Cllr Ward unable to answer basic questions on Floating Bridge replacement

Cllr Ian Ward, who receives an additional £7k+ a year as the Isle of Wight council Cabinet member and whose responsibilities specifically include the floating bridge, was unable to answer basic questions about the replacement service. Full details of the interview within.

ian ward

Last Friday, following the Isle of Wight council’s decision to remove the new floating bridge from service, Paul Topping at Isle of Wight Radio managed to grab a ten minute interview with Cllr Ian Ward, the Cabinet member for Transport.

The decision to suspend the floating bridge had a mixed response from Islanders, but for those who rely on the bridge to cross the Medina for work, school or shopping, the greatly reduced foot passenger service being provided caused outrage (no service between 10am-1pm weekdays or after 7pm Mon-Thur, as well as no service between 10am-5pm Sat/Sun).

Ward: Ebb tide “only just come to light”
Cllr Ward explained the reason for taking the bridge out of service was due to the “the water height above the chains at ebb tide”.

He claims the ebb tide issue only came to light last week – this is despite a floating bridge being in operation at the site for 158 years. The Cowes Harbour Commission lodged a formal complaint last month.

Should passengers pay?
Given the reduced service, Paul asks whether Cllr Ward thought foot passengers should pay. The Cabinet member replied,

“My personal opinion is that it probably would be unfair, but I will have to check that.”

One week later and the Isle of Wight Council (IWC) are still charging foot passengers to use the reduced launch service.

An embarrassment
When suggested by Paul that the floating bridge had been introduced into service with a fanfare, but then became an embarrassment for the Island, making the Island look totally incompetent, Cllr Ward replied,

“That might be your interpretation.”

The issues have been highlighted in the local, regional and national press.

Reduced passenger service
Paul went on to raise the concerns of those working on shift patterns, parents wanting to collect children from school and others, who will be affected by the reduced passenger launch service.

When asked why the IWC weren’t providing the same service with the Jenny Boat they had before, Cllr Ward – the Cabinet member for transport – replied,

“I can’t answer that question, but I will find out and let you know Paul, OK?”

Cllr Ward excuses his lack of knowledge on the fact that “he doesn’t run the daily operation”.

Residents paying for someone else’s mistake?
Paul suggested the residents of East and West Cowes were being punished for somebody else’s mistake.

Cllr Ward said,

“We are trying to do the best we can, we literally can’t do more than that.”

He went on to claim that finances, “and that”, was not their first consideration. Leader of the IWC, Cllr Dave Stewart, had previously stated when announcing the reduced passenger service, “I also need to look to the council’s financial position”.

Ward: Floating Bridge “effectively” handed back
In the interview, Cllr Ward explained the “crew and the staff have been working hard to solve the problems” with the manufacturers, “there have been snagging works, all sorts of stuff”.

He went on to explain,

“We’ve got to the point now where we have two problems that are affecting the consistency of the service and nobody seems to want to take responsibility. From the agencies they are are all sort of pointing the finger at each other.”

Cllr Ward added that the council had “effectively” handed the floating bridge back. He doesn’t say whether that’s to the designer or the manufacturer, but once “they” have sorted the problems out, the IWC will take it back.

Ward: “Whoever is responsible is not the issue at the moment”
Paul suggested that someone had messed up on an epic scale, to which Cllr Ward appeared to try and shift the blame onto the previous Island Independent administration.

When he was checked on that by Paul – who pointed out that it was not councillors who were involved in drawing up the plans – Cllr Ward quickly makes the point that “whoever is responsible is not the issue at the moment”.

Ignorant of the facts
When challenged as not knowing very much about the situation, Cllr Ward excuses himself by saying that Cabinet members deal with policy, but that officers have been briefing him on what is happening on a daily basis, suggesting this has only happened in the last couple of days.

Cllr Ward didn’t reference the four+ months wait for the new service at the beginning of the year, and the three+ months of on-off service since May.

Listen yourself
To listen the interview in full, head over to the Isle of Wight Radio Website and scroll down the page to see the audio player.

Image: © With kind permission of Allan Marsh

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Friday, 8th September, 2017 11:25am



Filed under: Cowes, East Cowes, Island-wide, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News, North Wight, Top story

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14 Comments on "Cllr Ward unable to answer basic questions on Floating Bridge replacement"

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So there we have it,NOT MY FAULT GOV I NO NOTHING ABOUT IT, how can this man stay in position ,if the rest of the cabinet are as bad as CLLr Ward this Island is going to end up in a real bad way after 4 years of Tory rule


How can this unremitting and useless waste of money have so little knowledge of his own portfolio?

I do not believe it
This man Ward, does anyone have a biography of this gentleman? Does he, or did he have, a responsible job outside the IW Council? Did he, by any chance, read Pure and Applied Shiftiness at University? Is he a Freemason? Is Dave Stewart in the Craft? I think Mr Ward is in need of help. The brief sentence below should be easily copied by him and submitted… Read more »
Could it be because he thinks he’s safe in his seat and doesn’t need to give **** about his constituents? Or perhaps simply that he is a Conservative? We don’t need to look very far to find plenty of examples of Tories in positions of authority who are not fit for purpose. RESIGN Mr Ward – let someone else have a go. No-one could make a worse… Read more »
Fred Karno
The Council website lists all the declared interests of Councillors and they are required to declare if they are in freemasonry. Neither Cllrs. Ward and Stewart are freemasons. Having spoken to Cllr Ward in the past on traffic matters, I get the distinct impression that he is not a practical ‘nuts and bolts’ person, (not everyone is), and that he is in fact completely and utterly out… Read more »
Luisa Hillard
I don’t think that councillors have to declare freemasonry. I know that the Conservatives removed that by delegated decision prior to 2013 and that the Indies tried to bring it back in… but I don’t recall that we were successful, although we did get the majority of the Conservatives standing up to indicate that they were indeed members. None on our side. I don’t recall if Cllr… Read more »
Stephen Hendry

Declarations of interest still include freemasonry:

Company, industrial and provident society, charity, or body directed to charitable purposes (this will include Freemasonry)

Isn’t it time we put a stop to all this SACK those responsible without a “leave” golden goodbye and put people that know what they are doing in charge. The political elite have proven time and time again that they speak with fork tongues. Has any one asked for the related documents to be released into the public domain ? Then we can take an objective view… Read more »
Robert Jones
Listening to that was agony – even granted Mr Ward has been handed a very wet, very dead, and very smelly fish and invited to do something unspecified with it, I really don’t know how Paul Topping managed to stay polite. I stand to be corrected, but I think Ian Ward was an army officer in a previous life – presumably they don’t teach you a lot… Read more »

I for one Don’t care a fig who should have or didn’t do. FIX IT the bridge mad £250,000 profit before this debacle. Excessive charges imposed on the residents of East Cowes and Cowes residents have resulted in people not using the bridge. Interesting it was full when it was free


Speaking as a mainlander (well, Hayling Island – I’m glad we’ve got a bridge) my sympathies are with the IOW folk – they’ve been well and truly shafted by vested interests only seeking profit, and to heck with the General Public.

They should bite the bullet and go for a bridge (even if it is only single track, like the Haslar one which seems successful).