Saturday 25 May 2013

Minister says "No" to Transport Subsidy

Cornishman online 23 May 2013.   "There is no cash available for a subsidised service between Penzance and the Isles of Scilly, the Government has said."  the article went on to say "Patrick McLoughlin, the Secretary of State for  Transport , said the country needed to focus on cutting the deficit and not on securing a year-round subsidised link to the remote islands".

You can read the full item here .

Comment (from Dick Cliffe, Chairman of Penzance Chamber of Commerce)

The reality of the situation is that transport links to the islands have not received revenue subsidies in the past but both the helicopter service and the current ferry were funded with capital help from the Government (British European Airways was Government owned when the helicopter service was set up).  The helicopter service ceased in Nov 2012 after years of financial struggle.   The Route Partnership scheme which involved a capital grant to help fund a replacement for the Scillonian was turned down in March 2011.  The Scillonian has been given a life extension to 2018 with investment in a refit by the IOSSCo.  In 2018 the Scillonian will have been in service for 41 years. 

With the Scillonian limited to 450 passenger and crew by the MCA (verses 600) and visitor numbers falling or stagnating in part due to high travel costs, it is not obvious how the IOSSCO can fund a replacement ferry vessel.  Without a ferry visitors have to accept a relatively expensive and weather dependent air service as the only transport option.  This is not a combination of factors that is going to support the islands as a mainstream tourist destination in the future generating a tourist spend of £34 million/year (2011 figure from Visit Cornwalls "Value of Tourism Report").


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