Government transport investments welcome, as far as they go – George

Posted on: 12th August 2014

The Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, will confirm the go ahead of important harbour improvements on St Mary’s and at Penzance and announce £1.8 million funding for the resurfacing St Mary’s roads when he visits West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly on Wednesday 13th August, according to local MP Andrew George.

The MP for West Cornwall & Scilly said he welcomed the Government announcement as a campaign success for the Scillies, but said that the Government should find more additional funding “from down the back of its sofa” if the area was to achieve parity of Government support with the London region.

Mr George said, “I’m pleased that the Secretary of State has agreed to visit the constituency and that he will confirm the go ahead of the Harbour projects and his acceptance of our campaign to fund the once in a generation opportunity to resurface roads on St Mary’s.

“I’m sure the Transport Secretary will take time to view the welcome improvements to airport resilience at Land’s End and St Mary’s.

“But for West Cornwall and Scilly to achieve parity of Government support with the London region, as it deserves, the Government will have to look again down the back of its sofa again to find the funding. They’ve pulled out welcome monies at short notice for St Mary’s’ roads, but:

1)  we have a bid with his Department for an important Scillies Park and Ride Scheme at Eastern Green and Penzance; and

2)  a request for funds to commission a scoping report and options appraisal for the near universally supported ambition to build an offshore breakwater at Penzance; and

3)  the Secretary of State knows that we’re bringing forward plans for a helicopter service between Penzance and the Isles which may require an element of Government underwriting.

“It is therefore vital that my Parliamentary colleague – the Secretary of State for Transport – comes with a willingness to listen and engage with those who’ve brought these projects forward.”

Mr George was also asked by some in the local media how he would react if the Transport Secretary sought to use his Governmental visit to make Party political points or to advance the cause of a local Tory candidate. Mr George said:

“The vital need to secure the investment in transport infrastructure which West Cornwall and Scilly desperately needs should be a matter set above the zero-sum game of party tribalism. It would be a regret if the Secretary of State came all this way just to engage in a misguided attempt to advance a party political cause.

“I’ve brought people together across parties to advance the cause of improved transport links. The Offshore Breakwater Working Party is making great progress and meets regularly in my office under the excellent chairmanship of former College Principal Jonathan Burnett along with the supportive assistance of Conservative Mayor of Penzance, David Nebesnuick. If the Secretary of State were to give any impression that he would only favour the right project if it provided political advantage for his Party over others, fitness for office questions ought to be raised.”