Monday, 28 April 2014

Transport Working Groups will decide Scilly response to Minister

Scilly Today reported on 25th April announcements from the IOS Council (at the public meeting on 16 Apr) about how it was going determine what transport improvements it was going to seek from Baroness Kramer.  This followed Baroness Kramer's comment to the HofC Transport Committee in March that islanders had 'no coherent plan'. 

The article reports the new Chief Executive explaining that a series of private meetings will be held to achieve consensus on how islanders want the Government to help improve our transport services. He explained the Authority had set up working groups to decide what to request from Government.  The ‘Transport for Scilly’ body includes the Duchy, Scilly and Cornwall Councils and the Steamship Company. Theo said the representatives are from organisations who “could sign a cheque” or who own transport assets.  A second group made up of Council representatives, Healthwatch, FRIST and the Islands’ Partnership will analyse data and suggest options for transport schemes.

Click here to read the full item and extensive comments.

Read on for FRIST comment on this report.

FRIST's aims are unintentionally mis-represented in the abbreviated comparison of its aims with those of the IOS Council.  The quote was "FRIST is pushing for a year-round subsidised boat. The Council is not – they want money to improve facilities."  FRIST supports improved facilities but recognizes that these do not solve the longstanding transport problems  of inadequate winter transport and sky high prices.  FRIST is well aware that resurfacing of the existing IOS Airport runway (start imminent), a major part of a package of improvements proposed for IOS Airport, is essential for the Airport to continue to operate.

FRIST believes that current transport services (even with "improved resilience") are inadequate to support the well-being of the community (re: desperate problems with delivery of islanders' medical needs in the winter) and the islands' tourism based economy.  Moreover it does not believe that the ferry can be replaced on a purely commercial basis.  FRIST believes solving the problems is impossible without some Government subsidy (like every other comparable island in the UK).  The IOS Council, in its recent statements, appears broadly content with the status quo provided infrastructure improvements in the pipeline are delivered.  The Council has stated recently that it does not support seeking a subsidy/PSO to improve the level of services or reduce their price.

FRIST is agnostic about how 'affordable, reliable all year transport services' are provided but, being realistic, the acute winter transport problem could be significantly eased by a winter ferry service and it is probably the least expensive and most effective option for improving the well-being of islanders - the DfT's first consideration. It would also improve the economics of the ferry route and therefore the commercial case for replacing the ferry.

FRIST would like to think that islanders' interests, and the interests of visitors who are the mainstay of the economy, would prevail over narrower interests in deciding this matter.

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