Sunday, 17 June 2018

PETITION FOR A HELICOPTER SERVICE BETWEEN PENZANCE AND THE ISLES OF SCILLY
has now reached 11662 signatures! 

Add  yours!

Samantha Mallon

A petition has been launched to help make the Isles of Scilly helicopter service a reality.

Alongside the overwhelming show of support for this project since the announcement of the Judicial Review, people have been asking how they can help ensure this project becomes a reality.

An island resident has now set up a petition, calling for the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group to withdraw their Judicial Review into the Penzance Heliport project.

The wording of the petition is:

We, the residents, visitors and friends of the Isles of Scilly, object to the actions of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group in seeking to deny us a helicopter service from Penzance.
Penzance is the only logical site as it suffers less from low cloud and fog than Land’s End, is close to transport links and has existing tourist facilities.
We demand that the Directors of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group put islanders first and cease their attempts to prevent a new helicopter service from Penzance.

The Judicial Review can be rejected if the judge does not believe there is a justifiable case. This petition will demonstrate that islanders, visitors and friends of the Isles of Scilly need this additional lifeline.

We would urge everyone who supports the reintroduction of this vital service to please make your feelings known. Signing takes less than one minute and will make a difference.
 
To sign the petition go to

FRIST makes further Penzance Heliport Submission


 15th June 2018
Planning Application PA/16/09346

Further submission by the Friends of the Isles of Scilly Transport (FRIST).
Without repeating the points we made in our submission to Cornwall Council’s Strategic Planning Committee on 8 January last year, FRIST would like to emphasise the following:

Improvements to Cornwall’s transport links are key to strengthening the economy of the county and the islands.  One of Cornwall Council’s strategies for ensuring the growth and prosperity of both Cornwall and Scilly is to develop a transport system which connects “people, businesses and services in a way that is reliable, efficient, safe, inclusive and enjoyable.”  It remains difficult to identify another project which so aptly fulfils these criteria.  The proposed heliport service not only enhances connectivity between people, businesses and services but also makes the route more reliable, certainly increases efficiency for people travelling on business and, particularly according to the hundreds of representations, provides the most enjoyable mode of transport for many people.

FRIST’s aspiration since its inception in 2011 has been to strive for “an affordable, reliable all-year transport link between Scilly and the mainland”.  The failure to operate resilient transport on 29% days affected by poor visibility and the frequent resulting need for unexpected overnight accommodation can make the process of travel quite unaffordable.  So FRIST is now placing more importance on the need for transport to be more resilient in recognition that serious unreliability outweighs affordability as a criterion.  Also, in the absence of an all-year passenger ferry service, the proposed helicopter service at least in part fulfils our requirement for an all-year service.

Additional points we make are:

-    The Penzance heliport site offers the benefit of public transport only 70m away, going east or west, particularly useful for the nearby rail station.

-       The built site itself is modest in size, but compatible with other small industrial/commercial buildings in the close vicinity.

-       Regular users of the former helicopter service recall the frequent sight of a cap of low cloud sitting precisely echoing the contours of the cliffs so that the beaches could still be in sunshine while the higher land (such as Land’s End airport at St. Just) was shrouded in cloud.  There is no doubt that the Penzance site is superior in terms of performance in poor visibility to other sites at higher altitudes.

The following groups of stakeholders are those most directly affected by Penzance Heliport and its helicopter service:
The people of Cornwall.  Tourism continues to be the principal source of income for the county and islands.  It is imperative that the services provided for our visitors (and residents) are of the highest possible quality, and with best ease of access.   It should be recognised that a helicopter service is a major attraction in its own right – representing an exciting and enjoyable experience, and the former heliport in the same location is a facility which has been keenly missed for the past six years by visitors to the area. 

The people of Gulval. The former helicopter service from the neighbouring heliport did not attract these complaints from the residents of Gulval.  The modern helicopter proposed is significantly quieter than the previous ones (S61) proposed. When the Penzance heliport proposal was announced, it was apparently difficult to find anyone in the village to comment to BBC television, other than to be supportive.  Like the former Penzance heliport, the access flight route is almost entirely over the sea and landing in an existing utility rather than residential area, an area dominated by the railway and road network. 
The people of Penzance.  Penzance residents generally have been overwhelmingly supportive of the heliport proposal, probably in recognition of the past damage that the Department for Transport’s rejection of the Route Partnership scheme and the demise of the previous helicopter service did to the economic communities of Penzance and Scilly.  Many in Penzance greatly resented the loss of the heliport in Penzance and the jobs it offered.  Developments like the new train care centre, the retail centre and the Longrock bus centre do not compensate for the heliport which had been a special prestige feature of the area for 48 years. There is an interdependence between both communities but while Penzance’s tourism economy has flourished during the recent past, the same cannot be said for Scilly.  The reason for the decline in the islands’ visitor numbers must be mainly due to transport difficulties and, while cost is a major factor, ease of travel is also of great significance.  Many air passengers find the final leg of an already long journey, by winding road to Land’s End, the ‘final straw’. 

The people of Scilly.  The islanders are the people most affected by this planning application although the building is not directly on their ‘turf’. The image often painted of Scilly is one of affluence  and alternative lifestyle but this is entirely wrong for people living here. While Scilly is a special place, the majority of islanders are ordinary working people who strive to make a living.  The need to travel applies as much to islanders as it does to anyone on the mainland.  Most people would protest if all their choices of transport were removed – imagine no road, rail or air services!   This is what happens much of the time during the winter in Scilly, at times without transport at all.  Life on Scilly can quickly become marginal for older people and future viability depends on getting on or off the islands. While cost is very important, improved reliability, such as that offered by Penzance Heliport and particularly during the winter months when there is no ferry service, has now attained priority status.  Increased certainty of being able to travel with good flying records at both Penzance and Tresco heliports will alleviate the anxiety of failing to keep mainland appointments and reduce the likelihood of booking extra overnight accommodation and onward travel.
Passengers. Visitors are the lifeblood of Scilly.  Its natural beauty is our main resource and it behoves us to provide the most attractive and enjoyable facilities and services we can possibly achieve.  There is no doubt that Penzance is the appropriate location for a terminal for the new helicopter service as the principal component of an excellent, integrated, and efficient transport link between the islands and the mainland.

Marian Berkeley, FRIST Co-ordiator 07770 341302, berkeleymarian@gmail.com

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Cllr. Berkeley: Council 'lacks guts to stand up to ISSG'

Cllr Marian Berkeley has accused Members of lacking "guts" in their dealings with the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group. The comments followed the decision at last night's Council meeting to send a letter of support to Cornwall Council over the proposed new air link from Penzance.

After the proposal was agreed, Cllr Berkeley said: "Following the fiasco over last weekend, I find it difficult to sit in a Full Council meeting and not make representations about it".

Full article at This is Scilly News here.


Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Isles of Scilly Transport Board in need of Restructuring/Overhaul

FRIST has pressed for the restoration of the Isles of Scilly Transport Board and that is now happening although the initial agenda items have been based more on the current situation than the Board’s constitution. It is hoped however that the membership of this strategic Board will not continue to be comprised only of ‘cheque book holders’ i.e. transport operators, but include representation of passengers and transport users.

 Our recommendation to the Isles of Scilly Council, which previously instituted the Board, was the following:


 “The Board would comprise two parts:

 1. Strategic Board.

Membership:


  • Chair – IOS Council Chair
  • Members: IOS Council: Chair, Chief Executive and Lead Member for Place.
  • Cornwall Council: Lead member for Transport and Head of Transport (Officer)
  • Representative of Business (Islands' Partnership) (excluding transport operators).
  • Representative of transport users.
  • Mayor of Penzance or other Penzance Town Council Representative.
  • Duchy of Cornwall.
  • Tresco Estates.


Board not to include non-executives, but if so, there must be a transparent means of selection.

Our MP to be invited when appropriate.

Purpose: to determine strategy, to apply for funds, to liaise with Government, to commission studies.

 2. Operations Board (reporting to the Strategic Board)
Membership:


  • Chair – CEO of IOS Council
  • A representative from each transport operator, including
  • IOSSG and Tresco helicopter operators.
  • Inter-island boating representatives, one for St. Mary's, one for off-islands.
  • Harbour masters (local and mainland).
  • St. Mary's hauliers.
  • Mainland passenger transport representatives (rail, road).
  • Mainland freight transporters.


Purpose: To consider operational matters in relation to transport between the IOS and mainland; to address customer service issues, both passenger and freight.”

Monday, 4 June 2018

IOSSG Chairman's statement from last Report and Accounts and a more accurate version?

Statement by IOSSG Chairman Andrew May from the last set of statutory accounts (Year to 31 Mar 17,  page 2,  6th para) .

Highlighted in last year's statement was the degree of importance the Board attaches to a number of vital elements of our scheduled services specifically; resilience, reliability, affordability and accessibility. To this list the Board has added the issue of capacity. We recognise that, within the bounds defined by the nature of the Islands' relatively niche market, the Steamship Company must strive to have seats available for all who would wish to occupy them on our ships and aeroplanes, on the day and indeed at the time of day that they wish to travel. These issues have been brought into sharp focus by the recent public debate around the proposal to introduce a helicopter services between Cornwall and the Islands and, separately, the proposal for a new heliport at Penzance.


Perhaps a more accurate version would read…

‘Vital elements of our scheduled services are resilience, reliability, affordability and accessibility and we have failed on all of them. Resilience and reliability of the air services are no better with the helicopter and, with 29% of flying days having faced disruption last winter, the Scillonian appears to be getting cancelled 48 hours before sailing even if the weather improves thereafter. The nature of the Islands’ relatively niche market is that we can charge what we like – that is affordability for those who can, and the rest can go hang as there is not enough capacity anyway. We need the money anyway to pay for the £4.5m wasted on the Mali Rose and the £2m we are likely to loose on my vanity project, the helicopter. The proposal to introduce our helicopter service and our outright opposition to any competition through a new heliport at Penzance is justified since our stranglehold monopoly hold on transport is clearly threatened.

We are sure that our loyal customers will prefer our own helicopter service, if and when it is given all the necessary permissions to fly as a scheduled service, and enjoy the delights of that winding road journey from Penzance and the long hours or days at our own Lands End airport in the knowledge that fog affects fixed wing and helicopters equally. How could they possibly change to a competing service from a brand new heliport in Penzance, much less affected by fog and convenient for onward transport, assuming that we have not been able to prevent its construction by adopting the aggressive planning techniques so well known to supermarkets determined to preserve their monopolies in a particular area!


You can download the full  IOSSG statutory accounts at Companies House here  .