Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Transport Committee Report published - Sympathetic to islanders' plight.

The report of the House of Commons Transport Committee inquiry into passenger transport for isolated communities was published on 22 July 2014.  The report can be downloaded here  .  Page 8 of the report ("Isles of Scilly") is copied below:


Isles of Scilly

8. The Isles of Scilly are an archipelago of five inhabited islands and approximately 140 uninhabited rocky islets located some 30 miles off Land’s End. We heard that Penzance to the Isles of Scilly is arguably the longest stretch of unsubsidised essential travel in England.  We also heard how comparable islands in Scotland are served by ferries which
are subsidised by the Scottish Government.

9.  On 3 March 2014, we took evidence from Cornwall Council, the Council of the Isles ofScilly and Friends of Isles of Scilly Transport. We heard how fares to the Isles of Scilly have dramatically increased in the past two years and how those increases have impacted on visitor numbers.  We also heard how decreased choice and increased fares make it difficult for island residents to access healthcare and other services on the mainland. In response, the Council of the Isles of Scilly told us that “the current operator is commercially viable and, therefore, there has never been a requirement or need to identify subsidies to make it viable.”



10. We identified the need to establish a broad definition of an ‘isolated community’ for use by central and local government (see paragraph 7). People who live on islands need to access public and other services, and they should therefore receive subsidised travel if their island is isolated. In July 2014, the Council of the Isles of Scilly reversed its opposition to subsidised passenger transport and engaged in discussions with the DfT to introduce a travel subsidy based on ‘social need’.
11. We welcome the discussions between the Council of the Isles of Scilly and the DfT on introducing subsidised travel based on social need.  The DfT must recognise that the people living on the Isles of Scilly are an isolated community and that they consequently need support to access healthcare and other vital services on the mainland. We expect the DfT to set out the result of those discussions in its response to this Report.

 END

Comment:

Marian Bennett in a press release said: 


FRIST welcomes the Committee’s endorsement of its campaign for an affordable all year round link to the mainland, and urges the Isles of Scilly Council to engage fully with other groups, including FRIST and the Island Partnership, to take forward joint discussions with the DfT, so that ministers can report on positive progress when it responds to the Committee.

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