The new Leader of the Isle of Wight Council, Conservative Councillor Dave Stewart, has expressed his ‘profound disappointment’ that attempts to get all parties working together has been ignored by many Island Councillors.
On Wednesday a cross-party group (led by just 13 Conservatives of the Island’s 40 councillors) was voted in to shoulder the burden of running the Council, following the shocking and disgraceful resignation 2 days earlier of the former Leader and Deputy, Cllrs Jonathan Bacon and Steve Stubbings, and, in recent days, by several of their colleagues.
A majority of councillors voted for an alternative administration to replace them after the ruling ‘Island Independent’ group fell apart. During the meeting Cllr Stewart issued a plea to councillors of all political persuasions to work together in the few weeks remaining before local government elections in May and invited them to contact him if they were interested in doing so.
Cllr Stewart has commented:
“My attempts to persuade Councillors to put differences aside for a short while for the good of the Island has fallen on many deaf ears. I’ve heard nothing from the overwhelming majority of Island Independents, Labour and Lib Dem Members.
“The belligerent and childish behaviour of a few members at the full council meeting embarrassed the public and other Councillors and caused the Chairman to apologise to the press and public present. I subsequently had conversations with a few Island Independents one of whom expressed an interest in being considered for an executive position but subsequently declined for reasons which I understand. Councillor Lumley had chosen not to come forward and that is a matter for him. I hope he and others will nevertheless look to work collectively for the good of the Island in the remaining few weeks of this current council but that is their decision”.
Cllr Stewart added:
“The previous leader and his deputy simply walked away because of the deep divisions within their own party and apparently without even informing their own group. After almost four years of so-called Independent decision making, a cross-party alliance must now urgently set a budget, within the financial situation we find ourselves inheriting.
“We have just seven days to get this preparation (which usually takes six months) done and know we have a legal obligation to do so. It’s a huge challenge, but we must step up and deal with the dreadful situation we are confronted with.
“I thank all the members of my own party, and others with different political views who have already agreed to step up to the mark.
“We will take the necessary action and I will provide the leadership the Island needs and expects at this difficult time”.