About

Michael Lilley

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi

I live everyday with the above words in my mind. These words have meant so much during my lifetime. I believe as a politician and elected councillor you have to put into action the changes that will make the world a better place, both locally and wider.

For me this has been both as an Isle of Wight and Town Councillor for Ryde Appley and Elmfield (formerly Ryde East), and also as a former Mayor of Ryde, the “town on the beach”.

I simply love the Island, especially the East and South. It is my home. I want to make it a better place for all its residents

– Get to know Michael

– Education and Work History

– Top Achievements in 8 years as a Local Councillor and Community Activist

– Environment, Climate Change, Green Space, and Green Jobs

– Heritage

– Young People

– Mental Health

– Poverty

– Community

– Community Development

– Carnivals and Festivals

– Achievements as an Elected Ryde Councillor

– Isle of Wight Political History

– Political Beliefs, Community Activism, Humanitarianism and Environmentalist

Get to know Michael

I live in Ryde with my wife, Julia, a retired child protection social worker, and I am 66 years of age. We have five grown-up children between us from our first marriages, and two grandchildren. We were both single parents for many years before we met in 2004. We both have a love of dogs and our current dog is called Benson.

I am extremely active in contributing to the Isle of Wight community. On a personal level I raise funds for, initiate and participate in local charities and campaigns. I write children’s books and I am a keen gardener.

I am a serving Liberal Democratic Party Councillor on the Unitary Local Authority of the Isle of Wight (IW Council) and Ryde Town Council representing Ryde Appley and Elmfield Ward within the new East Wight Constituency.

Ryde Appley and Elmfield is one of the 20 IW Council wards that make up the new Constituency. I am a current member of the Liberal Democratic Group on the Isle of Wight Council and a member of the Green Lib Dems within the national Lib Dem Party.

Education and Work History

I went to Bembridge School on the Isle of Wight and left in 1974 aged 17. My professional work history started in 1974 as an apprentice manager in the hospitality and transport industries. In 1978 I attended Bulmershe College (Reading University) to study youth and community work and counselling.

From 1979 until 1997, I worked across the UK, but principally worked within poor and refugee communities in Telford, Nottinghamshire, and Cleveland. I was the first community enterprise worker in the UK and specialised in working with the poorest in the community to create self-projects that combatted homelessness and unemployment.

I went to Keele and City Universities and studied psychology, criminology and education qualifying in community and counselling psychology and specialising in post-traumatic stress. I started counselling in the late 80’s initially for those living with HIV/Aids and later refugees, veterans and police officers who experienced trauma.

In 1997, I founded the My Time psychological practice/movement in Birmingham and was Chief Executive until 2017 when My Time merged with the Richmond Fellowship, becoming the largest voluntary provider of mental health services in England. My Time operated on Isle of Wight from 2013 to 2017. My wife and I moved to Ryde in 2013. I have been a local, regional, national and international spokesperson on community psychology. I retired professionally in 2017 to focus on local politics. I literally went from the counselling sector to become a councillor.

My achievements as a local politician and community activist over the past 8 years have grown from their roots in Ryde, to having a cascading effect and influence throughout the Isle of Wight.

Top Achievements in 8 years as a Local Councillor and Community Activist:

Some of my achievements and activities over the past 8 years are listed below.

They are well documented through my newsletters and blogs on this website. OntheWight also has a record of press releases on Michael Lilley (onthewight.com)

Environment, Climate Change, Green Space, and Green Jobs

Saving Greenfields

Supporting Residents in a 8year fight to save greenspace in Ryde from overdevelopment which has resulted in one development being stopped (Pennyfeathers) and another (Westridge Farm) now going to Judicial Review – Save Westridge Farm Campaign (crowdjustice.com)

Preventing Sewage being released on Ryde beaches

Working with residents and Surfers Against Sewage in campaigning against Southern Water who illegally release raw sewage into the Solent.

Campaigning for Climate Change and Green Jobs

In 2018, put forward the motion for IW Council to declare a Climate Emergency and establish a Climate Emergency strategy. I have been a director/trustee of Wight Community Energy which has pioneered communityowned solar farming on the Island – Home – Wight Community Energy – (iowcommunityenergy.org) I have championed the idea of the Isle of Wight being a Green and Circular Economy Island and I commissioned a Green Jobs Report in 2016 which I am still working on getting adopted.

Wight Community Energy (Solar Farm)

A Trustee/Director.

Heritage

Saving Appley Tower

(an important local icon for the town of Ryde) from private sale by IW Council, and working with community stakeholders to develop the Appley Tower Heritage Project and raising the finance to renovate and preserve it as a community art gallery – Natural Enterprise | Appley Tower Heritage Project

Wight Aviation Museum, Sandown – Founder Member

Wight Aviation Museum is an East Wight charity based at Sandown Airport which celebrates the Isle of Wight’s engineering and aviation/astronautics history.

My family donated my father’s archive and his office is displayed at the Museum.

I wrote two children’s books about man-powered flight and rocket island (Papa Owl Books) which established activities and promoted science for local school children – Wight Aviation Museum – Celebrating the Isle of Wight’s Aviation History

Young People

Isle of Wight Youth Trust

Longserving Clinical Trustee/Director.

IW Youth Trust is the premier charity supporting the mental well-being of young Islanders and their families – Home | IOW Youth Trust

This service has grown yearly from an income of £200K to now nearing £1M and supports 1000s of young people. Funding of building?

Network Ryde (Ryde’s Youth Service)

Campaigning and working with other Ryde Town Councillors to establish a youth service in 2017 after IW Council’s then Conservative administration cut the Island-wide service. This service has gone from strength to strength and received over £750,000 from the Government’s Youth Investment Fund to renovate St. Thomas’s Church in Ryde to be developed into a new innovative youth and community centre Network Ryde | Youth Cafe

Mental Health

Making Mental Health a Priority issue at IW Council and Ryde Town Council

I am currently IW Council Mental Health Champion and have been lead in establishing with IWC Public Health Department an annual grant fund for peer support community grassroots projects with 28 projects being supported to establish and grow.

Poverty

Championing Awareness of Child Poverty on the Isle of Wight

I have held an annual poverty awareness day (around Pancake Day each year) since 2016, and yearly bring this issue to the fore at IW Council. I have raised funds for food projects totalling over £12,000.

Community

Isle of Wight Community Action

Current Trustee.

Dover Park Primary School

Former Governor.

Community Development

Community Development

I successfully campaigned for community development to be actively established in Ryde, especially throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ryde now has a full-time Community Development worker and Community Forum.

Ryde Community Development Trust

Founder Member of local East Wight charity, and current Chair.

I work with other stakeholders in its establishment.

Isle of Wight Community Forum

Current Chair.

Carnivals and Festivals

I have supported and helped to grow the number of annual carnivals and festivals in Ryde which have doubled over the past 5 years. Community Art and Carnivals have been at the heart of community spirit and celebration.

Achievements as an Elected Ryde Councillor

As a local Ryde Councillor since 2016 and Mayor of Ryde for 4 years (2019-23)

I enabled and led Ryde Town Council to establish itself as what is referred to as a “super” parish and town council, being the largest populated town on the Island.

The council now has a strong staff infrastructure, a corporate and place plan that has enabled the town to:

Attract major investment.

Tackle local issues of disadvantage and deprivation.

Bring derelict and empty buildings back into operation.

Create a bespoke youth service and develop a major youth and community centre.

Celebrate its heritage.

Survive Covid19 with a strong future even in the context of the cost-of-living crisis.

I believe this model provides a template and basis for growth and development across the new East Wight Constituency and the Isle of Wight as a whole.

A founder of the flat-pack democracy Our Ryde movement.

I have been active in getting residents directly involved in the community, and the Our Ryde movement was successful in getting 9 Ryde residents elected to Ryde Town Council in 2021.

Founder of the Ryde Community Forum.

I have championed the importance of community development.

Island-wide community virtual forum during the Covid19 pandemic.

I was instrumental in the Island-wide community virtual forum having previously created a template with the Ryde Community Forum.

Since 2016 I have supported local resident groups in East Wight to fight against over-development.

Isle of Wight Political History

2016
First elected by residents of Ryde East ward (now Ryde Appley and Elmfield) to be their Ryde Town Councillor.

2017
Elected by Ryde East residents to be their Councillor on both the Isle of Wight Council and Ryde Town Council.

2019 – 2023
Mayor of Ryde, the largest populated town on the Isle of Wight.

2021
Elected to represent the newly created ward of Ryde Appley and Elmfield, again for both Isle of Wight and Ryde Town Councils.

Since 2017
I have had a variety of senior positions at IW Council including Deputy Chair of IW Council, Deputy Chairs of Corporate Scrutiny and Audit Committees, and Chair of Planning Committee.

I am currently Chair of the Policy and Scrutiny Committee for Health and Social Care, and the IW Council’s Mental Health Champion.

Political Beliefs, Community Activism, Humanitarianism and Environmentalist

I was very influenced by my father, Professor Geoffrey Lilley, who was Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Southampton University. Geoffrey died in Ryde in 2015 aged 96. He was a strong believer in Social Justice and campaigned on many human rights issues during his lifetime. He believed in equality and afair deal for everyone and had a strong love of the environment. This also came from other members of my family, their friends, and particularly my mother.

I first became aware of and involved in politics in 1974 whilst in my last year at Bembridge School (within the new East Wight constituency) and met Stephen Ross who was elected as a Liberal MP that year. Bembridge School had been founded in 1920 by a radical Liberal MP, John Whitehouse.

This experience has always remained with me and established a life-long belief in community engagement, involvement and humanitarianism. I was never actively involved in politics until my professional retirement in 2016/17 due to always being employed directly or indirectly through Local Authorities, NHS or Central Government principally in the voluntary sector.

I voted for and supported the Liberal Democrats from 1974 to 2010 but did not fully agree with the Coalition Government, and for a short period moved my allegiance to the Green Party, and then subsequently on the Isle of Wight stood as non-determined candidate on my name only. I joined the Liberal Democrats in 2023, which has brought me back to my original beliefs, founded over 50 years ago.

If I have a model of what an MP should emulate it would be Stephen Ross MP. My memory of him was of a kind, community engaged people’s champion who could engage with everyone. He showed that as an MP you did not have to be in power to achieve, and his private member’s bill, the Homeless Act 1977, is still relevant today.

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