Sunday, 17 May 2015

Business don't want helicopter service says LEP Chair!

From Scilly Today (15 May). The Chairman of the Local Enterprise Partnership says Scilly’s tourism businesses don’t want the helicopters back because the competition could damage Skybus.

Chris Pomfret chaired the LEP Board meeting on St Mary’s on Tuesday 12 May and afterwards hosted a Scilly business meeting. You can read the full article and the many comments challenging his assertion here.

Comment from FRIST Spokesperson (Marian Bennett)

It was surprising to hear Chris Pomfret, Chairman of the Local Enterprise Partnership, on Radio Scilly saying that none of the local business people he met with this week wanted the helicopter service back. From the significant number of people who have contacted FRIST, including those with tourism businesses, that statement is totally untrue. There is a general recognition that the reintroduction of a rotary service is unlikely for financial reasons, and ‘resilience’ has improved with the hardening of Land’s End runway, particularly for the winter service. BUT helicopters are ideally suited to islands and statements such as the one the LEP Chairman has made are not helpful if we want to see the best possible transport services in the long term. Resilience has improved but it is still not good!

Monday, 1 September 2014

Parliamentary candidates sparring over possible helicopter options.

Scilly Today reports both Andrew George MP and Derek Thomas (Conservative Parliamentary Candidate) now involved in discussions with various parties (including a major retailer!)  over options for a new helicopter service for Scilly. This follows on consultants PWC publishing the results of their feasibility study into the route (study sponsored by Augusta Westland).

Read the Scilly Today items  here (29 Sep) and here (1 Sep).

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Helicopter service discussions to continue.

From The Cornishman online 19 Aug 2014

A meeting is due to take place in Penzance next week to discuss the potential reinstatement of a helicopter service to the Isles of Scilly.

Graham Cole, chairman of the helicopter builders AgustaWestland, will meet other “commercial stakeholders” in a private meeting, said Andrew George.

The west Cornwall MP said he had been asked to facilitate the meeting as he continues to investigate the potential for a new helicopter link.

The meeting follows the completion of a report by consultants Price Waterhouse Coopers, sponsored by Augusta Westland, into the feasibility of resurrecting the service.

Follow the link here for the full item.
Previous news item (18 Aug) with comments here.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Subsidized Scottish ferries- half a century of Government involvement.

The argument that the IOS should get Govt help with transport costs like the Scotland isles is often countered by the assertion that Scottish subsides are the result of the new Scottish Government and that London would never counternance such largess.  In reality the Government in London has been subsiding routes to isolated Scottish islands for half a century.  Read on for the details.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

FRIST press release following Minister's announcement

Press Release 14 Aug 2014

FRIST warmly welcomes the announcement of Government funding towards improvements and extension of St. Mary’s Quay and is pleased that it is to be completed by next March, prior to the visitor season. The proposed dredging at Penzance Harbour is also welcome and it’s hoped that this will enable access at all states of the tide. 

FRIST commends the proposed improvements for passengers at St. Mary’s but regrets that this is not being matched at Penzance where passengers will continue to suffer when it is raining or when spray overtops the harbour wall. Whether “this funding will make a huge difference to the people of Scilly and also to visitors to the island” as stated by Patrick McLoughlin during his visit to Scilly on Wednesday, remains to be seen. Improvements to the infrastructure for air and ferry will certainly help, but the prospect of an affordable, reliable, all year round transport service still remains a target for the future. 

As stated at Wednesday’s press conference, the Secretary of State did not refuse to look at underwriting the service, but wanted to see what difference the new runways at Land’s End airport will make during the coming winter. FRIST believes that the new runways should solve the water-logging problem experienced over the past two winters, and thereby improve reliability, but will not help in fog nor with the issue of affordability. “Infrastructure developments will always help”, said FRIST co-ordinator, Marian Bennett, “but without service improvements and lower fares, transport will remain the biggest challenge facing the economy and welfare of Scilly.” 

Marian Bennett 
FRIST Coordinator/Spokesperson
14 August 2014

Govt. funding for IOS Link harbours announced.

The Secretary of State for Transport , Patrick McLoughlin, has confirmed grant funding of £7.3 million towards the £12.8 million scheme to improve harbour infrastructure at both St Mary’s and Penzance. The remainder of the funding is understood to be coming from the EU (ERDF).

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Lands End Airport re-opens today with hard runway surfaces.

 Everybody will be pleased to hear today that Lands End Runway has re-opened with hard surfaces ready for use.  You can read the Scilly Today item here.

 The IOSSCO has received a lot of 'flak' over the timing of the work but it is unjustified given the circumstances.  The IOSC were in the 'last chance saloon' with regards to getting this work completed with EU funds covering 50% of the costs (IOSSCO is funding the remainder).  The current ERDF tranch expires in 2015 and the new tranche is not earmarked for infrastructure.  The work could not be completed much earlier in the year because Brussells only confirmed that the project complied with 'state aid rules' in May 2014 (it was a UK Govt requirement that IOSC obtained written confirmation in advance of the work starting).  As the IOSC carries the financial risk there was a need to avoid doing this work in the winter because of the extra costs and risks involved.

The IOSC is to be complemented on delivering this proejct and the IOSSCO complemented on investing another £1.3 million in improved infrastructure.  The project does not at a stroke solve the islands' transport problem but it is a very important and welcome improvement.


The delay in the project was not due to high summer temperature but due to the 'formula' used to make the base layer of the runway.  The layer was not sufficiently strong and had to be reworked to meet the necessay specification. 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

FRIST's summer newsletter available

FRIST's summer newsletter was emailed out today to all those signed up for the newsletter - currently 1435 people.  A paper version will be mailed out shortly to those who are registered for paper copies.  We would like to thank generous donors for funding the printing and mailing costs of the paper copies - it allows us to comunication with everybody interested in our work..

You can view the summer newsletter (pdf document) here.