THE five Isle of Wight councillors whose wards were most immediately affected by the gridlock caused by cars trying to reach the Festival last week have today issued a request that the Council work with the organisers and other agencies involved to find out what went wrong and to ensure such disruption on the roads never happens again.
The councillors, Dawn Cousins (Newport North), Julie Jones-Evans (Newport Central), Edward Giles (Whippingham and Osborne), Barry Abraham (Wootton Bridge) and Margaret Webster (East Cowes), have written to the Council’s Director of Economy and Environment, Stuart Love, asking that the Scrutiny Panel should examine the outcome of the discussions and give their view on any recommendations proposed.
The councillors say, “We consider that the seriousness of the issues affecting our residents needs to be subject to formal scrutiny in the public arena.”
The councillors say they strongly support Councillor George Brown who yesterday reiterated the Council’s support for the Festival, warned against soundbites and kneejerk reactions and called for a calm measured approach to the problems that arose last week.
A copy of the councillors’ letter to Mr Love is set out below.
IW Festival Disruption
We are writing as the IW Councillors for some of the electoral divisions most affected by the unacceptable level of disruption on the public highway which occurred last Thursday and Friday.
First, we welcome the sentiments and sympathy expressed in Cllr George Brown’s recent statement, in which he made clear the Council’s intentions to sit down with the organisers and partners to confirm exactly what went wrong, and why.
The purpose of this note is to request that the outcome of the Council’s deliberations in this regard is brought before a meeting of the Economy & Environment Scrutiny Panel in the coming months, with recommendations for steps to ensure what took place never happens again.
We consider that the seriousness of the issues affecting our residents needs to be subject to formal scrutiny in the public arena, to demonstrate that the Council is taking these issues seriously.
We would also wish to be given the opportunity at this Scrutiny Panel meeting to speak on behalf of our residents and offer a view about the recommendations being proposed. This note is being copied to the Chairman of that Panel, Cllr Wayne Whittle, as part of this request.
It is worth stressing that we remain supportive of the IW Festival and the clear benefits it brings to the Island. Many of the residents we represent attended the event and no doubt thoroughly enjoyed it. Those residents who did not attend are largely tolerant of an acceptable level of disruption, as they have done so for the past decade. But last week’s disruption took it to an unacceptable level – hence why the Council now needs to act.
We hope that by taking a report to the Scrutiny Panel, this process can be undertaken in a constructive and transparent manner which focuses on what needs to be done. It would certainly be our intention to contribute to this process in a form which assists towards an outcome that is to the benefit of residents, festival attendees and the local economy.
We would welcome the opportunity to input into this process at any early stage, so if it is helpful we can provide feedback from residents about their difficulties, to contribute to your review in advance of such a Scrutiny Panel meeting.
With best wishes
Cllr Dawn Cousins (Newport North)
Cllr Julie Jones-Evans (Newport Central)
Cllr Edward Giles (Whippingham & Osborne)
Cllr Margaret Webster (East Cowes)
Cllr Barry Abraham (Wootton Bridge)