Tuesday 4 February 2014

FRIST delegation meets Minister for Transport

A delegation from FRIST met with Minister (Baroness Kramer) on 23 Jan in London.  The delegation (Marian Bennett and Nicholas Jenkins) were supported by Andrew George MP and Lord Tony Berkeley (Chair of the FRIST Advisory Group).  Nigel Blackler from Cornwall Council also attended.  The invitation came as a result of letter to the Minister by Marian Bennett, FRIST's Coordinator on the islands.

FRIST took the opportunity to explain to the Minister the issues facing islanders and islands' tourist economy which had shrunk substantially in the last two years.  Recent increases in ticket prices (see earlier post) raised the spectre of a downward spiral with declining numbers forcing up ticket prices which in turn discouraged visitors forcing even higher ticket prices.  The impact of unreliable transport links on delivery of health service was also raised.

The benefit of proposed infrastructure improvements of harbours and airports was welcomed as likely to improve reliability, except for delays caused by fog.  The infrastructure improvements were however unlikely to lead to any reduction in fares.

FRIST feared the cost of replacing the current ferry posed an insurmountable obstacle for the operator without public financial support.  The Minister believed any support, either for the vessel  or for any future heliport service, should in the first instance, be sought locally, possibly via the LEP and the Local Growth Fund.  It should be a local decision with support from both Cornwall Council and the IOS Council .  The Minister did not rule out any options but stated that there needed to be a clear and united view  from Scilly on what was needed.  It was agreed that FRIST should facilitate a round-table discussion to aid this process.  Andrew George MP and Nigel Blackler agreed to attend and the DfT would provide a member of staff.

 Read a summary of the meeting here .
Read Scilly Today news item & comments here

Additional Notes:

Details of fare rises since 2012 are available in are earlier post here . 

Comment on the IOS Council Transport Survey and a link to the report can be found here.

The majority visitors to Scilly travel by air.  Numbers have been declining over the past decade and have dropped off steeply since 2012.  The estimated number of air passengers for 2013/14 has been revised downward from 108,000 to 92,000. (-19%).  In 2010 the number was 145,478 (1)and in 2003 it was 182,078. (1)   Note 1.  2003 and 2010 figures includes both Tresco and St Mary's helicopter passengers. 

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