A bid to get the Island Deal for more government cash enshrined in law was rejected by Isle of Wight Conservative councillors last week.
Cllr Michael Lilley, of the opposition ‘1957 Group’, asked the full council to pursue a private members’ bill in parliament that would address the ‘historic disadvantage’ Isle of Wight residents face due to the physical separation from the mainland.
The Island Deal could potentially bring £6.4million to the Isle of Wight economy, according to the Conservatives.
This weeek Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed his commitment to an Island Deal – https://www.islandecho.co.uk/prime-minister-confirms-commitment-to-an-island-deal/.
Cllr Lilley brought a similar motion to the full council 2 years ago but due to the fact there is no deal still, he brought it back.
Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Lilley said:
“We have unique issues as an Island and we need more than promises.
“We need a long-term solution that will endure changes of Government and Brexit, empowering the Island to take control of its future with a clear identity.
“We should be starting more cross-party alliances and we need specific rights and social justice for the Island. We need legislation and we need an act of parliament.”
However, an amendment to the motion was made by the Conservative majority administration which welcomed the ongoing work of its leader and itself with the Island MP Bob Seely to ‘persuade ministers to address the historic underfunding’ and ‘pledges to continue to press the case’.
Before the amended motion was voted through Cllr Lilley withdrew it entirely.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Lilley said:
“They put an amendment down at the last moment, keeping it to what they are doing.
“I made my point — it wasn’t worth putting something forward that was going to be defeated. It was defeated two years ago but I will still carry on.
“I think we need legislation for social justice for future generations of Islanders, I will fight for that cause.”
Council leader Dave Stewart said he was worried if the private members’ bill had been defeated at the House of Lords it would potentially lose the Island Deal. He said:
“We took a more pragmatic approach. We know we have got to work with ministers and the government to secure our Island Deal which I am actively doing.
“What we have got to do is keep the pressure on and get people to deliver on what they said and get the best for the Island.
“I think we will get there but we have got to fight our corner because there is a lot of people who want money at the moment but we feel we have got a unique case and that’s my job to keep that pushing forward.”