Councillor Questions Airport Lease Decision

airport may 2015A St Mary’s councillor is questioning whether the Council has done the right thing handing back the airport lease.

The controversial decision was made in a closed-door meeting last month and the handover will be completed within the next 11 months.

The Duchy has confirmed that all the land and buildings at the airport will be transferred to them.

At last week’s Transport, Economic Development and Infrastructure meeting, Cllr Gordon Bilsborough voiced his doubts over the decision after Senior Officer Craig Dryden revealed an increase of 2,300 passengers between April and September this year.

That’s a 9% rise on the same period in 2014 and it means more income for the airport.

Craig said that finances were still “precarious” but the new “streamlined” airport management had brought tighter cost control.

But Cllr Bilsborough asked the meeting Chair, Robert Dorrien Smith, if giving up the lease had been the best choice.

Robert said that while numbers were up, that was compared to a bad year in 2014. And he said the decision was “history” because councillors had already voted on it.

Cllr Marian Bennett wanted to remind councillors that this year’s increase still didn’t mean the overall passengers numbers were anywhere near 2008 figures.

Craig Dryden agreed. He said around five years ago, the airport was getting around 130,000 passengers annually. That’s now down to 93,000.

Marian wanted the Council to request a breakdown of air and sea journeys from the Steamship Company.

She felt it was a reasonable request as the authority has a responsibility for transport, the community and tourism.

She pointed out that the airport and quay facilities are publicly funded and passenger numbers were “an essential statistic to have.”

Cllr Richard McCarthy agreed, saying, “we’re all in this together.” And he was curious to discover how many people had been transferred to the boat during poor weather in August, when there were 14 no-flying days.

But Cllr Ted Moulson was uncertain whether the Council had any remit to ask for potentially commercially sensitive data from a private company.

Cllr Dorrien Smith agreed that the Steamship Company would be approached for the information.

8 Responses to Councillor Questions Airport Lease Decision

  1. Nobby Nobbs October 30, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    Why not direct your views to the people in question

    • Ewart Less October 31, 2015 at 8:09 pm

      C’mon Nobby you know they read this stuff, however they have been told to ignore the electorate and put their trust in the proven track record of their illustrious ex RDA officers after all if they keep the faith long enough surely something will have to go right in the end?

  2. Adam Morton, St.Martins October 30, 2015 at 9:46 am

    Its heartening to see the results of Mr Leijsers leadership bearing fruit! He derailed the call for subsidy on the basis of “resilience”! Two years on and clearly a 50% chance of not flying in August justifies the investment in egnos and the terminal building!
    On the other hand it will be nice for the Council to be there at the opening ceremony in their suits and gold chains claiming the credit for the beautiful new quay extension and balcony . At a cost of £16m or whatever, i’m sure all the waiting passengers from the cancelled flights will appreciate it hugely! Of course the benefits to the local community and businesses will be immeasurable……………………………….. !

  3. Ewart October 28, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    The Council having surrendered the lease of the Airport and all its buildings etc. presumably,it will pass into private hands.
    Should,therefore all the grants that were given for the refurbishment of the airport be returned.
    Why should any private organisation benefit from the Public purse, if it is not recovered it means that the Public will be subsidizing a private enterprise.

  4. Public Domain October 28, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    History it may be, but not beyond scrutiny one hopes.

    As we, in the public domain, have not been privy to the arguments and evidence which presented this as the best course of action, then external scrutiny is impossible.

    What we do know is:

    * The Airport account ended the year in the red to the tune of £171k,
    * The capital project was overspent, and this may fall on the service too, although there were hopes that the government would foot the bill – any news on that btw?
    * Finances are described above as ‘precarious’ yet the budget set in March for the year was for a profit of £172k.
    * There were no finances presented to this committee for ANY service under the TEDI committees remit due to errors.

    If no figures were available now for the current position on the airport finances, it begs the question: what information did members use to come to their decision last month & did those figures contain the errors now being flagged up?

    This is an important decision regarding a key service, and yet it feels like it has been rushed through, in private, and based on potentially flawed data if just one month on members are already questioning it…

  5. P. Cuniary October 28, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    Are any of the key players on this committee significant share holders in the IOSSco and if so is it right and proper that these decisions about transport and infrastructure are being taken and directed by them?
    For once I doubt that the Linguist would count in their number but I would imagine another chairman does.

  6. Adam Morton, St.Martins October 28, 2015 at 10:05 am

    From previous news items it appears that passenger numbers in 2013 were 90.000. Was not a 7% rise claimed in 2014 and a further 9% now claimed this year? surely this would amount to 105.000? This is against the backdrop of IP claims of “fruit bearing” from their promotional efforts! SCIII has a reduced capacity down from 600 to 485 so its difficult to see where these extravagant claims are coming from!Not only this there were supposedly thirty od thousand flying in through Tresco which are now routed through St.Marys.

    • Mr S Pilmsole October 28, 2015 at 6:30 pm

      I used the boat a lot this year and rarely (if ever) was it full.
      And the way the ISSco chops and changes the boats leaving times at short notice can’t help, and as already mentioned in another post why oh why can’t the boat leave in time to catch the 19:15 train from Penzance.
      Forget day trippers, concentrate on serving the islanders and the tourists who come and stay here.