The MP for the Isles of Scilly, Derek Thomas, has called for the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company to focus on improving the operation of its lifeline shipping services.
Representatives of the company, including Chairman Andrew May, were called to meet Transport and Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani after concerns about freight and passenger services to the Islands were expressed by Scillonians, visitors as well as Derek himself.
Following the meeting in the middle of April, the Transport and Maritime Minister said that in future she expected regular updates from the Steamship Company and a clear plan towards replacing the Scillonian III.
The Transport and Maritime Minister has also asked the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company to respond to the points raised in a letter, which can be read here. The Isles of Scilly Steamship Company has been asked to respond by 31st May 2018.
Derek said: "The Steamship Company must not lose sight of its core role as the sole operator of both passenger and freight services between Penzance and St Mary’s."
The MP for the St Ives constituency, which includes Scilly added: “In recent weeks I’ve received a number of emails and letters from Scilly residents and businesses detailing concerns and issues involving the freight service and it is clear that the operation is not running as it should. Businesses are not getting the service they deserve and when there are problems, they are not being kept informed about what is going on by the Steamship Company.”
Complaints to Derek include a number of cancellations of the Gry Maritha freight service which go back to last autumn and occasions when the ship was unable to carry heavy items.
The Gry Maritha’s replacement, the Mali Rose which was purchased in May 2016 has not been able to take over as the sole freight vessel. During sea trials last month the vessel had to turn back after the crew “identified a couple of technical issues.”
Radio Scilly contacted the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company to get their response to the matter in hand.
The Chairman of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group, Andrew May said: “It is extraordinary and deeply disappointing that the MP for St Ives has chosen to publish and promote via a press release his selective interpretation of a private meeting he arranged between our company and a Minister of State, and even more extraordinary that his office appears to have issued to the media personal correspondence addressed to me from the Minister, which he was copied in to."
Andrew added: "I am writing to Mr Thomas to seek an urgent explanation as to why he has done this, and why now.”
Will was joined on the phone by MP Derek Thomas to talk about this matter in further detail.
The Isles of Scilly Steamship Company has also been invited to speak to us further. We are currently waiting on their response.