The Duchy of Cornwall estate would like to hear the views of Isles of Scilly residents and other stakeholders on the future management of St Mary's Harbour, and has today launched a Public Consultation (phase two of a pre-application consultation); on this subject. The Duchy has recently conducted a review of the current harbour management arrangements, which date from 1890. Following this review, the Duchy is keen to ensure that the long term future of the harbour operation is secure and sustainable and recommends that the management structure is modernised allowing for more community engagement.
In the meantime, in order to ensure the long term viability and future financial stability of the harbour, from 2016, a small charge will be applied to passengers embarking and disembarking on the Scillonian III. The charge will not apply to members of the IOSSC travel club (which exempts most local residents). The introduction of the charge complies with financial guidance relating to the management of ports, which encourages harbours to operate to ensure that they are financially sustainable.
The Duchy has managed the Harbour through a significant amount of change but does not consider that it is the best custodian of this important Island resource. The current quay extension works are being entirely funded by public funds from the Department for Transport and the EU (via the Department of Communities and Local Government). Given such a commitment of public funds, it is an appropriate time to consider the potential for a more modern form of governance for the Harbour, allowing for greater community engagement and requiring that any surplus funds should be reinvested in the Harbour.
The quay extension works (public funding) and further improvement works to the existing quay and harbourside buildings which the Duchy is funding separately (at the cost of in excess of £675,000) means that the quay and harbour buildings will be in very good condition prior to the introduction of any new governance arrangements.
Given the significance of the Harbour to the island residents and businesses, the Duchy is in favour of creating a new Statutory Harbour Authority, in the form of a Trust Port to manage St Mary's Harbour. Trust Ports are the most common type of Statutory Harbour Authority in the UK. A Trust Port is created by, or under local legislation for the purpose of managing a harbour. There are no shareholders or owners. Trust Ports operate for the benefit of the harbour and its stakeholders; in this case the local community are key stakeholders. A Trust Port would allow for increased community engagement through the establishment of a Stakeholder 'Advisory Group' with a statutory right to be consulted on a regular basis. Trust Ports are, ultimately, answerable to the Department for Transport.
The Duchy believes the option of a Trust Port provides the best possible solution for the future of the harbour, although other options are also outlined in the Consultation document for consideration. It is very keen to hear the opinions of islanders on these proposed changes and is inviting submissions until the 6th February 2015.
The full Consultation document is available for review on the St Mary's Harbour website.
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