Next week the Isle of Wight Council’s Corporate Scrutiny Committee will be receiving the highly anticipated update on the Cowes Floating Bridge.
Despite repeated warnings these last four years from professional engineers and Islanders, the Isle of Wight Council continues to waste money on Floating Bridge 6, even after voting to raise council taxes.
Local councillors have condemned the Council’s leadership’s latest attempt to explain their way out of what went wrong with the floating bridge, and that the Council continues to ignore sound, engineering advice.
Peacey-Wilcox: Provided bulletproof engineering evidence
Isle of Wight councillor for Cowes Medina Cllr Lora Peacey-Wilcox said,
“For four years, I and others councillors around the Medina have tried to work with the current leadership and provided bulletproof engineering evidence that this floating bridge was not fit for purpose.
“Instead, the council has wasted almost another floating bridge’s worth of money on it, and it still doesn’t offer a reliable and frequent crossing.”
The chairman of the Isle of Wight Council Scrutiny Committee has prepared documents discussing the floating bridge for the Scrutiny Committee meeting on Tuesday, 9th March.
Palin: A dysfunctional floating bridge and a financial black hole
Cllr Cameron Palin, East Cowes town councillor for Osborne, said,
“These Scrutiny documents cover old ground, repeating the same old story with holes in it, and do not address why for the last four years the Conservative leadership have chosen to waste millions on this bridge, against engineers’ advice.
“The Council appears to have hidden behind a legal case for four years now. We have not heard anywhere in these Scrutiny documents that the Council is promising to get full financial compensation, ie the many millions that have been spent on Floating Bridge 6. Unless the Council gets the millions back, we potentially could be left with a dysfunctional floating bridge and a financial black hole.”
Palin: FB6 out of action more than 20 per cent of the time
“We need a new floating bridge that is as frequent and available as Floating Bridge 5 and that doesn’t continue to cost the taxpayers money. Four years down the ‘river’, we have a floating bridge that’s out of action more than 20 per cent of the time, has long wait times, and continues to wreck local businesses and the economy as a whole.
“We’re tired of the Council’s posturing and their weak and often incorrect excuses, and their refusals to have done proper unbiased independent engineering audits of the whole floating bridge. It’s severely long overdue that the Council listen to the many engineers who have shown them that the hydraulics were going to fail, and a long list of technical problems, stemming from early on.”
Palin: Unbiased independent engineering audits needed
Cllr Palin finished by saying,
“Non-engineers such as a consulting company do a limited procurement review only – and the Council reviewing itself – are not what has been needed: proper, unbiased independent engineering audits and scrutiny of engineering technical documents.
“Floating Bridge 6 also costs more to run and will add up to a lot of taxpayer money unnecessarily being spent over the next 25 years.”
Peacey-Wilcox: No declared fallback position
Cllr Peacey-Wilcox added,
“There is no declared plan in these documents as to where the Council is headed with the floating bridge and if it will stop wasting money – whether this be thrusters or whatever – and no engineering proof that they will work and make an excellent frequent and reliable bridge. And there is no declared fallback position – i.e. Plan B if Plan A either fails to stand up to scrutiny, or, worse, bypasses proper scrutiny and fails in service!”
Watch the debate
More information about the floating bridge will be discussed at the Isle of Wight Council Scrutiny meeting at 5pm, Tuesday, 9th March.
Members of the public can watch the meeting live by clicking on the link in the agenda just before 5pm.
Image: © Jeremy Pocock