Harbour: what's the hold-up, asks Minister
A GOVERNMENT minister has again written to Penzance Town Council in a bid to keep a multimillion-pound harbour development on track.
Norman Baker MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, contacted the local council to find out the latest on the development.
In May he wrote to Councillor Jon Pender, chairman of the Penzance Harbour Scheme Management Board (PHSMB) raising concerns over the time the scheme was taking. "He was saying, 'Can we get this thing to go and what are your views on it?'," said Mr Pender.
The minister asked for a response on a local and county level within a month.
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Town councillors met this week to draft their side of a letter to the Department.
"What we want to set out is that Penzance Town Council has done everything that we were asked to do and we produced a scheme that satisfies all the various requirements that we were asked to achieve," said Mr Pender.
By missing a deadline to find funding for the next detailed stage, the project could miss out on £4 million of EU cash.
The remainder of the £8 million cost is due to come from the Department for Transport.
"There's always been the issue of whether we can plug into the European money," said Mr Pender. "We've asked if the timeframe can be extended but we haven't had a response."
It has been around three weeks since town councillors met County Hall representatives to discuss a way forward.
Asked if he was worried the process was taking too long, Mr Pender said: "I've always been worried about the timeframe."
He also hinted that the council was exploring other avenues if the bid for EU cash failed. "We're thinking of other ways we may be able to get funding for this particular scheme," he said.
A letter will be sent to Cornwall Council within the next week and it will be up to the authority to draft their side of it. A cohesive document will then be sent to the Department for Transport.
A spokeswoman for the department said: "The Department for Transport has set aside funding for potential harbour improvements at Penzance and St Mary's, provided that local partners can develop a deliverable scheme, supported by a satisfactory business case, and can secure part- funding from the EU Convergence Programme."
The plan for development of the harbour on St Mary's will only receive its slice of the European funding if its Penzance counterpart goes ahead.
Mike Hicks, chairman of the Council of the Isles of Scilly, said: "We're all ready and raring to go.
"We're waiting with bated breath for Penzance to make a move."