Who runs FRIST?FRIST has an Advisory Group whose membership attempts to cover the range of interests affected by transport issues. This includes business and community interest on the islands and business interests in Penzance/Penwith. On a day to day basis the Campaign is coordinated by Marian Bennet on the islands supported by Dick Cliffe, Penzance Chamber of Commerce, on the mainland. The Advisory Group membership on 7 Feb 2013 comprised:
Islanders:Robert Dorrien-Smith (Tresco)
James Francis (Star Castle Hotel, St Mary’s)
Marian Bennett (Bryher)
Richard Larn (Maritime historian and author)
(there are 2 vacant positions)
Mainland:Lord Tony Berkeley (long term visitor and transport expert)
Roger Boughton (long term visitor and logistics expert)
Mike Adams (Business campaign group Future Penzance)
Dick Cliffe (Penzance Chamber of Commerce)
Rex Cowan (Lawyer, shipwreck explorer, author and broadcaster)
What is FRIST trying to achieve?The aim of FRIST is to achieve affordable, reliable all year round lifeline transport links between the Isles of Scilly and the mainland to sustain the community and the tourism based economy upon which the community depends.
Why does the Government have to step when the private sector have coped OK for decades?Whilst transport services have operated without Government operating subsidy, both the current ferry (Scillonian III) and the S61 helicopters (now ceased) were funded with the help of public money. The Scillonian benefited from a £1 million interest free loan in 1976/77 (since re-paid) covering approximately 60% of the capital cost of the vessel. The Minister for Transport decided in March 2011 not to fund the Route Partnership project which would have provided Government grants towards the cost of a replacement ferry. No plan has been disclosed that shows how the Scillonian III can be replaced on a purely commercial basis.
The Government decision not to help with funding a replacement vessel has has profound implications for the community and its visitor based economy. Cornwall has an enormous tourism based economy worth more than £1.8 billion/year (2011) which is entirely dependent upon the Government maintaining the major highways and subsidizing the railway service. The Isles of Scilly has a £34 million tourism sector but receives no ongoing help with transport links from the mainland. The Isles of Scilly will be increasingly disadvanted in the future as part publicly funded assets leave operational service. The helicopter service ceased in 2012 and the ageing Scillonian III ferry only continues to 2018 because of heroic investment by the IOSSCo in a major refit.