Cllr Nick Stuart is putting forward a motion at tomorrow night’s IW Council meeting in support of pursuance of an Island Act. I will be seconding it and voting in favour.
Since I was elected as an IW Councillor since 2017, I have every year brought a similar motion and called for specific Island legislation as opposed to pursuance of an Island Deal.
The Conservative Government and the Conservative Party on the Isle of Wight have ignored the concept of getting a specific Island Act and talked continually about a deal.
This has never materialised although the University of Portsmouth Report (2016) clearly identified the Isle of Wight financially was £6M in deficit before a financial year begins compared to the mainland due to the reality of the Solent and being an Island.
6 years later this £6M is more likely to be £30M plus. An Island Deal is just a one-off and does not get to the root of the inequality of Island residents compared to their counterparts on the mainland. After 6 years we have only seen a trickle of funds, the odd £1 here and £1M there. Parliament has formed an all-party Islands forum which IW Council takes part in, and there is currently discussions with Government on assistance but as yet nothing has bared fruit.
However, the fares across the Solent have rocketed and even with 50% off for those travelling for NHS treatment have to pay a minimum of £32 one-way for travelling by car as they are not well-enough to travel as foot-passenger. Continually, Island residents have planning decisions based around legislation written for mainland England which does not translate into the reality of being an Island. The costs of our children’s services is significantly higher on the Island than those of a local authority on the mainland due to the costs of crossing the Solent. I have always argued that no deal does not get to grips of the Island’s problems and only legislation gets real and long-lasting change.
The IW Liberal Democratic Party have now come fully into support of the getting either a private member’s Bill or private Act through parliament and tomorrow night’s debate and vote is to get the current Alliance administration to officially get IW Council fully on board. It would be good to get the whole Council’s support. The below links give you a details of my campaign since 2017 for an Island Act.
The motion is as follows:
The Council believes that Isle of Wight Residents are unfairly and unequally treated by the UK Government compared to mainland residents.
Council recognises that the Island Forum provides a chance to raise these concerns that it is insufficient to ensure that the Isle of Wight gets the fair treatment it deserves.
Council believes a legislative solution would ensure that the Isle of Wight secures equitable treatment that is long-lasting. Such legislation should include, but not limited to, a system to deliver.
- Fair funding to Isle of Wight and other public services
- Fair approaches for cross-Solent services by way of regulation, service obligation and government subsidy
- Equal health services on the Island that maximises opportunities for local treatment and minimises the need for residents to travel to the mainland
The Council will take all steps necessary to pursue central Government to deliver a fair outcome for the Island.