Ministers turn down ferry link

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Government ministers today announced that they are unable to support the Isles of Scilly Ferry project in its present form.

It is not necessarily the end of the scheme, however, as they said the Government is keen to work with Cornwall Council, the Steamship Company and other stakeholders to develop a “simpler, lower cost solution” for the Isles of Scilly Ferry service.

Local MP Andrew George expressed his “disappointment” at the decision, but said he remained confident that a solution could still be worked out.

He said: “I fear that the project was destined to be turned down completely had Transport Ministers gathered an impression that the two Councils’ high risk “all or nothing” approach was shared by the mainstream communities in Penzance and on Scilly. It is wrong to gamble with a lifeline service.

“Crucially, ministers could see what was going on and were persuaded that lower cost alternatives were available and have sensibly asked the Councils to think again rather than turn the whole thing down.

“Reassuringly, the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company are renowned for their commitment to this service and loyalty to the Scillies and Penzance over the last 90 years of unbroken service. I feel confident the company will work to use their freedom and talent to constructively engage to help find a long-term solution”

He said the scheme’s credibility had been undermined by the Council’s claim that the only alternative was to run a ferry service from Falmouth. He called that “regrettable”, but was buoyed by the ministers’ readiness to “overlook this and to throw the project a lifeline”.

Steamship Company chairman Andrew May added: “We have supported the Isles of Scilly link bid throughout a long and sometimes difficult process. The minister has made his reasons clear for refusing to fund the link as originally presented but has invited a revised bid if the partners can put together a lower cost option, and we believe it is important to explore what the options could be.

“In the meantime, we would like to reassure islanders and passengers that our existing freight and passenger vessels are fit for purpose until at least 2014 so there will be no interruption to services for the foreseeable future.”

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