Call for no more ‘cloak and dagger’ approaches to Floating Bridge fixes

The long-running saga of the Cowes Floating Bridge was discussed at last night’s Isle of Wight council Scrutiny Committee. Details within

floating bridge suspended sign

The ‘Wight Elephant’ Cowes floating bridge could be back in action this month.

The service has been out of action for eight weeks, following problems found in routine maintenance in July.

Cllrs Karl Love, Lora Peacey-Wilcox and Julie Jones-Evans asked to bring the item to the the Isle of Wight Council’s Corporate Scrutiny Committee so a solution can be found and the council can move forward.

Love: No more cloak-and-dagger approaches
Cllr Love said a cross-party representation is needed to work on a quick solution.

He said:

“We do not need any more cloak-and-dagger approaches, we want a short-term response to fix this.”

The group urged bosses to meet with experts who had come forward and offered their help to move things along.

Cllr Dave Stewart, leader of the council, agreed to the meet with anyone who could help, but had to be careful about legal action being started.

Stewart: Vessel “hasn’t been fit for purpose as agreed”
Cllr Stewart said the common ground between the group was they wanted the situation to be resolved, providing a facility for people of the Island and maintaining it after the ‘lifeline service’ it provided during lockdown.

“In my view, this vessel hasn’t been fit for purpose as agreed in the contract. We are now proceeding with our legal process.

“There are two stages, the first stage is the mediation and discussions and then if that doesn’t resolve the situation we end up in court dealing with the actual costs involved.”

Ward: Hope to get the craft back in the water this month
Cllr Ian Ward, cabinet member for infrastructure and transport, said a number of hydraulic components were affected by the failure of one or two other components, which all had to be removed and stripped back.

He said:

“We are now looking at getting spares to repair those — and I find it difficult to believe myself — but those spares need to be manufactured.

“The manufacturers hope to achieve the repairs, and we hope to get the craft back in the water this month.”

Stewart: Our priority is getting the service on
Cllr Stewart confirmed the month, saying:

“If all goes well at the end of the month we will have that vessel back in the water doing what it was intended to do. Our priority is getting the service on.”

Schoolchildren face hour-long waits for passenger launch
According to Cllr Love, more problems had been arising this week as people try to cross the River Medina, with some schoolchildren being forced to face hour-long waits for the shuttle boat services on their way home.

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

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9 Comments on "Call for no more ‘cloak and dagger’ approaches to Floating Bridge fixes"

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But deception and keeping things hidden under the carper is the raison d’etre of all Conservative administrations, large and small.



Benny C

I prefer carper. Folks won’t even know where to look, let alone what to look for. Maybe Merstone Lakes!

Councillors Stewart and Ward are way behind the curve. The hydraulic problems are a ghastly sideshow to the main event, which is…the wretched vehicle has been shown to be completely wrong for the job it is supposed to have been designed to do and that should have been obvious from the outset. Whoever is responsible for ordering and purchasing this chronicly inappropriate thing was either terminally gullible… Read more »
Benny C

You’re almost certainly on the thread of why they’re beginning legal action. They’ll need to be careful how that’s orchestrated but if you’re right they’ll win. Contractors have to be allowed to make the noose.


The Floating bridge COULD be back by the end of the month according to the council, which is about as much useful info as claiming Pigs Might Fly. What we do know is within weeks after the floating bridge returns to service, is that it will be out of service.


Note, he didn’t say which month.

Benny C
Please please please can the Council ensure that Ian Ward is supervised and overseen by other Councillors when making important decisions, communications or interventions relating to this project. Sure, he must be held to account for the mess that happened in his team on his watch, but equally we should not be leaving important infrastructure and financial issues in the hands of someone who has repeatedly demonstrated… Read more »

Vessel back in the water? Is it coming out?