Representatives from the Isle of Wight Council, alongside Andrew Turner, met Minister for Transport John Hayes MP on Tuesday to take forward the proposal to establish an independently chaired Transport Infrastructure Taskforce.
The purpose of the meeting was to agree how the Government’s already expressed support for the initiative could be put into practice. The plans were endorsed unanimously by the Council in November 2014, following a debate in the House of Commons led by the Island’s MP in October last year.
The new Taskforce will be required to examine all aspects and modes of transport services currently operating on the Island and connecting with the mainland, consider proposals for change, and to make recommendations where appropriate to improve services, lower costs and improve connectivity both between the Island and the mainland as well as across the Island.
The Minister wholeheartedly threw his weight behind the initiative and said that he would assist both in terms of providing expertise and advice, supporting funding applications based on a sound business case and also assist in sourcing an appropriate independent Chairman. He paid tribute to the Island’s MP for his tenacity in following up on the plans, which grew from proposals discussed over the last year or so to move Island Line into community ownership. He also expressed his willingness to meet with key parties, including the ferry companies to see how best the Government could help move things forward.
Cllr Shirley Smart, the Council’s Executive Member for Tourism and the Economy said :
“I welcome the important commitments the Minister has made to assisting with the development of the Island Infrastructure Task Force and the positive and open approach dialogue we had about the project. It was especially pleasing that the Minister recognised the important link between the quality of the whole transport infrastructure and the Island’s economic prosperity.
“It was apparent that the support of the whole Council aligned to that of the Island’s MP, Andrew Turner was an important factor in securing the support offered by the Minister.
“I look forward to continuing to work closely with colleagues across the Isle of Wight Council and with Andrew Turner to make the most of this important support being offered for the benefit of the Island”.
Mr Turner added:
“I am delighted that this initiative which is truly an all Island proposal has found such a favourable supporter in the form of John Hayes MP, the Minister responsible at the Department of Transport. We plan, with the help of the Department for Transport to make significant progress towards establishing the taskforce quickly and we will be consulting and communicating widely as the composition and terms of reference become more closely defined.”
Next week Mr Turner and Isle of Wight Council representatives will be meeting Claire Perry MP, the Rail Minister to discuss more detail on the proposals for Island Line.