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Council Community Fund applications spark debate

Two applications to the Council's Community Fund have been deferred for further information after Members expressed concerns.

A request from Transition Scilly for £2,000 to support the acquisition of four bee hives sparked debate among Councillors at the April 11th meeting, with Cllr Andy Guy speaking out against it.

He first said he wanted to defer the application for more information, revealing that he had spoken to two beekeepers who make a living from the practice on the islands. He later amended his comment, saying he was going to ask for a refusal as "a number of members of the public have approached me on the issue".

He said: "There’s a decline in bees. That’s the main reason and the Varroa virus, which is a concern. Why have four bee hives when you aren’t sure you’re going to have bees to go in them?"

Cllr Dan Marcus disagreed with his reasoning, responding: "Hearsay is not scientific proof. I don’t see any evidence in front of me that that is the case. If there is a decline in something you don’t take stuff away from it to prevent that decline, you add and encourage growth to prevent decline."

He suggested reducing the size of the application but not refusing it outright, adding: "I don’t think it's sending out a good message. We’re supporting the diverse ecology and ecological understanding, especially when we’ve got the next paper [on the agenda], which is about climate crisis within the whole planet. What kind of messages are we trying to send out to the community?"

The Monitoring Officer then suggested deferring the item in order to obtain evidence before making a decision. Cllr Williams and Cllr Adrian Davis spoke in favour of the idea.

Cllr Davis said: "There’s obviously concern in the community that an infected agent could be brought into the islands and also that’s there’s an unexplained decline at present in bees in the islands. We need more information that Transition Scilly has done their homework on this and we need to be reassured that we're not aiding and abetting something that could be detrimental to the islands. On the other hand we’re not in any way suggesting that we don’t agree with the work that Transition Scilly does."

Cllr Marcus replied: "I’d like to make it clear that in no part of the application does it say they’re going to import bees to the islands."

All Members except Cllr Avril Mumford eventually voted to defer the application for more information. Cllr Mumford abstained.

Meanwhile, an application from the Taste of Scilly Market Group for £800 to support the acquisition of stalls for a new local food market was also deferred after Cllr Euan Rodger expressed concerns.

He said: "They state in their application that they have been fully supported by the Islands' Partnership. I believe they met with the Executive Director in January but they've had very little contact with the Partnership since then.

"Also, we have ten perfectly good and able market stalls on the islands which are in the remit of the Islands' Partnership which get very little use and I'd like to see from this applicant why they have chosen not to make use of those rather than go out and buy some more."

Four other applications did receive support from Members.

The Isles of Scilly Folk Club were given £1,000 to support the Folk Festival 2019 (with one abstention from Cllr Williams) and St Mary’s Theatre Club received £315 to support the One Act Play Festival in May 2019 and £300 for next year's event. Both applications were refused last month and subsequently resubmitted with additional information.

Five Islands Football Club was given £1,000 to support the training of more football coaches and Drama Express was allocated £500 for a series of workshops and performances for children and young people with additional support needs.

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