Transport Select Committee Report

The Transport Select Committee have now published their 8th Special Report - Passenger transport in isolated communities: Government Response to the Committee's Fourth Report of Session 2014-15. The Council along with others gave evidence at the Committee and the Department for Transport has now responded. The response from the Department for Transport is as follows:

Isles of Scilly

Recommendation by the Transport Select Committee 2: We welcome the discussions between the Council of the Isles of Scilly and the DfT on introducing subsidised travel based on social need. The DfT must recognise that the people living on the Isles of Scilly are an isolated community and that they consequently need support to access healthcare and other vital services on the mainland. We expect the DfT to set out the result of those discussions in its response to this Report. (Paragraph 11)

Response by the Department for Transport: The Department recognises that, for Isles of Scilly residents, accessing vital services can be more difficult and challenging than for people living on the mainland. We also appreciate that the difficulties have been more pronounced in the last couple of years, as a result of extreme weather events and the discontinuation of the helicopter services.

Nevertheless transport services to and from the mainland continue to operate without public subsidy as has always been the case. Indeed there has been a renewed investment by the private operators of the Skybus service with increased services to redress the loss of the helicopter service.

In addition the public sector has contributed to the improvement of infrastructure, including a new hard runway at Land's End airport, which will make it more resilient to flooding. Combined with over £7m of funding from DfT for improvements to St Mary's and Penzance Harbours, which will improve freight handling and increase the viability of new or replacement passenger ferries to the Isles of Scilly within the commercial sector.

We hope these investments will improve the reliability of the transport links on which the residents of the Isles of Scilly depend although we recognise that there is a need to think about resilience in the longer term.

The Council of the Isles of Scilly met with Baroness Kramer in June, a meeting that is referred to in the Select Committee report. In that meeting a residents' discount scheme was mentioned by the Council as an option but not discussed in depth. This contrasts with the emphasis given to the suggestion in the newspaper report quoted in the Select Committee's report.

The Department welcomes the renewed efforts of the Council of the Isles of Scilly, particularly the setting up of a Transport User Forum, and continues to consider that the Council should take the lead in building a consensus among the public and key stakeholders about the strategic long-term vision for transport and develop an evidence based long-term strategy. The strategy would need to look at how the transport system can continue to meet residents' needs, deliver the services on which they depend, and consider what, if any, further public support might be needed in the future. The case for any specific intervention by Government would need to be made in the context of an overall strategy, and would need to be supported by evidence and a consideration of options.

The Transport for Scilly Board, supported by the Transport Task and Finish Group welcome this challenge and the need for a proper evidence base and long term strategy supported by all partners and have committed to finding deliverable solutions for the Transport issues facing the islands.

Governance of Transport on the Isles of Scilly

A new Governance structure has been put in place on Scilly, in response to Baroness Kramer’s request for a unified voice.

Publishing date: 
Tuesday, 4 November, 2014