THE majority Conservative Group at County Hall has tabled a motion for June’s Full Council meeting to agree that a series of one-off economic initiatives are developed over the coming months – with a particular focus in support of the visitor economy.

The motion, which will be debated by members on Wednesday 20th June, asks council officers to develop costed plans for a number of areas to complement existing work in support of the Island’s economy, jobs and tourism. It builds on the decision made at January’s Full Council meeting that further investment would be made during the course of the year as needs arose and resources allowed.

The series of proposals, which would be developed for the September budget review meeting, would be considered alongside the outcomes of the budget consultation process – which is taking place over the summer. Any final decisions to implement the initiatives would be made at this September meeting.

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Speaking following the publication of the motion, Council Leader Cllr David Pugh said: “These proposals build on the range of economic plans agreed by Full Council in January and February of this year. We have now placed a particular focus on tourism-related initiatives, to complement the recent decision to establish a Destination Management Organisation (DMO) to develop the Island’s visitor economy.

“As the motion acknowledges, we are only able to bring forward these plans for additional areas of investment due to healthy financial position the Council now finds itself in. The difficult decisions of the past 18 months mean we can release funding to support community-based initiatives that will contribute to the Island’s economic wellbeing. These further proposals sit alongside the existing decisions we have made to invest in tackling youth unemployment and support the development of our tourism economy.

“Whilst the Council is not able to reinstate areas of previous recurring expenditure, it is able to make use of the net savings achieved in 2011/12 to support ideas such as these. We are also pleased that this motion fulfils our commitment to develop ideas presented in alternative budget proposals earlier this year.”

Key elements of the proposals being published today include:

• Working with Job Centre Plus to improve access for unemployed Islanders to identify suitable job opportunities, such as providing meeting space in libraries and other public access points;
• Allocating capital investment for the supply of new beach huts in key locations;
• Inviting business associations to put forward ideas for enhancing public realm in their areas, which may include improved signage, information, street furniture de-cluttering;
• Maximising the benefits of the £4m grant for Sustainable Transport Access to Tourism;
• Developing a prospectus to hold a community-led “Celebrate Isle of Wight” weekend in 2013, at which local produce is available, which would be promoted as part of the Island’s tourism offer.

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Cllr Pugh added: “Whilst this list of initiatives is not exhaustive, we hope that they will receive positive feedback during the forthcoming budget consultation process and can be fully developed alongside any additional plans to support the growth of the local economy and the provision of jobs.”
The motion is on the agenda for the June Full Council meeting, which can found here:

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