Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Isles of Scilly Link set to cost Cornwall another £5m. So why isn't the Duchy paying anything?

Tomorrow morning, Cornwall Council's Cabinet will be asked to agree spending another £5 million on the renewed Isles of Scilly link project - the upgrading of the harbours at both Penzance and St Marys and the new boat.

As a consequence, there is unlikely to be any boat replacement fund built up so, once the new boat reaches the end of its life in 20 years or more, the councils will have to go cap in hand to the Government once again for a handout.

There has been a lot of controversy about whether this is the right way of providing the link. I don't want to get into that argument - particularly not from 80 miles away. But what concerns me is who is putting money into the project.

The largest contribution is coming from the Government (£35.3m). Also contributing is Cornwall Council (£15m) and a large chunk of convergence funding from both Cornwall Council and the Council of the Isles of Scilly (£11.75m).

The key player which is giving nothing is the Duchy of Cornwall, despite the fact that they own and manage the harbour at St Marys. They gave a good chunk of money to the planning phase but they say that they are not allowed to give money to the actual building works on land that they own and manage because it is unlikely to show a cost effective return.

Given that the alternative at this stage to any works being done is the loss of the service completely and thus the loss of most of the islands' income, I would think that this is a pretty indefensible line of argument.

I'm disappointed with the Duchy's decision on this. Both councils and the Government are stumping up what they can afford. So should the Duchy.

1 comment:

Stephen Richardson said...

Either the Duchy is a 'well run private estate' in which case it has no duty to anyone except the Duke of Cornwall or it is a Trust which has a duty to get the best return for its beneficiary (again the Duke of Cornwall). The Duchy seems to switch between its dual identities in a Jekyll and Hyde kind of way to avoid its responsibilities to Cornwall.

Even if the Duchy wants to assume its 'Trust' role in this instance there is no reason why the Duke of Cornwall, who takes some £16m from Cornwall (via the Duchy) each year, should not make a personal contribution.