Parliamentary sketch – The road to Scilly…
If the Scillies were linked by a 28 mile sliver of land the Government would have built an expensive road to the place and be expected to maintain it. As it’s separated by water they don’t have to.
I will question the Prime Minister this week. Not to ask why there’s only sea and no land! But to ask for his support on taking a long hard look at how we secure sustainable transport to the islands into the future.
While various views about the plans for the ferry link were the cause of much rancorousness, the closest the Scillies has to a ‘lifeline’ was, in fact, the helicopter service; established by a state enterprise (BEA) nearly 50 years ago. The fisticuffs over the harbour plans caused such a diversion, few took much notice when some of us warned against the folly of making the helicopter service homeless before it had been found a new home, and just so that yet another supermarket could be built out of town.
Since the service stopped last month, there have been many days when the primary air link between St Mary’s and Lands End aerodrome was inoperable. Medical links (for patients, samples, blood products, etc) are now particularly challenged.
Though I’ve been working with a number of stakeholders and am encouraged that they have come together to explore a solution, this is a long shot and will need Government support. The islanders cannot solve this one on their own, and nor can Cornwall Council just step in.
So that’s why I’ve asked the Prime Minister for his support and probable intervention. Of course I’m not asking him to take over the running of his Department for Transport, nor to select the best aircraft or to have an opinion on the siting of a heliport. But sometimes a favourable word from above can move blockages in the system.
He’ll find that the solution to the Scillies transport problems is like most of the rest of Government. There are no easy answers, no silver bullets, just tough choices and very few thanks.
As many people face challenging plans for their travel to get home to see family at this time of year, I hope that Government Ministers will appreciate that Scillonians face some of the greatest challenges of all.
MP for the West Cornwall &
Isles of Scilly constituency of St Ives
18th December 2012