Islands’ Partnership Needs Your Views On Scilly’s Transport

scillonian June 2015The Islands’ Partnership wants your thoughts on how Scilly’s transport provision should be improved.

Your priorities could be included in their submission to government.

Executive Director David Jackson says a range of themes have already been identified including reliability, passenger and freight cost, capacity, scheduling, connections and inter-island boating.

Your views on those aspects of transport are needed by Monday and David says they’re not an exhaustive list. You’re welcome to add extra topics if you feel something is important or has been missed out.

Recently the Local Enterprise Partnership Chairman Chris Pomfret claimed that the Islands’ Partnership members he’d spoken with had told him they didn’t want the helicopters to start again.

David says although government support for restoring the rotary link appears unlikely at this stage, the IP doesn’t have fixed views on helicopters and you’re welcome to share your views on the issue.

Now the IP has taken the lead on the transport agenda, David says it’s important that they consult with their 300 members on the islands and give them the opportunity to have their say.

But he says before submitting your proposals, you should consider how they could impact on the overall transport system.

David says there’s a danger that introducing another operator “might destabilise the system in the short term” at a time when passenger numbers are still recovering.

He says it could “jeopardise the economies of scale and operational costs” of the services and the transport hubs, particularly St Mary’s airport.

And he warns that it’s no use introducing new services, “that will set us back rather than taking us forward.”

Earlier this month the tourism and business body took the lead for presenting a unified Scilly transport ‘wish list’ to government.

The Council had overseen that task and finish group for the last year, but its members became dissatisfied with how they were managing the process and some questioned whether their views were being reflected.

The IP will now present that local opinion.

You can submit your suggestions whether you’re an IP member or not, but you need to do it this weekend.

You should email by Monday.

24 Responses to Islands’ Partnership Needs Your Views On Scilly’s Transport

  1. AJ Glover July 29, 2015 at 7:35 pm

    It really boils down to this….our transport system was designed before the islands started to rely so heavily on tourism, and yet the transport system remains largely the same, and is perhaps even worse than 30 years ago.

    Everything to do with tourism on scilly is half-arsed, and that’s why visitor numbers fell dramatically. The price went up and up and yet the service and ‘resort’ of Scilly did nothing to justify that increase.

    I’m doing myself out of thousands in consultancy fees here. There’s the answer, in two paragraphs.

    Greed is crippling the islands economy, it’s the same money in the same hands, in different guises, and it’s the same lack of imagination and business acumen that makes every idea of theirs fall at the first hurdle.

    The islands cannot create a suitable infrastructure for tourism to thrive, there’s too many uncontrollable factors in play. Tresco is the exception to the rule simply because it has a dictator, a CEO who runs an entire island.

    The government would be stupid to do anything to support tourism on Scilly, the islands deserve a better future, they shouldn’t aspire to be Costa Del Scilly, it’s a rediculous aspiration and fraught with risks and we’ve already seen it nosedive once.

    • Peter July 29, 2015 at 11:19 pm

      AJ Glover. I totally agree with your first two paragraphs, and not with the rest, except the Tresco bit.
      Scilly’s biggest asset is also its biggest problem: distance. Its “tropical” climate and its romantic distance from the mainland (“like being in another world blah blah”) are what attracts people. And its only significant industry is tourism. And tourism is the only possible industry that can take advantage of its distance. Every other suggested and historical industry will fail or has failed BECAUSE OF its distance.
      You used the swear word that some Scillonians seem to hate or fear: RESORT. But, yes, that is exactly what Scilly is. Until Scillonians recognise this and treat it and develop it as such, rather than pretending it’s a sustainable community in its own right which just has to put up with visitors as intrusions, then Scilly will be facing ruin. We need a resort atmosphere: street markets, palm trees next to Town Beach and Porthcressa beach, pastel painted houses, restaurants that stay open after 8pm, modern hotels and B&Bs etc etc. And, yes, I hear the groans about the palm trees. But you have to create the fantasy. You are in the entertainment business; that’s what the modern holiday-maker wants. For goodness’ sake give people what they clearly want, rather than insisting that you will not change and prospective visitors must take you as you are and like it or lump it. We are not talking Benidorm, but you could make an awful lot of positive changes without getting anywhere near losing the essence of Scilly. Tresco has done it.
      As AJ Glover says, Tresco is getting it right because it functions as a business, with a CEO who has a coherent business plan. We might cringe at the Hooray Henries who frequent Tresco, but we can learn so much from how it is being developed as a… resort. I’ve said this many times before, but Scilly’s only hope is a benign dictator, some wealthy person with a vision and a passion for rescuing the islands, a latterday Augustus Smith if you like. There is no point waiting for Scillonians to wake up – “dreckly” – from their slumber or for the various committees to pass yet another resolution to set up an enquiry or call in another highly paid consultancy. Frankly, Scillonians need rescuing from themselves for their own good.

      • Peter July 29, 2015 at 11:55 pm

        … continued…
        Of course, none of this is going to happen because Scilly, except for the few freehold properties, is a feudal society mismanaged by the Duchy. Businesses in Scilly cannot thrive because they cannot develop because they cannot expand because one day their leases will be up and the Duchy will take everything, so long-term future planning or investment for your business is pointless, unless of course you are called Dorrien Smith and have a guaranteed secure future.
        As a contributor on here several years ago pointed out, when island communities fail, their final demise is rapid (exponential was his word). I predict Scilly will be an abandoned overgrown wilderness within 30 to 40 years, either completely unpopulated or home to a small colony of feral alternative-lifestyle hunters and gatherers squatting in the worthless grand houses and hotels without mains power or drainage. Please prove me wrong. I hope I am.

        • Soutie July 30, 2015 at 11:27 am

          Peter – I agree that the transport situation is inconvenient, but your prediction of Scilly’s demise in 30-40 years is misplaced. There plenty of communities that are more remote than Scilly, where people still lead civilised and happy lives. Consider also, that over the next 30 to 40 years, the mainland will be developed beyond recognition, surely Scilly’s magic will become even more cherished? Alongside this, technology is changing working patterns. It is now possible for people to work remotely for extended periods and have well paid jobs for multinational corporations. That’s now…. In 30 years, will remote working be commonplace?….I’d say so. Look at how teenagers have adapted to using smartphones.

  2. Jane Wilson July 29, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    As someone who has travelled to Scilly on all modes and in all weathers, I can absolutely state the most exciting way was on the tiny plane from St. Just. You rumbled across a field and threw yourself off a cliff. It was the best start to a holiday. the helicopter and the bigger planes are like buses, efficient and boring. The Scillonian gives you a different view but takes too long. But my husband has a new reason to look forward to the bigger plane this year. He’s really hoping to fly like James Bond. Every other aspect of Scily travel is always A+++. We are welcomed, looked after with nothing too much trouble, even when the weather stranded us. Finally, in the end, it doesn’t matter how you get to Scilly, just get there!

  3. DJ July 29, 2015 at 9:00 am

    Dear Jeff,

    I do not think that I am looking back through rose tinted glasses – just 35 years plus of using BIH and its predecessors. It would be interesting to compare cancellation figures between BIH and Skybus. Towards the end of its service there were an increasing number of cancellations due to technical problems, but that was not surprising given that BIH had decided to end the service.

    The sooner a helicopter service is reinstated the better will be the tourism figures again, and that must be beneficial to Scilly.

    As another correspondent has commented why are so many people opposed to the return of a helicopter service. Could it be that vested interests of the IoSSCo are anxious to avoid competition to their current monopoly?

    • Adam Morton, St.Martins July 29, 2015 at 11:47 am

      DJ, I don’t think many people are against the return of the helicopter , most however accept that it’s unlikely. Its not on to simply introduce a state sponsored competitor without offering equal opportunity to existing operators. I think much of the helicopters alleged efficiency was down to being 1/2 a mile from the station and car park!

  4. Jeff Eastick July 28, 2015 at 7:35 pm

    I think , DJ, that you are looking back at the helicopter’s reliability through rose tinted glasses.

  5. DJ July 28, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    Dear RogerP- because unlike Skybus the helicopter was reliable and efficient

  6. RogerP July 28, 2015 at 10:26 am

    How can so many people complain about the cost of travel and then wish for the return of the helicopter which cost 33% more thank Skybus during its last season of operation

    • Vaughan Ashby July 28, 2015 at 10:49 am

      Roger, in my post I didn’t mention or complain about the cost of travel although I know that some do. For many visitors coming to Scilly on holiday paying a little bit more to go on a helicopter (probably the only chance they will get in their lives) is well worth paying the extra for. I am sure that for those having to travel regularly cost is an issue but for those visitors who travel once a year it isn’t.

  7. Wendy July 28, 2015 at 7:37 am

    How about a Scillonian sailing that actually compliments other transport services. I’ve been asking the IOSSCO for years why for 2 days a week they can’t leave at 2.30pm or 3pm so you can either get a train or Europcar, without an out of hours rip off fee. Tucker cars are brilliant but don’t have the volume of cars required.
    The IOSSCO have told me they won’t change because of day trippers, but what about attracting more long term visitors who are put off by the fact their journey then requires an extra night or two in Penzance.

  8. Vaughan Ashby July 27, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    As a mainland tour operator bringing visitors to Scilly every year and having a great love for Scilly, I felt obliged to respond to David’s request given the importance of the matter and notwithstanding the short notice given. Moreover, I am happy to make my comments/feedback public as although I am likely to attract criticism from some quarters, I feel that it is critically important to have a mainland perspective. Some of the things I mentioned I know aren’t practical like lengthening the runway for bigger aircraft and some of the points I raised about hand luggage won’t affect many people but it is important to have feedback representative of all aspects of tourism to the islands; this was therefore my reply:-

    “As a tour operator who brings tourists to Scilly reliable transport is something that concerns me greatly. In the days of the helicopter I brought 20-30 clients every year as that was part of the thrill of the holiday. Since the demise of the helicopter however, things have gone downhill considerably to the extent that I now have only 3 bookings for this October, down from another low of 16 last year. In fact last year was the first year that I had to cancel a second week tour and this year we have had to do the same. The reason is quite simply transport as all my clients are birders and the options now are very limited. Most of my clients are first time visitors to the islands and now only have an option of the boat or small plane and most of them opt for the plane as despite it’s cost, elderly people do not travel well on an old unstable boat. My clients are not interested in how comfortable the airport facilities are, before the refurbishment they were excellent and we never had any complaints whatsoever, they are concerned about reliability and the amount of hand luggage they can take as you can’t put highly fragile optics in the hold. On these two points:-

    Reliability – Fairly poor with regular delays and cancellations meaning people miss train connections. Why was money spent on a new airport terminal when it would have been better spent on providing equipment to allow planes to land in adverse weather conditions?

    Convenience – Why was money spent on the new terminal when extending the runway for using slightly larger STOL aircraft which would allow passengers to have a decent amount of hand luggage. I have found Skybus to be totally inflexible in allowing passengers to carry things like telescopes, binoculars, laptops, large cameras and lenses as hand luggage.

    There are also several other matters such as why were the services from Bristol and Southampton cancelled? Sure there is capacity at St. Mary’s airport for more flights? This has certainly lost a few clients who consider the train service and roads to Penzance very poor.

    Concerning the boat, this would be a better option for most people as it doesn’t have so many restrictions on passengers taking hand luggage. With the quay on St. Mary’s being lengthened and the channel deepened when can we expect a much larger and more comfortable ship offering a 7 day service?

    Sadly, I am seriously considering dropping Scilly from my itineraries after 36 years unless some action is taken soon, it is simply a waste of time advertising it when the transport infrastructure is so poor.”

    Hopefully all of my comments will be seen as constructive. Incidentally, Skybus did respond saying that fragile optical gear has to go in the hold of the aircraft, a not very helpful suggestion for fragile equipment.

    I will continue coming to Scilly every year but the question is will I have any clients?

  9. Ian T. July 27, 2015 at 11:35 am

    What people want is a service that integrates with mainland services and, in particular, the railway. Flying to/from Newquay and using the train is really impractical – the trains from Newquay to Parr are infrequent and don’t fit in with flights anyway.

    As I have mentioned before, if you are forced to use the boat back from Scilly on a Saturday it is impossible to get a train that goes beyond Plymouth – great!

    It is not possible to get to Penzance for the boat by train and not even very practical by car – unless you live in Cornwall. Staying overnight increases the cost somewhat.

    As for people not liking small planes – fair enough but there a quite a few who wouldn’t travel by helicopter though I always used it and would should the service ever be restored.

    • Scilly Me July 27, 2015 at 9:06 pm

      As has been mentioned before, it is perfectly possible to catch a National Express Bus from Penzance at 20.20 which goes all the way to London with loads of connections en route.

      It is quite possible to catch a train which coincides with the boat on everyday except Monday but you do have to get up early; I know this as I’ve used the service.

      Quite frankly, I think that you’ll find that most people drive to their point of departure to the islands and I would question where you obtain the information to make such sweeping statements about what the rest of us do or don’t want.

      As for people not liking small planes get used to it because I doubt that there will ever be a helicopter link again.

      Ian, I fear that you do no service to our tourism industry with your constant complaints about everything from the pavements, transport, the fact that the residents dare to drive cars, the type of car we drive, the provision of 4G (I for one hope that our Chief Executive was correct in his prediction that it would arrive by December) and so and ad infinitum

      It’s no wonder you left these glorious islands for the delights of the mainland given that little here achieves your high standards.

      • Ian T. July 28, 2015 at 9:54 am

        You seem to read a lot into my statements that is just not there. Traveling by National Express is not really an option for many without involving long journeys to connecting points.

        The 20.20 service wouldn’t get me home and, from experience, it’s almost impossible to catch it by the time you’ve found your luggage on the quay in Penzance. The train problem is peculiar only to Saturdays as there is no ‘sleeper’ service.

        I have never suggested residents should not drive cars full stop! It’s the unnecessary use that bugs me as much as it does here on the mainland.

        The pavements are just as bad in many mainland towns and are a major problem to people with walking difficulties like me. Surely it would be more sense to have smooth pavements rather than billiard surface roads. Cars have suspension – my feet don’t.

        I find your last comment a little objectionable as we do return to the islands regularly despite the high cost of doing so a fact that is acknowledged by most people.

        • Vaughan Ashby July 28, 2015 at 10:21 am

          I couldn’t agree more about the state of the pavements on Scilly Ian, they were a disgrace last autumn. All that money seems to have been spent on encouraging people to drive but I would like to point out that most/all visitors walk. Surely the extra cost of making the pavements as smooth as the roads in Hugh Town would have been minimal compared to that spent on the roads. I and many other visitors have to drag heavy cases along which is virtually impossible on the pavements so we are forced to use the roads and have received verbal abuse because of this. As visitors are important part of your economy, treat them at least equally with road users.

  10. Old local July 26, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    What has the IP and Council got against a possible Helicopter service starting again sometime. There was nothing wrong with the previous service by BIH, they were doing a very good job untill their senior management was made a good offer for the eastern green site in PZ. When they do these surveys on scilly as to what people would prefer they always seem to ask the few who are pro Skybus never I think the majority who would prefer a helicopter service to PZ as before. The flight on the helicopter was part of visitors holiday likewise all the people staying in cornwall who had a day trip or scenic flight on them, if the service was reinstated it would bring a lot of people back to us who will not or do not like flying on small planes, and it is amazing how many there are if you ask. If a new service was started up you would be hard pressed to get a seat on the first flights as they would be snapped up very quickly.I know a lot of people wont like what I have said but as someone who travelled on the helicopter for many many years I know which service I and many if not the majority of visitors and locals would prefer. More visitors means a better economy for the Islands

    • Ewart July 28, 2015 at 8:10 pm

      Old Local, I wonder had the BIH management had an alternative airfield to fly from would there still be a helicopter service.
      I could be misstaten, but I am certain I read in the local press that an approach was made to the ownwrs of St.Just(lands end) airport to. on a temporary basis to operate from this airport this request was refused. It would be interesting to know the reason for this refusal.

  11. VIP July 26, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    So the basic gist of the IP’s announcement here is to give us rushed ideas on transport by a tight deadline but try not to upset the status quo? I’m sure if the IP trawl through previous posts on transport here on Scilly Today they will find numerous suggestions for improvements to our shabby system. If they were truly serious about trying to make a change to our transport system, surely advertising this every household well in advance would be a good start!ip

  12. Keri Jones July 25, 2015 at 11:52 am

    For clarity and to be fair to the I.P Deb, members of the Islands’ Partnership were given details of this consultation on Wednesday evening within their private mailing group. It wasn’t possible for us to arrange an interview in time for Thursday morning’s Radio Scilly local news at 7am but we did air excerpts of an interview with David Jackson, recorded on Thursday, 5 times hourly from 7am Friday. So people have been given a bit more time to respond than a request for input “posted on a Friday afternoon” but, yes, it does require a fast turnaround!

  13. neil July 25, 2015 at 11:35 am

    Its all very well consulting the 300 or so members on the islands, but what about the thousands who travel or want to travel to the islands. Judging from other articles on this web site it seems easy to say everything will be ok, but these days you need to attract tourists to earn money for the islanders. You should be consulting everybody who lives on the islands and as many of those visitors as possible to gain a good overall picture of what is happening and what is required. As fo another operator (of any sort) upsetting the current situation – something new and innovative might encourage more tourists and add to the flexibility needed these days to cater for residents and tourists all year round.

  14. Deb July 24, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    Two points:

    A) is it appropriate to make such an announcement on Friday, expecting a response by Monday during the Islands’ busiest time of the year?

    B) with regards to the helicopter – I haven’t heard anyone say they don’t want the helicopter so not too sure who Mr Pomfret asked. Moreover, wouldn’t it be more appropriate to say all suggestions will be reviewed, with appropriate feasibility studies and impact assessments to determine the optimum way forward? The tone seems ominous, and hence likely to diminish the true wishes of members of the community. One needs to bare in mind the well being of ALL members of the community and not beholden to the few.

  15. Pat July 24, 2015 at 9:24 pm

    What sort of genuine consultation or request for input is posted on a Friday afternoon, stipulating responses due in ‘by Monday’? Given the IP is there to stimulate debate and represent islanders (vs the ISSC), this seems a rather poor show.

    Please can we see a genuine attempt to solicit quality input and views, with an agreed response from the islanders then submitted up to London. It would be advisable to do this before the new Cornwall devolution bill comes in, with all transport powers and spending then the prerogative of Cornwall Council