A councillor has welcomed a decision by Penzance Town Council not to allow a piece of wreckage from the HMS Association to return to the Islands at a cost of ?20,000.

Cllr Gordon Bilsborough had argued that retrieving the sternboard of the ship, famously wrecked in 1707, would cost the average Scilly taxpayer ?20 per head.

The Islands’ council wanted the artefact - currently at Penzance Magistrates’ Court - to be displayed in the council chamber as part of a commemoration of the 300th anniversary of the disaster later this year.

But councillors is Penzance voted not to part with it at a meeting on 16 July.

A final decision on the issue will rest with Penwith District Council on 29 August.

“I find it difficult to believe that Penwith Members will ignore the overwhelmingly democratic decision of Penzance Town Council,” said Mr Bilsborough.

“As a separate issue, there is some doubt as to whether or not the sternboard secured to the wall of the courtroom in St John’s Hall in Penzance actually came from the Association.”

He added that he was “very disturbed” to read that the Islands’ Assistant Chief Technical Officer had said Scilly has a “very good relationship” with the people of Penzance and would be happy to replace their coat of arms.

“I hope that all councillors will be given ample opportunity to debate this matter before any action is taken to spend ?20,000 from our diminishing Reserves on an item of disputed origin when there are so many more important problems to address,” he said.