Council continues to make case for affordable transport links at Islands Forum

The Council’s Chairman, Councillor Robert Francis, and Chief Executive, Paul Masters, attended the third Islands Forum which took place on 9 and 10 October 2023 on the Isle of Lewis off the northwest coast of Scotland. The meeting, which was chaired by the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, focussed on the different transport challenges faced by island communities around the UK. Also in attendance was Parliamentary Under Secretary for Levelling Up, Jacob Young MP and Parliamentary Under Secretary for Transport, Richard Holden MP.

The Chairman presented to the forum the challenges that are specific to the Isles of Scilly, where, unlike in the Scottish islands, there is no public subsidy to make fares affordable for sea or air travel.

Delegates heard that despite being allocated £48.4m of Levelling Up funding by government, the Isles of Scilly faces an uncertain future following the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group’s announcement that it intends to build replacement vessels using private finance funded by its customers.

The Secretary of State was urged to seek a strategic approach to supporting lifeline sea and air routes which must be affordable and reliable.

Councillor Francis said: “the Islands Forum provided the opportunity for me to update the Secretary of State, and other government ministers, on the work the Council is doing to retain access to the Levelling Up funding for our vital lifeline sea links and to discuss with some of the leaders from the other islands around the UK the benefits of having affordable transport links year-round.

The Secretary of State was keen to understand the challenges we face which differ from other Islands and I was pleased to have been able to reinforce the need for government to offer us financial support.”

Publishing date: 
Friday, 13 October, 2023