Angry residents confronted the Isle of Wight Council leader at a public meeting last night (Thursday) to discuss the St Mary’s Roundabout works.
Around 40 people attended the meeting, hosted by the council at Medina Theatre, which included a presentation on the project followed by a question and answer session.
Stewart: Add 15 minutes to your journey
Council leader Cllr Dave Stewart had previously advised people to ‘add 15 minutes’ to their journey time.
In response to people complaining about delays last night, he described the roadworks as ‘managed disruption.’
Cannot build without disruption
Kevin Burton, Island Roads’ network manager, said the roadworks would cause minimum disruption. He said:
“We cannot possibly build and design a scheme like this without causing disruption.”
Angry residents directed questions at the panel, which included transport cabinet member Cllr Ian Ward, about a lack of pedestrian routes, school fines for lateness — and a potential criminal record — for parents stuck in traffic and a lack of public consultation.
One resident said she was ‘insulted’ the council had not communicated with more people prior to the work starting.
Stewart: Residents “not obliged to stay and listen to the answers”
In an exchange between the pair, Cllr Stewart said he could not change the past.
He said he had attended the meeting to respond to questions, but told the woman she was not obliged to stay and listen to the answers.
Rowland: Part of wider scheme
Colin Rowland, the council’s director of neighbourhoods, reiterated the £6.5 million project was part of a wider £9.6 million scheme to improve the traffic flow through Newport.
“As every Islander knows, all roads lead to Newport. There is no silver bullet for Coppins Bridge. There isn’t really a design to fix it unless you spend millions of pounds.
“This work will be to get people away from Coppins Bridge and improve the overall experience of getting to Newport.”
Price: Coppins Bridge the ‘elephant in the room’
Cllr Matthew Price, ward councillor for Newport North and a vocal critic of the scheme, said the ‘elephant in the room’ had been overlooked once again — arguing most of the town’s traffic problems could be fixed if Coppins Bridge was remodelled.
“From the start, I have been against this scheme. There is no cure for it unless you switch the lights off at Coppins Bridge but keep the pedestrian crossings on. People know how to drive, it would work.”
Stewart: “I don’t think we have got it wrong”
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Stewart responded to complaints the council had failed to communicate with Islanders about the project.
“The communication plan that was set out to deal with all of this, be it social media, a letter, or the website, was more than has been done on a lot of things.
“I don’t think we have got it wrong, I have nothing to hide. We made a decision to do something, not everyone is going to agree.
“We are engaging with our community and getting some feedback because, at the end of the day, we work for the community.”
The St Mary’s scheme, to rip up the roundabout and replace it with traffic light-controlled junctions, started at the end of September. The project is expected to take 15 months to complete.
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some alterations and additions may be been made by OnTheWight. Ed