Council Refuses To Make Airport Lease Report Public

airport 12The Council has refused a request to make public the contents of the controversial report that led to them handing back the airport lease to the Duchy.

It means the authority is effectively pulling out of running the airport, which could pave the way for it to be managed by a private company.

Radio Scilly formally requested a copy of the document presented on the 17th September to a secret session of the Transport, Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee.

At the time, Cllr Gordon Bilsborough opposed the move to hold the discussion away from public scrutiny, a proposal supported by Cllr Adrian Davis.

But Chief Executive Theo Leijser said that the report contained information that was considered to be commercially sensitive and that could affect the employment of staff.

All other councillors present voted to keep the subsequent discussion behind closed doors.

The decision was ratified by Full Council five days later, again following the exclusion of the public and press from the chamber.

So far, the Council has provided no official explanation as to why they’re handing back the lease.

Radio Scilly contacted the Council on 23rd October to request a copy of the report under the Freedom of Information Act – either in full or with the sensitive information removed.

Yesterday, the Council told us that they wouldn’t provide it, because it was “likely to prejudice the commercial interests of a person including individuals, a company, the Council of the Isles of Scilly or any other legal entity.”

Radio Scilly has asked the Council to review their decision as it’s in the public interest, based on the critical nature of the airport to all islanders.

We’ve also pointed out that all financial information about the airport is currently in the public domain, as it’s run by the local authority.

A report by Senior Manager Craig Dryden in the October Transport meeting showed that passenger numbers were up by almost 9% between April and the end of September this year.

And in April, councillors increased landing fees by 10% to generate more income for the facility and to rebuild the depleted cash reserves.

But the airport is still running at a deficit of around £150,000.

There’s also been no word yet on whether European funders will be picking up the bill for the £600,000 overspend on the recent airport runway and terminal refurbishments.

Cllr Fran Grottick contacted Radio Scilly yesterday to urge islanders to attend a public meeting this evening.

During the session, islanders will be able to ask Council Chairman Amanda Martin about the decision in a questions and answers session at the Old Weslyan Chapel. It runs from 6pm to 7.30pm.

7 Responses to Council Refuses To Make Airport Lease Report Public

  1. Timon Atica November 10, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    I am a long term visitor to the islands, at least twice a year since 1974, and have thus observed Scilly for some time.

    I realise not being a Scillonian means that I am not an expert – but I have always been amazed at the claimed expertise(sic) of Scillonians in so many things.

    I don’t understand why islanders need to see this report. You have elected councillors to act on your behalf – they have done so. That is democracy. If you wish everyone on the island to be involved in every decision – then elect 2000+ councillors, and see what happens.

    in addition, whilst it is possible that councillor Bilsboroughs’s heart is in the right place, from my experience of a number similar of organisations, he is probably not the best person to be on council, What Scilly needs is councillors who have a vested interest in the future and have time to do something about it. A look at the current council would suggest that there is little hope. .For goodness sake, younger Scillonians need to wake up and get involved. Start to look at this site for a start.

    • Adam Morton, St.Martins November 12, 2015 at 10:04 am

      Younger Scillonians? …………..Where? You would need to put two or three days a week to doing the job properly , Most non retired must work and a Councillor recently stated that she didn’t want people on low incomes entering politics. The only way you can afford to do it is having two or thee holiday lets, guess what? ….. Council planning policy says you can’t build any more. They refuse to push for help with transport costs and open up other opportunities and then moan that there aren’t any youngsters to run them about and do their odd jobs! You can’t own a profitable business and you can’t own your own house and the rents are too high to be supported by minimum wage jobs. I’m afraid its I’m alright jack and NIMBYism all the way , most off island seats haven’t even been contested in the last three elections. If you want a snapshot of younger Scilly then at the Newquay gig weekend ,all four off islands could barely field one team of seven!

  2. Fleshpot November 10, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    Perhaps the council was right to discuss this in closed session to start with but with the decision made, why then maintain secrecy when just being ratified by full council? and why not make the information public now?

    All the minutes say is that the Chairman remarked that the inability of a Local Authority to exploit the commercial operations of the airport was at the very heart of the matter, and that a private operator would not have the same obstacles.

    But what could these obstacles be?? Perhaps the intention is to open a casino?? or maybe a, ahem, *gentlemens* lounge??

    But that’s the thing about keeping secrets, people’s imagination runs riot.

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  3. Jeff Eastick November 10, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    SHAMEFUL !!!!

  4. SIG November 10, 2015 at 11:41 am

    I imagine the reason is embarrassment. But good for them I say, for actually recognising that they have no financial acumen or management skills left to run an efficient airport. The more services they hand off the better and the less need we’ll have for these ineffective councillors and under skilled bureaucrats.

    We should probably thank them for making themselves redundant and saving us the job!

  5. Bill Weaver November 10, 2015 at 11:16 am

    Let’s hope everyone attends!!

  6. Gordon Bilsborough November 10, 2015 at 10:13 am

    I was not convinced by the flimsy reasons given for debating the future of the Airport in closed session. I believe the public has a right to know the full details of the reasons for giving up the lease. That is why I voted against it. Hiding this important issue behind a veil of secrecy is just one more example of the Council digging its own grave.

    I hope people will pursue this matter at the public meeting tonight (Tuesday). I regret that I cannot be there due to a long arranged holiday.