Following a pause in campaigning in recognition of the sad passing of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, the 39-strong team of Conservative candidates will – over the coming weeks – be sharing their priorities for both their local areas and the Island as a whole.
All Conservative candidates will be undertaking twice-weekly rapid response COVID-19 tests ahead of delivering leaflets to households across the Island. A decision has been made not to knock on doors at any time during the campaign, but Conservative candidates are happy to speak to voters outside – whilst maintaining social distancing.
Launching the campaign, Councillor Dave Stewart, the Conservative Leader of the Isle of Wight Council, says:
“Over the past four years, we have steered the local authority – and the Island – through some challenging times, particularly over the past 12 months.
“When we took office in 2017, we inherited a dysfunctional council with “independent” councillors having depleted reserves and refusing to set a budget for the ensuing year. We have now been able to set five lawful, balanced budgets – and ensure a responsible approach is taken regarding the management of public finances.
“Looking to the future, we are focused on continuing to lead the Island to safe, strong recovery from the pandemic – and help get our local economy back on its feet. With 75% of adult Islanders having now received the first dose of the vaccine – and Step 2 of the roadmap out of lockdown now in place – we can look forward to better times ahead.
“We are committed to serving the Isle of Wight as a whole. Other parties may claim to take an interest in our entire Island, but the lack of their candidates standing in a number of key locations suggests that they consider some areas less important than others. Labour and the Liberal Democrats are not even defending seats that they won last time. In contrast, the Conservatives are willing to represent every corner of the Island, as we consider that all communities – every town, village and hamlet – are equally important and should be given the opportunity to represented by us.”
Speaking following the close of nominations last week, Councillor Stewart said:
“Looking at the number of candidates put forward by each political party or grouping, it is evident that only the Conservatives (with 39 candidates) and Labour (with 28) are in a position to secure a majority to lead the Isle of Wight Council.
“The Island therefore faces a clear choice: between: (1) a Conservative administration comprised of both existing, experienced councillors and new candidates bringing fresh input, and (2) a Labour-led council made up entirely of new and untested councillors. Like in a General Election, this allows voters to choose between two competing visions and personnel to lead the Island over the next four years.
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“We are delighted to offer the Isle of Wight a strong, diverse team – with a 60 year age range between the youngest and the eldest, and more female candidates than any other party.
“Furthermore, our new candidates will – if elected – bring a wide range of experiences to the Isle of Wight Council, including a dementia charity adviser, a former policewoman, a care worker, a baker, a retired headteacher, a town mayor, a business management consultant, financial advisers, students, a recent graduate, an office manager, a retired prison officer, a care home catering manager, a finance director, a hospitality worker, an engineer, a litigation consultant, a digital communications manager and a retired barrister, amongst others.
“With these backgrounds, we are confident that our team – as a whole – offer a uniquely strong skillset to bolster the Conservative Group at County Hall, helping us provide a combined, united leadership to the Isle of Wight Council which is representative of the Island at large.”
The Conservatives have released the an 18-point plan for the future of the Isle of Wight, grouped under 6 key themes:
- Lead the Island to a safe, strong recovery from the pandemic;
- Protect the Island’s natural beauty, whilst delivering housing for Islanders and regeneration;
- Boost the Island’s connectivity – physically and digitally;
- Support the future of the Island’s children and young people;
- Improve health, wellbeing and safety for all Islanders;
- Strong leadership to attract funding, investment and growth.
The full plan, which sits alongside the Isle of Wight specific pledges from Donna Jones, the Conservative candidate for Police & Crime Commissioner, can be viewed/downloaded by clicking here. All Isle of Wight households will receive a copy of this double-page spread within every Conservative candidate’s leaflet.
Speaking in support of the campaign, the Island’s MP Bob Seely said:
“Over the past four years, I have worked closely with the Conservative leadership at County Hall to help secure investment in the Island — including £48m extra for the NHS and over £50m for upgrades to transport infrastructure.
“We are now set to receive millions for the IoW College; and — with the Isle of Wight Council — I am preparing a strong bid for post-Brexit funds, to help revitalise our town centres and coastal communities. This is in addition to ongoing work to ensure the Island gets a good deal in the Fair Funding Review (which has regrettably been delayed by the pandemic).
“I would urge all Islanders – particularly those who voted for me in the 2019 General Election – to support your local Conservative candidate in the Isle of Wight Council elections, along with Donna Jones for Police & Crime Commissioner.
“We need a strong Conservative Team on the Council, continuing to join forces with me to coherently make our case to the Conservative Government.
“Working together, we can achieve so much more — including our efforts to protect the Island’s countryside and prioritise brownfield sites to provide homes for Island families.”