In his response, Cllr Pugh accuses the Ventnor Town council of ‘hysterical scaremongering’ and ‘wild inaccuracies’ in their statement published last week. What follows is Cllr Pugh’s unedited response to John Medland. Ed
Thank you for your letter.
I fear that you may have been taken in by the hysterical scaremongering which has been put out by Ventnor Town Council, and we are in the process of correcting the wild inaccuracies in their various pronouncements on this matter.
The letter you have sent me has been copied it to a wide range of individuals and organisations, including the media, without checking your facts first. As a result your letter is inaccurate on a number of counts and it is disappointing that in copying your letter so widely that you have misled all of those copied into your email. Although I appreciate that checking your facts first would not help you to create headlines with the media you copied this to. Why let the facts get in the way of a good story, eh?
It is particularly disappointing that you have chosen to issue this to the media without giving any apparent thought to those affected by what is a staffing matter that is currently under consultation.
The director of economy and environment is currently consulting staff on restructuring the directorate to ensure that it is fit for purpose and sustainable over the coming months. This takes into account that some of the responsibilities currently in this service area will be delivered under the Highways PFI contract in the near future.
Your statement that the decision was made by four officers with no right of appeal or a hearing is entirely inaccurate. No decision has yet been taken. The proposed restructure is following our agreed processes and consultation with staff is currently underway. The final structure will only be published once the consultation is complete and the views of staff taken into consideration. All employment rights are being and will continue to be met throughout this process.
It is nonsense to suggest that the internal staffing structure of the Council, now or in the future, has any bearing on the ability of householders to obtain insurance. Under the proposals currently being consulted on, the ability of the Council to monitor the Island’s coastline is intended to be enhanced rather than reduced. This is one of the facts you failed to check before issuing your inflammatory letter to the media.
Despite your ill-informed assertion, no decision as to the structure of the coastal management team has yet been taken, however when it is taken it will be a matter for the senior management of the Council to determine the most suitable structure and for members to satisfy themselves that the Council will continue to be able to deliver its priorities in an efficient and effective manner. Notwithstanding the fact that there may well be changes following the consultation process, we are satisfied that the proposed structure will ensure that the coastal management function will be resilient, effective and efficient in the future.
Whilst touching on the priorities of the Council in this respect, I would like to remind you of the fact that – thanks to this administration’s decision to accept a Highways PFI Grant from the Government – a number of roads around the Island, including many in coastal locations such as the Military Road, Bouldnor Road and the Undercliff, will benefit from stabilisation schemes over the next few years. These stabilisation schemes form part of our wider efforts to tackle the very issues which the Coastal Management function oversees.
Given the scale of the considerable improvements that will come into place as a result of the Highways PFI scheme, there is no doubt in my mind that the positive impact of such stabilisation schemes is of far greater significance to the future of the Island (and its coastline) than how the IW Council chooses to organise its internal staffing structure. The administration I lead recognises this because we are less interested in the finer detail of internal structures and more interested in getting on with the job through much-needed schemes such as these.
If you agree, I suggest that your concern in this respect should be more appropriately directed at those IW Councillors who voted against (or refused to support) the Highways PFI scheme (including some copied into your email) – as if their efforts had succeeded our roads (many by the coastline) would have missed out on these many significant improvements that are now due to come into place. If you would a like a list of these councillors, I will happily provide it to you – as you may wish to raise with them why they voted against investment in stabilisation schemes that are of critical importance to the future of the Island.
Kind regards, David
Cllr David Pugh | Leader of the Isle of Wight Council