Statement from the Council of the Isles of Scilly: Isles of Scilly Sea Links

Statement from the Council of the Isles of Scilly - Scrutiny Committee – 20 March 2024 - Isles of Scilly Sea Links

On 20 March 2024, both the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group and Harland & Wolff were given the opportunity to appear before the Council’s Scrutiny Committee to present their plans and answer any questions regarding the sea link services which they will be providing in 2024 and subsequent years. A full recording of the meeting can be viewed using the link below:

Following the meeting, one of the operators has written to the Council to request that a statement be issued correcting a factual inaccuracy during the committee meeting.

In responding to this request, the Council has reviewed all the information provided by both operators to the Scrutiny Committee and produced a full set of corrections. These are set out below and need to be taken into account when considering the information provided by the two operators.

Rejection of Levelling Up Funding for new vessels

The Steamship Group gave nine reasons why the company was unable to use the £48.4m of Levelling Up Funding to replace the three existing passenger and freight vessels. Eight of the nine reasons were found to be factually incorrect. A table summarising the information used by the Council to arrive at this assessment is attached on this webpage as a PDF file.

Rejection of alternative proposal for funding new vessels

The Steamship Group stated that the Council had rejected the company’s alternative 49/51 proposal which involved reducing the amount of Levelling Up Funding required in order to avoid competition. The decision to reject this proposal was taken by the Department for Transport. This was based on independent legal advice and was set out in a letter from the Minister for Aviation, Maritime and Security to the Chief Executive Officer of the Steamship Group dated 17 March 2023.

Review of financial modelling for Levelling Up

During the meeting, the Steamship Group was asked to confirm whether the company had gone through the financial modelling undertaken by the Council to show how the finances would work. Whilst the company confirmed that regular discussions had taken place, it omitted to say that it had not taken-up repeated offers to go through the Council’s modelling to gain a greater understanding of how the finances would work and what this would mean for passenger fares, freight tariffs and the company’s profits.

Freight charges applied for service not provided over Christmas 2023

In response to a question, Harland & Wolff explained that having stepped in before Christmas to maintain the freight service when the Gry Maritha was unavailable at no cost, none of the freight customers were given any discounts. The Steamship Group has subsequently confirmed that no freight customers were charged for the freight carried by Harland and Wolff during this period.

The outcome of the Scrutiny Committee will be considered at the meeting of Full Council on 18 April 2024.

Publishing date: 
Thursday, 4 April, 2024