By nature, small islands are isolated from the rest of the world, making travel expensive.
Cllr Michael Lilley (IW Councillor for Ryde East), a veteran Island Act campaigner, highlights how the cost of travelling across the Solent affects Island residents every day in many ways and he is calling for the need for an Isle of Wight Act.
He has put forward a motion at the Isle of Wight Council’s February meeting calling the Council to support starting the work to campaign for legislation that gives the Island better recognition, Island status and powers to create a better future.
There are evidenced disadvantages of living on an island including social and geographical isolation, a lack of employment and educational opportunities, transportation problems and small community challenges.
What the Act would follow
Cllr Lilley argues that a comprehensive Island Act that covers planning, housing, education, employment and economic development, environment, travel to mainland/ferry costs, borrowing, investment and parity/equality between Island residents and mainland neighbours is the sensible way forward.
Cllr Lilley’s Motion calls on the IW Council
- To recognise the continuing financial economic impact of the physical separation from the UK mainland on Isle of Wight public service as stated by Portsmouth University and the resulting disadvantage to IW residents.
- To pursue legislation that tackles this historic disadvantage through a comprehensive Island Bill/Act that gives Island residents parity with UK mainland counterparts by engaging with its IW MP and IW Representatives in the House of Lords to pursue a private members bill.
To share a dream and vision
Councillor Lilley states:
“I wish on Wednesday 26th February 2020 at the Isle of Wight council meeting to stand up and address all 40 of Isle of Wight Councillors, not through their political identity, but purely as Island residents.
“I wish to share a dream and vision that with perseverance, grit, determination and courage we as a united Island, could develop a substantive Isle of Wight Bill, we could campaign for support in the House of Commons and Lords to get this bill through Parliament, we could win over the Government to support it, see it develop into an Act of Parliament and see the barriers we are facing within our new legislative powers resolved.
“It is a long road, but we can start this journey to Island Identity and Self-Determination on the 26th February 2020.”
Disadvantages of being an Island
There is clear evidence that the Isle of Wight is different to any other County in England, but the Isle of Wight is treated in all aspects as the same and the Solent does not exist.
Portsmouth University has evidenced the annual deficit the IW Council faces of £6.4M annually compared to mainland authorities.
Just an Island Deal of £6.4M, IWC would not have to face the level of cuts and savings it endures every year such as the IW Council 20/21 Budget.
Giving young people a “substantive future”
Cllr Lilley will present a range of evidence that only having an Island Law which recognises and tackles young Islanders inequality will give them a substantive future.
This evidence includes the Social Mobility Commission’s study (2017) which revealed that just 14% of youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds from the Isle of Wight go on to university or other higher education. This is compared with 53% in Westminster, the highest proportion in England.
Social mobility barriers high in rural areas
The report found that the worst performing areas for social mobility are no longer inner city areas, but remote rural and coastal areas, and former industrial areas.
Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds living in these areas face far higher barriers than young people growing up in cities and their surrounding areas.
Cllr Lilley argues that the expense of ferry fares just aggravates this disadvantage further.
Lilley: “We need an Act of Parliament!”
Cllr Lilley further states:
“We go from year to year hoping the UK Government recognises Isle of Wight as an Island and we have unique issues as an Island.
“We need more than promises.
“We need a long-term solution that can endure changes of Government and Brexit.
“We need a solution that would empower the Island to take control of its destiny and future. We need a clear Island Identity.
“We need a New Island Movement of Residents standing for change, equality and social justice.
“We need an Island campaign.
“We need specific rights and social justice as residents of an Island divided by the sea from mainland UK.
“We need legislation.
“We need an Act of Parliament!”