Councillor: 'Give Steamship Group staff a break'
Councillor Steve Sims has urged islanders to be more considered in their criticism of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group.
At a meeting of the Scrutiny Committee on February 1st, Members briefly discussed a freight update report by Steamship Group Managing Director Mark Howarth.
Cllr Sims said of the update: "I thought it was a good, warts-and-all report about where the Steamship Group wants to go. I just wanted to draw attention to the last paragraph because the ISSG are coming in for quite a lot of flack left, right and centre at the moment and I think their staff are feeling it."
He then read out the end of the report, in which the Managing Director says: "The message that I would also like to leave is that if anecdotal remarks are made about our operations, to check out the facts before passing them on. Whilst we are working with people and machines, both of which can fail from time to time, and so we can get it wrong sometimes, we will learn from those mistakes. However, we don’t want to be unnecessarily criticised for things that have not actually gone wrong. Our hard working staff will also appreciate this."
Cllr Sims commented: "I think that’s actually perhaps more pertinent now than any time in the last 15 years for the ISSG because they are in a situation where lots of people just want to jump on them pointlessly. Sometimes they need to be jumped on but lots of times they don’t. It’s a good report that I would recommend anyone who wants to know about freight have a good look at."
Cllr Harry Legg said: "I would say I was surprised there wasn’t a little bit more on the Mali Rose", to which Cllr Jonathan Smith responded: "We should keep a careful eye on that and we should be asking with scrutiny, e.g. why the Gry is going out of service just after the gig championships."
He added: "But I concur with what Steve says that it is a good report and it’s honest, I think. And it’s a very welcome tone, which is really encouraging. It’s a step change in communication with the ISSG.
"It’s very good news that there’s now an islands manager. That will help staff morale, I think, which has taken a hell of a knock... But nonetheless I think we should keep a careful eye on the Gry and the Mali Rose and also on pricing. It’s going to be very interesting to see what comes out of this transparent pricing but as [the report] says, there will be some winners and losers."
The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group has been widely criticised in recent months for its decision to seek a judicial review into the proposed new Penzance Heliport.
Read Mark Howarth's Freight Update here.