marian, who is a founder member of the FRIST transport campaign group, had earlier sent a letter to all councilors setting out her bid for the position.

Marian said she had been “frustrated at the narrow remit” of the former Transport Committee.

She said she was very supportive of the Council’s efforts providing vital infrastructure for transport.

But she felt the main objective for the committee was to keep the airport’s reserves in surplus “as an end in itself,” rather than increasing passenger numbers, sustaining the health of the economy and improving the quality of transport services.

During the meeting, councilors were given the latest performance figures for the airport, which supported Cllr Dorrien Smith’s more optimistic forecast earlier in the season.

Passenger numbers were up by 844 over the predicted levels in April, an increase of nearly 11%. And landings were up by 112, an 18% rise, even though there were three days of no flying and two days of disruption.

The combined effect of these increases meant the airport raised an additional £4,815 during the month.

However, the airport has a long way to go before its reserves reach the £200,000 that the former Transport Chairman said is required for the facility to operate sustainably. In March, there was just £51,000 left in the account.

14 Responses to Tresco Councillor To Head New ‘Super-Committee’

  1. Jane W June 15, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    We can, and have, gone round and round on the issues of IOSSCO and their ‘service’ to the islands, but I’d like to rekindle it once more. They cannot offer an appropriate service to the islands.

    The Scillonian is not fit for purpose.
    From the design to the timetable, it’s not fit for purpose. The boat should make the lives of Scillonian people easier, instead it serves to make the lives of hotel, restaurant and guest house owners easier. I don’t own a tourism-related business, it doesn’t serve me and my family who wish to take day-trips to the mainland at an affordable price.

    The same is true of the Skybus, which operates a small schedule in the winter, at big prices. The service is shabby, is unreliable, and is not fit for purpose.

    Now, you can (and will) make the point that “tourism keeps us all alive, ergo, shut up”. However, I challenge that theory.

    I have a right to live on these islands, regardless of tourism. As someone born on these islands, at this hospital, I can confidently claim to be an indigenous person. If the government feel I should not have a right to live here then they should offer to pay for my relocation to the mainland.

    My wellbeing, the wellbeing of my family, should not be based on whether or not the IOSSCO shareholders wish to cut costs in a certain area, or save fuel, or whatever other financially-based decision they wish to make. I do not accept that I live in a privately-owned holiday resort off the coast of Cornwall. This is, was, a viable community based on fishing, building, and flowers, and tourism was a by-product of having a tranquil community based on living sustainably. But now, the ambience of the place has changed, because we’ve just pushed aside all the stuff that made us special and we’ve just turned into a gross mish-mash with tourism dominating everything.

    Tourism is not sustainable here, not with this transport operator who tries to serve the needs of a resident population, and serve the needs of tourists. It has to be one or the other. And they have made their choice. The timetables and the prices tell you all you need to know, that the residents of Scilly are ‘add-ons’ to their business. A business that was funded through local money, through families buying shares, to get a link to the mainland that served the people of Scilly well. This ethos is now dead.

    So, what can be done about it?
    Perhaps the government can start to treat residents of Scilly with a little respect? The government funded the British colony of St Helena to the tune of £30m a year, and just spent £218m on a new airport for them.

    It’s interesting to note that they are having problems in Shetland this month, with facebook protests against ticket prices.
    At least they DO something about the prices, whereas we on Scilly just take it.

    That said, at least Shetland has three operators flying to 8 different destinations! Not sure if they have subsidies any more, but in 2006 they were subsidised to the tune of £14m.

    That said, the sea routes are brilliant.
    You can get from Aberdeen to Lerwick, a trip of 12 hours, for an adult cost from as little as £27, and you can even hire an executive cabin for the trip at a cost of £100.

    Caledonian MacBrayne Ltd run the routes around the Hebrides, and are a government-owned company, ergo run for the people of the Hebrides and not run for the wealthy.

    The Isle of Man is a tax-haven and the Manx government is laden with UK government-funded benefits. The local equivalent of their IOSSCO was sold about 4 times, and is currently owned by Banco Espírito Santo who paid over £220m for it. The

    The low-tax culture has created an appealing haven for business and the wealthy – so much so that industries like offshore banking are replacing traditional and agriculture. It has boosted wages which are 50 per cent higher than in the UK. The finance industry creates 40 per cent of the island’s economy.

    The Steam Packet Company is required to fulfil the terms of a User Agreement negotiated with the island’s Department of Transport.[citation needed] Under the 2004 extension of the Agreement, the following minimum service levels include 936 return sailings to North West Ports per year, and 63 return sailings to Ireland per year, that’s 999 guaranteed return sailings per year, on state of the art ships and big catamarans.
    Meanwhile in Orkney, they are serviced by Serco, through government subsidies, and signed a six year contract worth £243m.

    You can also do the 30 mile trip from Scrabster (Scottish mainland) to Stromness (island) in 1 hour 30, and it does TWO return trips a day (so you can leave Orkney at 0630 and return at 2030), 7 days a week. There’s even an extra sailing between june and august.

    Costs around £18, and just to add insult to injury, look at what their ferries can offer inside:

    Arran can be accessed by ferry in 55 minutes, 5-10 times a day depending on season, and that’s 7 days per week. Return price £7.50, and under 5’s go free.


    The list can go on and on, but what you can’t lose sight of is that these communities were given assistance, and we have not.

    We deserve a better transport system, a cheaper system, a more reliable system. If that means creating a deep-water port than so be it, let’s get on with it. If the IOSSCo can’t provide it then we should damn-well ask for one from the government. If the IOSSCO can’t give us a proper service, that locals want, then they should do the honourable thing for the islands. WHY CAN’T WE GET TO AND FROM THE MAINLAND IN ONE DAY, AT AN AFFORDABLE PRICE, ON A BOAT? It’s 28 miles, it’s not 200 miles.

    • Peter June 15, 2015 at 11:12 pm

      Jane: I vowed to give up posting on here several months ago, as I was bored with myself and the same old themes. But your extraordinary posting deserves a comment. My fundamental response is: MARKET FORCES. You can argue all you want about your right to be housed and transported at the UK taxpayers’ expense. You already are. I have established from previous posts that there is no way that Scilly is self-funding via the local collection of council tax and thus, i, as a UK taxpayer who funds your lifestyle massively from my income tax payments, which subsidise almost every aspect of life on Scilly, have every right to comment on this website, even though I do not live in Scilly, but am a hopelessly addicted regular-ish visitor. Don’t misunderstand me, I have argued ad nauseam here for the need for improved transport links to Scilly, and on a personal level I have a great deal of sympathy for your arguments. It sickens me to watch Scilly being destroyed whilst apathy reigns. But on a political level, Scilly IS, despite what you say, ALL about tourism, and nothing else. All the industries to which you refer died out long ago due to… market forces, and so too will Scilly’s tourism industry, unless Scillonians wake up from their coma and start to run a 21st century tourism industry (there are honourable exceptions on the islands of first rate modern tourism-related businesses, but most are abysmal). You can moan all you like about the reliance on tourism, but that’s the reality. I grew up in the north of England and I could moan about the pollution and exploitation of the workers, but without mining or wool or cotton processing or heavy engineering my ancestors would have died of starvation. Eventually, subsidies will not be enough, and the whole Scillonian economy will fail. How you will get off the islands and be re-housed and re-employed on the mainland I do not know. I doubt that the UK government will see it as their responsibility to do so, barring a humanitarian crisis. But, then again, historically, Scilly residents lived in a third world subsistence economy until about 150 years ago whilst the rest of Europe was flourishing economically (as you say, there WAS an economy based on fishing and flowers, but it died). So maybe, once the tourist bubble has burst (and many Scillonians seem to forget it is only a relatively newly established industry, not some permanent guaranteed money-tree), you will return to that third world economic state and you will indeed be shipped off the islands like our current middle-eastern refugees. You do indeed have a right to live on the islands, but you do not have a right to be funded by the taxpayer, nor do you have a right to have your travel funded by us all. There is no God-given, or even taxpayer given, right for you to live comfortably and travel freely to the mainland at your whim. Without any industrial divergence away from tourism (and I have suggested ideas several times here and been mocked for doing so, even though one of my ideas – space/night skies related services – has recently been floated by The Clever People), Scilly is doomed, and your houses will be worthless as the islands’ population will be decimated. The solution is improved transport, to enable short break holidays which are now the lifeblood of UK tourism, but that won’t happen unless flights are convenient, from more distant UK airports, year-round, and more comfortable with bigger aircraft. And that won’t happen until St Mary’s airport has a longer runway with modern technology to combat the adverse weather conditions which prohibit flights currently, and that’s just not going to happen, because no one will seriously consider the upheaval and massive building involved in extending runways out to sea, most especially, I suspect, the Duchy, which is stuck in its medieval timewarp. Transport of tourists by ship is a non-starter: hardly any tourists will spend hours driving to Penzance from the north, midlands or London to spend more hours being tossed around on a freezing cold sick-bucket then do the whole thing in return as part of a so-called relaxing long weekend break. And so you are all doomed. But I will continue to visit and enjoy the beauty until the islands are eventually closed.

      • Jane W June 16, 2015 at 4:26 pm

        By not investing in the islands, the government are punishing me for being born somewhere in the UK. If the islands cannot sustain a community and the government want to move us to the mainland, then why did they agree to fund the building of a new school, and relay roads, and invest in our waste and water infrastructure?

        The underlying message is, “yes, the Scillies are a place you can live and work, here’s the money to enable that”. But it’s not enough.

        And Pete, my taxes go towards your motorways, your healthcare, your police. I don’t get fair access to healthcare compared to you, I don’t get fair access to the rest of the UK compared to you. I didn’t CHOOSE to be born here, but the government certainly allowed me to be born here, to be raised here, and yet my involvement with the rest of the UK seems to stop there because transport across 28 miles of water is so prohibitive.

        Funding cheaper, more reliable travel to the isles is something that everyone could enjoy, not just residents.

        Public funding in the south-west as a whole is lacking, always has been. How long did it take to get the rail line open after the storms? Towns in the north don’t even come close to the austerity in the south-west, some of the housing estates were ranked as the poorest in Europe at one stage. Just because we’ve got nice views doesn’t mean we’re paid well, or have great facilities.

        Another reason to step-up transport to the mainland is in the interests of terrorism. How easy would it be to get a person into the UK from the islands? A private plane, a boat, and then a trip on the Scillonian, hey presto you’re on the British mainland.

        If the British government can invest £220m in St Helena, they can sure as hell invest half as much into Scilly to ensure it survives. I’m not sure what the price would be of closing the islands down, but factor in payments to homeowners for their derelict property (which they did in Somerset after the floods), and relocation costs, mortgage payments to banks, and the government would be lucky to get the islands rehomed in the UK for less than £100m and would be the biggest mass evacuation/rehoming of a community in UK history? All can be avoided for £100m invested into the islands.

        If we were a town in the UK we’d be connected by road. For the government to lay 28 miles of dual carriageway would equate to £364m. For a two-lane road it would be £224m.

        • Peter June 16, 2015 at 8:00 pm

          Jane: you make some fair points in reply. But no one in Whitehall gives a stuff about a couple of thousand people on rocks 28 miles out in the Atlantic Ocean. Not enough votes in it. Maybe you need to find oil in Scilly. Charlie Boy could use his influence instead of prattling on about his pet subjects, but the Duchy is stuck in a timewarp and I’m sure sees no reason to bring Scilly into the 21st century. I recently drove round the housing estate he has built on the outskirts of Dorchester and it is a most extraordinary un-human soul-less place, like a film set.

        • The Patrician June 16, 2015 at 11:21 pm

          Blah blah blah blah blah – we won’t get a subsidy, the Scottish PMs voting in an English Parliament won’t allow it.

          • High Lanes Drifter June 17, 2015 at 9:18 pm

            You are so right Stuart, (by that I mean correct not blue of course). If the enfeebled rudderless Labour party hadn’t been such an embarrassing disaster we may have stood moore of a chance.

  2. Mr Mole June 12, 2015 at 10:01 am

    WHEN PEOPLE WILL YOU REALISE THE HELICOPTERS WON’T COME BACK! The largest helicopter operater in Britain couldn’t make money doing it. What pray makes you think any other company could? If Mr Dorrien Smith believed it do you not think he would have invested some serious money into it himself? It’s not like he doesn’t have the capital. He is howver a major share holder of the Steamship Company. I don’t think he will be championing your choppers! Here’s an idea, why don’t all the people who think the helicopters a good idea put their money where their mouths are and invest in a new company. Or are you not as confident in its success as you thought? Why not all of you buy shares in a helicopter company that already exists to get them here? Or are you not sure your money would be safe? If I were you I’d forget the helicopters and worry more about your airport. The way it’s going it will be bankrupt soon. It needs more than increased numbers to save it. Raising £4,000 in five months barely scratches the surface. One sick atc and everything disappears. Good luck. You’re Gina need it.

    • Mr Agusta June 13, 2015 at 7:17 pm

      Dear Mr Mole,

      I hope that you have a hat that you can eat when helicopters return to Tresco and Scilly

      • Mr Mole June 15, 2015 at 9:52 am

        What company? There are none. The only company that has been mentioned will cost a damn fortune compared to the amount that BIH used to charge. People dont come to Scilly because of the price. Please enlighten me on why people would use a service which will cost them considerably more. The council is a disgrace there and the sooner Cornwall take over the better. At least then you would have some people who know what they’re talking about rather than jumped up toffs who have been handed their existence on silver platters. The only way you’ll get a new service is through government subsidy. However the government won’t give a subsidy to a location that has more than one travel provider. Therefore the helicopters would be another nail into that well worn coffin you call your tourism industry. Best thing that could happen to that place is a bloody great bridge and a Butlins!

  3. Jonny Exile June 12, 2015 at 8:58 am

    Hopefully this is the adult supervision arriving at last.

  4. Nobby Nobbs June 11, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    Why not use the waste at Moorwell to build land bridges to the off islands, that would be a great infrastructure project and I’m sure we could dip the pockets of the European economic development fund……..again.

  5. Saruman June 11, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    Thank goodness – at last someone with business experience and a vision for the future of the islands. It is a shame that Marion Bennett did not get the vice chairman’s role, but let us hope that as part of the committe’s work they are able to assist with the return of a helicopter service to the islands

  6. Ben June 11, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    Maybe the first bit of waste management is putting the right person in charge of managing waste management.

  7. Dr. Randolph Hessing June 11, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    Good, maybe we can review and improve the current plans for wast management on the Islands now.