THE group campaigning for affordable and reliable year-round transport links with the mainland is challenging the Transport Minister's 'no subsidy' stance with an example from his own back yard.
Ringmer, whose population is similar to the islands', lies in East Sussex – in the constituency of Transport Minister Norman Baker, who has reiterated that government policy is not to subsidise Scilly's transport connections.
Friends of Isles of Scilly Transport (FRIST), whose co-ordinator is Marian Bennett, asks in its latest newsletter: "What would the local and national politicians say if Ringmer had been cut off from all physical contact with the rest of the country for perhaps 20 days last winter, with just phone and power?
"On a further 38 days you could get to other parts of the country, but it would take an extra two hours to get even to the closest town of Eastbourne or to Lewes, normally ten minutes away, and you did not know which of the routes taking two hours longer would be passable."
Would the people of Ringmer or any similar village in England be happy, asks FRIST: "What would they expect their local council, their local transport providers and their local stakeholder groups to do?"
FRIST says Ringmer residents would expect them to communicate and work together to do the best they could to resolve the problem, to press local and central government to assist and safeguard social and economic security, campaign for parity with other similar communities and make sure they achieved a permanent, not just temporary, improvement in quality of service, reliability and costs. The group has previously cited the example of Islay in Scotland in support of its claim that Scilly is being treated unfairly.