Councillors Say They Won’t Approve £4m Hitachi ‘Smart Islands’ Project Until They Have More Information

town hall 11“There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” That was the view of Cllr Gaz O’Neill at yesterday’s Full Council meeting, where members voted unanimously not to sanction spending on the proposed £4m ‘Smart Islands’ project, being run in collaboration with Japanese multinational company Hitachi.

Councillors said they wanted the item removed from the budget and would review the decision later this year, once they’d received the information they’ve been promised on the scheme.

They had been asked to approve the Capital Programme, which outlines spending on major projects over the next five years.

It showed the Council is considering spending £750,000 in the upcoming financial year on the project, which includes a vehicle hiring, sharing and scrappage scheme and electric vehicle charging points.

This would be followed by £2.25m in 2017/18 and £1m the following year, which the report said would be funded from grants.

But Cllr Fran Grottick revealed that an email sent last week to all councillors by Senior Development Officer Diana Mompoloki had suggested the Council could have to fund up to 20% of the work.

That was £800,000 on a £4m project, said Fran. “Where do we find that from?”

And even if the project could get all the funding from grants, Cllr Grottick was concerned there could be other costs for the Council.

She had checked her figures and discovered that £111,000 had been spent by the Economic Development team just to get to the point of applying for grants for the Porthmellon Innovation Centre, which, she said, “is largely untenanted.”

Fran said it was “not just question of money but officer time and officer focus.”

She said she’d prefer that time spent researching the Smart Islands project and its potential benefits in the future, is spent “trying to support the community and businesses that are here now.”

That worry was echoed by Cllr Gaz O’Neill.

He said grant funding was “never the end of story“ and “there’s no such thing as a free lunch – someone has to pay for it.”

Gaz says he was not against the concept of the Smart Islands project, but in the current economic environment it was “a luxury we can’t afford.”

“We can’t be looking at cutting front line services while funding, potentially, 20% of a massive project that the majority of the public see as totally unnecessary,” said Gaz.

Cllr Colin Daly likened the approach to that of the Sports Hall.

“Even if we get a 100% grant, that’s not the end of the story,” said Colin.

He said the Carn Gwaval facility was “a free gift” but had turned into a huge drain on the Council’s revenue.

Councillors also had concerns that any budget decision made at the Full Council could come back to bite them in the future.

The Chief Executive Theo Leijser told them that the capital programme is, “only indicative” and that any projects will still need to go to the relevant committee for approval.

But Cllr O’Neill wasn’t convinced.

Gaz said he wanted an assurance that if it was approved, they wouldn’t be told in the future that this had, “already been fully supported and endorsed by Full Council.”

“We would be presented with it in a fashion that it was a fait accompli,” said Gaz.

But councillors also felt they couldn’t make any decision on the scheme without having more information.

Fran said members had been promised a workshop on the project, but she had only received confirmation of that the day before the meeting.

And she said she had spoken to councillors on the TEDI Committee, under which this project falls, but there “was not a single member who could say much about the Smart Island project.”

Council Vice Chairman Steve Sims said that wasn’t the case and she hadn’t come to him to talk about the details.

Steve also said the Council had “no capital liability” with all the money coming from the Local Enterprise Partnership or project partners.

However, the TEDI Vice Chairman Ted Moulson disputed this, saying Steve “couldn’t announce we are going to get 100% funding for it.”

Cllr Moulson said the project could bring “great benefits in economics, society and infrastructure” to the islands but if they couldn’t get all the costs covered “we cannot afford it – it’s as simple as that.”

Ted also attacked the Council’s economic development strategy.

He said the islands generate more than 90% of their income through the visitor economy yet there, “is a perception in the public that the Council is anti tourism and not developing the industry to a sufficient degree.”

He felt funds should be, “directed to supporting the current community and businesses we have now.”

Cllr James Francis went further.

He said the Council had, “lost sight of the community’s perception of the way we operate” and that islanders were far more concerned about the provision of transport, and other “far more important” issues surrounding the economy of the islands.

But Council Chairman Amanda Martin disagreed. She said those who “have kept abreast of this know there are good reasons to support it.”

Amanda was surprised at some members’ lack of knowledge of the approach, saying it had come from a Planning Strategy paper, written when Cllr Gordon Bilsborough chaired that committee nine years ago in 2007.

And she implied that the Council’s independent status could depend on the project.

She said there was a “need to fit in with government wishes on this because we are going to them to ask for support on the longevity of our unitary authority.”

But Cllr Marian Bennett was worried by this.

She said, “I find the claim this morning that if we don’t go with the Smart Island project, we might end up having our unitary authority status removed by government, sort of a bit threatening,” although Amanda replied that was not what she actually said.

In the end, councillors voted to remove the Smart Islands project from the capital programme until they had more information on the scheme.



25 Responses to Councillors Say They Won’t Approve £4m Hitachi ‘Smart Islands’ Project Until They Have More Information

  1. Adrian March 14, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    Don–You are quite right in that climate change should be taken into consideration but that is a huge and complex problem.which has been around since before man came on the scene.. Surely our LA should be working primarily for the immediate benefit of this community which means careful budget management in these stringent times.and concentrate on the welfare of all (including the more vulnerable amongst us.)

    Some thought and ACTIONS HAVE BEEN TAKEN with climate change in mind,.
    I am thinking here , for example,of the Health Centre which was designed from the outset to be as ‘green’ as possible and the formation of ISREC which floundered through no fault of it’s own..

    As a village sized community I think we should establish a safe financial position, pay for what we have obtained,, sort out the problems that already exist .
    , and ONLY then embark on another grand scheme the eventual benefits of which are at present dubious.
    Meanwhile how about taking a much safer path by supporting small local measurable schemes, as mentioned above, and leaving GLOBAL problems to those that have ‘clout’?

    • Don March 14, 2016 at 1:39 pm

      So on one hand you say it’s something we should take into consideration, but in the same breath you say it’s not our job to help. It is.

      Define ‘the immediate benefit of this community’? You mean we should lurch from crisis to crisis, with no future planning. No thanks.

      If the best thing for the most vulnerable people in the community is to be cared for on the mainland, then that’s what should happen. Even the adult social care manager said it was silly, and I’d like to hear the GP’s views on their preference.

      Have you monitored the ‘green’ credentials of the health centre? It’s one thing to design something in from the outset, it’s quite another to see it still working almost 20 years later! Technology has moved on quite a bit!

      I think BECAUSE we are a village-sized community, we should speculate for the future, not let the future happen to us. We are in no safe financial position, what would happen if the authority was sued, or a large incident occurred that required financial action from the authority? The council basically has a fiver in its back pocket for the next 12 months, and you believe that to be a ‘safe financial position’? Come on.

      I also find it amusing that councillors turned the project down pending ‘more information’, and yet the very same councillors rejected the airport fees despite having hard evidence of a failing airport in front of them… 🙂

      I’m looking forward to their next performance in May, the cast may be dwindling in numbers but their productions are pure fantasy brilliance. 9/10 (Evening Standard)

  2. Don March 14, 2016 at 9:38 am

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/mar/14/february-breaks-global-temperature-records-by-shocking-amount

    February temperatures break records.

    i think it’s about time we started taking global warming seriously, and the direct threat to the Scillies as a result of our low-lying community.

    We need to start acting responsibly, regardless of the financial burden that may or may not befall us. The only use for money will be if it can float and be used to build liferafts in 50 years.

    • Madana March 15, 2016 at 8:05 am

      Surely we have done quite a bit Don, no paraffin burning helicopter lots of no flying days, quite an uptake in solar energy etc. This is of course offset by our low lieing leaders leaving our waste out in the open to produce copious amounts of stinking methane, which is a much more effective greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

  3. The Floundering Dutchman March 10, 2016 at 8:52 am

    Gobsmacked wrote
    “You mean a capital programme actually exists? That suggests structure and foresight which have been conspicuous by their absence for some time, are you sure the programme isn’t some ancient relic of former days that is pinned on the back of the finance departments bathroom door?”

    Dear Gobsmacked. Having a capital programme is just numbers on a bit of paper. It is meaningless because Councillors have no real financial information within these budgets now and some of the figures don’t add up. With this council it is akin to a 6 year-old’s Christmas list You would not have had that when Barry was in charge of the purse strings and then there was, lets just say, a different type of Chairman. I know that government is watching this council like a hawk. Soon they will swoop and put it out of its misery. The current shower is handing them the strongest case for merging this authority with a grown-up and competent council.

  4. Adam Morton, St.Martins March 10, 2016 at 7:56 am

    Well I thought it was good to see the councillors at least asking some questions even if only lip service. I don’t think anyone could argue that becoming more energy self sufficient would not be good ,but in the right order of priority otherwise we would see some half baked council scheme that failed to deliver its goals. Something like a fleet of electric vehicles being charged on the grid and actually using more energy generated at say hinkley point rather than less. Perhaps creating a couple of jobs for which no one over here was qualified and so having to import engineers and then “oh dear” where are they going to live? I know let’s use some more grant money to build some social housing for them! So far it would seem we benefit by about 1-2% of the value of these projects in some St.Mary’s B&Bs, a couple of pubs and half a dozen locals getting some reasonable wages, as soon as the construction companies leave there is little lasting effect.
    We want actual projected improvements from this, not figures plucked from the air and suppositions of some kind of latent benefits we are going to receive by osmosis from being in proximity!
    I think everyone has worries over the future of tourism but without it , half the stuff people take for granted wont be here specifically any form of transport because the local population wont be big enough to support it. All there will be is a few seats on the Gry ! You wont be able to pop down the road for a pint or go out to dinner because there wont be anywhere. Most of our builders ,electricians etc will leave because no one will have the money to employ them. For all its evils , the tourist industry evolved from a lack of viable options. You cant just wake up one day and swap over to something else, at the least it should be afforded the same chances as the new ideas of unproven track record.
    So far we have seen little to suggest that the Council is interested in the wider community outside its own doors, are we to believe this has changed ? Especially since its previous projects are tenantless .
    As I understand it ,we can’t have much power generation until the grid is upgraded and that is up to western power- has the Council even asked what their plans are? Ok solar panels are good in summer but down to a third capacity in winter when we need it. Oh yes there’s plenty of wind but HRH doesn’t like turbines and neither does the “i’m alright jack” population. Tidal power requires massive investment and a large scale to make all the heavy lifting & service equipment viable , this won’t sit well with the mczs or fishing industry and in any case would see all the rewards outsourced from the islands. Why doesn’t the council lead by example and install panels over its new refuse site building at moorwell to offset the carbon from transporting to the mainland? Or as someone else suggested, incorporate them in the airport? Actually look to save us money in the future!Why couldn’t they have incorporated a town sewerage treatment plant under a meaningful access road to the back of the quay? Lets see some presence of forethought going into these projects before wasting all our money they supposedly haven’t got for spending on necessary services.

  5. Carol March 9, 2016 at 9:28 pm

    Smart Island projects are nothing new. Different companies offer different smart technology to islands all around the globe. Some Scottish Isles produce electric through wind power, not wave power. Local land owners have received grants to erect wind turbines and the power feeds into the grid. Wave power is still experimental, look up the wave turbine project situated off Hayle sands. If the strategic development people were wedded to such technology then why did’t the airport build use smart technology to generate power? Perfectly positioned and would save thosands of pounds on heating up the universe through an appalling constructed building.

  6. frangrottick March 9, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Dear Ron,
    You are, of course, entitled to your opinion.
    Please note that , at present, there are several vacant seats on the Council should you wish to engage further in the debate.
    However, sadly, you cannot stand if you work for the Authority,
    Regards Fran

    • Don March 10, 2016 at 8:59 am

      Or the school! So many educated, very bright people not able to shape the community they live in!

      Good points made by Adam.

      Tourism is a 6 month trade model, you need to think about the other six months of the year.

      I’d like to see real public events held to better describe the benefits of this, because the current perception of golf buggies is not doing it justice!

      Love Don

  7. Mandy H March 9, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    Well done councillor Grottick. As you say, it is not about the decisions or the projects specifically, it is about following the proper laid out process and having good quality information before coming to any decision. Standing orders and financial regs are there to protect both councillors and officers, they need to read them and follow them. Time and again the ‘professional and well paid experts’ who should be option appraising and advising councillors are skimming over the detail and rail roading their half baked ideas. All they need to do is do their jobs properly, if they know how! I for one am glad you are scrutinising reports and asking questions in these times of tight finances where every penny counts. Thank you, you would make a fine chairman.

  8. Gordon Bilsborough March 9, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    Councillor Amanda Martin was quite right saying that the original proposals had come from a Planning Strategy paper presented when I chaired the Planning Committee in 2007. However, I cannot recall any wild cheering and enthusiastic celebrations greeting these proposals. In any case, seven of the thirteen councillors present at the recent meeting had not been even elected in 2007. For the record, I agreed with the majority view to remove the scheme from the capital programme until more detailed information becomes available.

    • Gobsmacked March 10, 2016 at 12:50 am

      You mean a capital programme actually exists? That suggests structure and foresight which have been conspicuous by their absence for some time, are you sure the programme isn’t some ancient relic of former days that is pinned on the back of the finance departments bathroom door?

  9. Di Do "Ron" "Ron" March 9, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    If “Ron” isn’t a person closely involved with this unpopular and unwanted Hitachi Smart Island junket, I will go to Terry’s shop, buy a hat and eat it. Why would anyone defend this flight of fancy in the face of the rejection by Councillors? Oh. Maybe, someone who had a vested interest in it or whose job was dependant on it. Yes, they would write paragraphs supporting the experiment.
    I’m 67. I am not too old to understand and value technology and I am in good health. I have no vested interest in Park House but I cannot comprehend why a public servant would still propose this concept, which is all it is, instead of concentrating efforts on social services.
    Elder care, not electric buggies please. You’re a Council. Not Dragons’ Den.
    Get on with your job. If Hitachi really think the project is worthwhile let them do it. They have deep pockets and will reap the rewards. The Council does not.

  10. Jenny March 9, 2016 at 5:08 pm

    £800,000 on a project without any previous track report of success. £800,000 would go a long way to ensure the Park House building is more than fit for purpose, or pay towards a new care facility. £800,000 would go along way to ensure the most vulnerable in our community are not sent to the mainland because the Island’s are unable to afford their care. No doubt those who raise objection to the proposed Smart Island project will be called Luddites, accused of lacking forward thinking or vision and stuck in the old ways.
    Forward thinking is recognizing the need to support and care for our elderly with dignity, in preference to spending £800,000 on a concept.

  11. frangrottick March 9, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    Dear Ron,
    I thought you might like a response and an explanation of my views if you did not attend the meeting.
    There may be merit in some of the Smart Islands project, but I did not have enough information to make an informed decision.I am mindful that it is public money we are looking after, not our own. I was also very concerned that, at a time of great budget pressure, when we were discussing service cuts, we should be thinking of a project that might cost another large sum.
    We should not be afraid of progress and innovation but we need to solve some very important problems first.
    Regards Fran 422424

    • Ron March 9, 2016 at 4:59 pm

      Cllr Grottick,

      If you are mindful that it is public money you are looking after:

      – Why vote to refer the airport fees back to committee? The sums are straightfoward, it’s a paper exercise, not a political decision. Something costs ‘x’ amount, so you need to raise ‘x’, based on recent forecasts. You can’t just make up your own forecast to suit your agenda. Very poor use of public money, 1/10.

      – Youre adult social care manager told you his opinion of the financial unviability in continuing residential care on the islands, and yet again councillors ignore it and will seek to keep it on the islands, at the costs of taxpayers. It’s emotive, but it’s maths. Very poor use of public money, 1/10.

      – Weslyan chapel is empty 95% of the time, very poor use of public money.

      – £120k spent per year on member allowances according to my calculations? Very poor use of public money.

      The airport over-ran, the quays over-ran, the route partnership project collapsed, we didn’t save for a runway, we can’t afford our own waste, we can’t afford our own sewerage and water infrastructure repairs, we can’t afford the most basic of things. The list of ‘known’ problems is huge, utterly massive. Unaffordable. All of this under a booming tourist trade in the 1990’s and 2000’s. Hmmm, Cllr Grottick. It seems that tourism doesn’t solve ANY public funding issues we have had. Does this not indicate to you that tourism is not the knight in shining armour? All it does it take, take, take, from the community.

      I think councillors have very little economic nous about them, and that has been shown over the years across a spectrum of failures. I fully expect you to fail this test also, and completely disregard the unique opportunity lying at your feet.

      This is Hitachi. No, it’s Apple, it’s Microsoft, it’s Tesla, it’s Panasonic, it’s a technology powerhouse wanting to join up with the islands, and you want to ignore it? The ‘knowns’ around a potential financial risk are miniscule compared to the potential ‘unknown’ of the economic benefits to the islands for decades, or even hundreds of years to come. By the time comes to pay the 20% gap, the picture for the Authority could be very different. When we get there, IF we get there, that money won’t be the straw that breaks the Authority’s back, it will be the combined load of the umpteen other financial alarm bells that have been ringing for years.

      The Scottish Islands only survive because of their importance in access to energy sites. Scilly has more sun hours per year than any other place in the UK, has higher winds, massive sea-swells, our potential to generate renewable energy is quite frankly staggering. To ignore that would be a dereliction of duty as elected officials, on multiple levels.

      You don’t sit as representatives of the tourism industry. At least, you shouldn’t. You represent every man, woman and child, including those unborn, and your decisions should be in the common interests of all, and not just the priveleged few who own tourism establishments.

      I don’t think Scilly should feel under threat by government, but it should be aware that to undertake the project would curry massive favour with Whitehall.

      Conversely, incredibly, tourism providers might find they can run their businesses cheaper, and to a higher quality, with new technology and energy solutions. Everyone can benefit.

      Personally I have no vested interest in smart islands technology, i am but an island resident. But I do see trends, and I do see opportunities for the community, and this is an absolutely massive one, perhaps never before seen.

      Hitachi will have some of the best researchers, best energy analysts, best environmental studies, best access to communications and technology, best of everything, some of the leading people in the world will be working with a company like Hitachi. To presume that the islands would not benefit massively from co-working with them is utterly incomprehendable.

      On a plate. Take the win.

      Don’t regret something that you didn’t do. You will never know the potential of this unless you try, whereas the drawbacks can be imminently manageable through the way contracts are written.

      • Novello March 9, 2016 at 5:24 pm

        Unfortunately Ron, the council officers’ past history is what is causing the problem here. it may be a fantastic opportunity, but the Economic Development department has such a poor reputation on these islands that no-one trusts them to run a multimillion pound project any more.

        We’ve seen cost overruns, buildings that aren’t needed, others built to poor quality, works overrunning into the busy tourist season and an arrogance and indifference from the people running those projects to our thoughts and feelings.

        Perhaps this is what the chief executive means when he talks about the biggest risk to the council being the lack of good staff.

        • saltsolution March 9, 2016 at 5:38 pm

          Very well put Novello.

      • Ewart Less March 9, 2016 at 6:19 pm

        Gosh you’ve had a busy day.
        Like many other residents I have had enough of these single buttock projects.
        The Council’s own track record is its Achilles heel. Our Chairman can’t add up and doesn’t know what to do for the best; she cannot get rid of another CEO or he would be gone already. Trust in the authority is at an all time low. The very last thing the Islands need is another reckless out of control adventure.
        Focus on what needs to be done, old folks, sewerage improvements, credible waste disposal, a finance department fit for purpose as some pointers

  12. Jenny March 9, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    Why is it assumed that the Smart Island’s Project would generate lots of highly paid jobs which are not within the tourist industry. Smart Technology is about less reliance on people doing the work. Technology has transformed billions of lives, but history shows it has not been a highly paid job creator. Thank you Councillors, for pulling in the reigns on an unproven project and please ask the Officers to focus on the essential infrastructure of these islands and then look to the blue sky or is green field projects.

  13. Local Worker March 9, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    Well done Councillors, as Diana Mompoloki seems so good at organising funding for projects why dont she and the Ceo try to arrange money to get another Helicopter service up and running.There are hundreds of holiday makers who have stopped coming over here because they do not like flying in small planes,also the flight in a helicopter was part of the holiday. Having spoken to many visitors over the last couple of years, many do not have a lot of faith in Skybus especially from Lands End as it is so effected by the weather even in the summer. Speaking as a local the lack of the helicopter service might have effected the Health of many Islanders as many have had to cancel 5 or 6 appointments to Hospitals on the mainland due to no flying, likewise Doctors , Physios and other consultants coming over to us also people with certain mobility problems are not catered for very well on Skybus. Take today for instance,strong winds and we are told No flying yet I think there have been 4 or 5 Islanders in ,so whats going on. Before someone says otherwise ,Helicopters can fly in much worse weather than small fixed wing planes, I know because I have been on some bad flights due to headwinds, one flight from Penzance took 45 minutes to reach Scilly ,the return flight only 12 minutes. So if Diana Mompoloki and the CEO of the Council want to be remembered for doing something positive for the Islands and not for having yet another hair brained scheme,please please please consider something which certainly would benefit the Islands. For those who dont know and just for interest BIH is still operational out of Newquay for charter, Helicopter FJ is still flying if anybody wants to charter it. I wonder if that is why the ISSCo registered all those Business names last year

  14. FORGET NODDY CARS SAVE TOURISM AND PARK HOUSE March 9, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    Well done to most of the Councillors. Finally you are representing the people who put you there. Hitachi should get the message. Your type of project is not wanted here. Please go. Bye-tachi. And take the people who are constantly trying to ruin Scilly with you.

    We have the most beautiful place in the world. Our Council should support tourism. Not dismiss it or try to remove themselves from it at every move. Tourism is what we have, our greatest asset. Forget these mad ideas which are just followed to keep the bloated town hall head count high. It is not for us. How many times do have to say to these people THERE IS ONLY ONE SCILLY DONT CHANGE IT.

    The democratically elected Councillors made that clear but even so I was perplexed to see that there was a Smart Islands seminar at the Porthmellon “Innovation” Centre with Diana Mompoolki today. Another white elephant. The Smart Islands scheme.

    How can people be told more about that pipedream when Councillors have made their views clear about it? The Councillor now they have shown some teeth need to insist that the paid staff do nothing but work on community priorities 1- PARK HOUSE and then in equal importance TOURISM, WASTE, TRANSPORT. No more time and money need go on noddy cars. Sorry Diana Mompoolki. To use a metaphor you will appreciate it is time to pull the plug on your project.

  15. Ron March 9, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    I don’t think that opportunities to work with a huge organisation like Hitachi come around often, perhaps once in a lifetime. Don’t let one of the last things you do as a Councillor be to turn down the opportunity to secure an exciting future for the islands.

    Why should the Officers try to ‘support’ the businesses here now when they’re almost all involved in tourism? Am I reading that right?

    Do Councillors Moulson, Francis, ONeill, Hicks, Peacock, Nelhams, think it’s morally right to vote against raising airport charges, and to prioritise tourism, when they all have MASSIVE financial interests in tourism? A line was crossed yesterday.

    I don’t expect any of them to read this article or respond to this story, which is damning.

    Hands up if you think tourism is the best thing for the islands? All of you? Ok. Think about the repercussions of tourism on the islands, and who pays for it. So, healthcare, social care, waste, housing, sewerage…all these things get increased pressure put on them by more workers in the tourism sector, especially those that look to live on Scilly long-term.

    How many tourism providers give maternity pay? Or a pension? Or work between October and April? Do you not think that an average worker on Scilly deserves more than £250 a week and a bonus at the end of the year, and a bedsit to live in? In other regions, this standard of living is known as ‘poverty’…

    So, tourism, for the most part, employees hundreds of people each year on Scilly on effectively zero hours contracts, and pays low wages.

    Tell me, in your opinion, how and why a Local Authority should try to ‘help’ that industry continue? It puts no money into public services, so the Local Authority and the NHS suffer.

    Look at the hierarchy of earning at a hotel on Scilly. They employ a manager, and they get to live in a small house or flat. They earn a decent wage I understand, and the role is designed for a person to live here full-time. So they bring their family. More kids in school, more healthcare pressure. Now what about the 20 or so workers under that manager? How much do they earn? Conservative estimate, £250 to £300 per week for the most part, with chefs probably earning around £400+ a week. They get put up in something akin to a student house, with multiple occupancy under one roof, sharing facilities, it’s a single persons paradise, or a couple at a stretch. And for the most part, the work is between March and October only. None of this sounds aspirational for a local child, to me. I don’t see children of the rich families doing these jobs past the age of 18.

    Now, more and more people working in that trade are from overseas, and more and more of them go back ‘home’ for the winter, having saved all their money up. The tourism trade puts a scant amount of money in the pockets of workers, and many workers don’t even reinvest that money in the local economy, they save it and spend it off the islands. Economic fail.

    And those that DO spend their money perhaps might go to the pub once or twice a week. And the money pays the minimum wage for a barman, again, probably not local., and the rest goes to St Austell Brewery, on the mainland. How much capital investment have YOU seen in the Atlantic, or the Bishop in recent years? Mermaid no different, owned by Punch Taverns.

    At what point do you turn around and say,as an economic model for prosperity in a small island community, that tourism is an excellent idea? Where is this fabled ‘money’ going from tourism? I see Dorrien-Smith sat in a castle (or in a council meeting trying to get fees reduced for the IOSSCO), employing a handful of skilled people for big money, and housing them in one of his many houses, and I see another hundred or so living like students. None of them can afford to buy a house there, even if they saved for 500 years. That’s not a career, that’s like working in a sweat-shop. Tell me the difference?

    Same story here on St Marys. How many people that have worked in the tourist trade from the bottom rung, have gone on to own a house on Scilly? When did ownership of a house on Scilly become the sole domain of the wealthy? What happened to ordinary people being able to get an ordinary house, and raise a family where they live and work? Why is that unrealistic now? This is poverty, right here, right now, and it’s caused by an over-reliance on tourism.

    I see the money generated by tourism, I see it getting sucked over to St Austell, to the IOSSCo shareholders, and to the owners of the larger businesses on the islands, particularly St Marys, and I see hard cash disappear into the pockets of the boatmen…

    Outside of a group of about 200 people, I see people living in borderline poverty on Scilly. And this is the direct result of tourism. And I see failing public services.

    All that will happen by helping tourism is that those same 200 people get even more wealthy, the other 500-1000 get poorer, and the pressure on public services increases further, which means fee rises for EVERYONE.

    Adam, I understand that times have been hard on St Martins. I get that, but you’re St Martins, not St Mary’s. The only viable islands for tourism are St Marys and Tresco, for very different reasons, and surely you can see that. Look at tourism on Bryher and St Agnes…it’s chalk and cheese between them and Tresco.

    It’s essential, absolutely essential, that a new economic model has to be put in place. And I don’t mean we need to get rid of tourism, at all. It has it’s place, of course. But in no way should the Council ‘support’ tourism over and above something like investment in sustainable energy or smart islands. For the council to ‘invest’ in tourism would be like asking the council to use ALL taxpayers money to help 10% of the people on Scilly get richer.

    There’s absolutely no reason at all to think that the two things cannot co-exist. If anything, such investment could help tourism, in so many ways you can’t even begin to imagine.

    This isn’t even conjecture, the next time you go to the pub, or to a restaurant, ask the barman, or waiter, or KP, or chef, or receptionist, or chambermaid how much they earn per year, and where they live. Scratch deeper than the surface where they smile and wear nice uniforms and find out the true cost of tourism is for Scilly.

    • Monsieur Droit March 9, 2016 at 3:16 pm

      Are you a relative of Kevin by any chance? I think you also need a reality check, what technically advanced business would seek to set up 28 miles out in the Atlantic when the costs, ease of access to markets and any customer base is immediately constrained?
      The schemes progressed at great (and without exception excess) cost by this council have imported labour and sent most of the funding back to the mainland. The Islands significant assets are its beauty, climate and picturesque location, nobody is going to set up a high tech factory here we must make the most of what we have to offer. There is plenty of potential left in tourism for those with drive and ambition who choose to graft.

  16. saltsolution March 9, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    Well done Councillors. Thank you.