A councillor has hit out at the Isle of Wight Council leader’s regeneration ideas calling them too little, too late.
In a tweet sent last week, Councillor Dave Stewart tweeted: “We need to regenerate our county town, ideas to follow” and tagged the Isle of Wight Conservative group.
Bringing the tweet up in leader’s questions yesterday, Councillor Geoff Brodie, Newport East representative, asked whether Cllr Stewart was ashamed of his tweet, given that the Conservatives have been in power, with Cllr Stewart at the reins, since 2017.
Cllr Geoff Brodie said:
“Does [Cllr Stewart] not think that suggesting ideas will follow at this late stage in the administrations is an indictment of how little this council has achieved in terms of regenerating not only Newport, but the rest of the Isle of Wight?”
Cllr Stewart said he wasn’t ashamed of the tweet and highlighted ‘a great deal of things they were doing for Newport’, including the harbour masterplan and recently approved Harbour Revision Order, funding secured from the historic town funds and highway improvements, like St Mary’s junction.
“I feel we are doing a great deal for Newport. I would support any councillor who wants to see Newport reinvigorated after this awful pandemic and I can assure him if I sit in this chair in a few months’ time, he will have my full support on that.”
Since the pandemic started, multiple national chains such as Topshop, Prezzo and Pizza Express, as well as other shops on the High Street and around Newport, have disappeared as the longer term effects of COVID and the subsequent lockdown have effected the economy.
With empty holes now dotting the High Street, a number of initiatives have been proposed by local communities, which included pop-up shops over Christmas selling Island-made products.
However, there have still been calls to do more, including providing free parking in Newport for a certain amount of time to encourage shoppers into the county town.