In papers released this week, ahead of a meeting of the Isle of Wight Council’s Scrutiny Committee next Tuesday, a report notes that “there were no issues with the approach taken to procurement, tendering and contracting” in respect of the Cowes Floating Bridge, which operates between East Cowes and Cowes.
Jonathan Bacon, former leader of the Isle of Wight Council, has said:
“As someone who has been subjected to continual brickbats from the current Council about the Cowes Floating Bridge, I read the report published on Monday with interest.
“The report makes it clear that, wherever the fault for the ongoing failures in respect of the Floating Bridge lies, it does not rest with the Administration I led between 2015 – 2017.
“In addition to the conclusion set out in paragraph 77, stating that there are no issues in relation to those processes that occurred while the Independents led the Council, the body of the report also makes it clear that all that activity was, in any event, undertaken by Council Officers.
“The only exception to this is in paragraph 35. This notes that the contract award was ratified through an officer decision record signed on 27 January 2016 made by the Chief Executive as the responsible officer, although this was done following consultation with the then Executive member for Regeneration, Economy and Public Transport.
“I do note with concern that there is big gap in the report in that it says nothing about the process of taking delivery of the Floating Bridge or the process of putting it into service. After dealing with the contracting process, in paragraph 61, the report jumps straight to ‘Issues since entering Service’. It seems odd to me that this part of the history has not been dealt with in the report, however these are all matters that occurred under the current Conservative Administration.”
Speaking about the current situation, Jonathan says:
“It is very sad that the saga of the Floating Bridge has not been resolved. The Independent Administration found the money to obtain a new vessel and instigated the process of acquiring it. The new report makes it clear there was no issue with what was done in this regard. It has been rightly pointed out that some practices could be improved upon, but the Independent Administration followed the processes then in place that they inherited from the previous Conservative Council. I just hope that we can now get away from the continual arguments and accusations and as much effort can be put into the much more important process of securing a functioning and reliable service for the people who need it.”