Resignation calls for Cabinet member over floating bridge

The ward councillor for East Cowes called for the resignation of Cabinet member for Transport, Ian Ward, over his handling of the floating bridge.

Karl Love

The Cowes floating bridge is operating a reliable service insisted cabinet members last night (Tuesday).

A heated debate took place at last night’s Isle of Wight Council scrutiny meeting, with East Cowes ward councillor Karl Love calling for the resignation of cabinet member Cllr Ian Ward over the ‘systematic failures’ of the bridge.

Leader of the Isle of Wight council, Cllr Dave Stewart, said:

“The purchase and design were done under the watch of another councillor.

“Perhaps Cllr Love needs to point his conversation in their direction.”

Problem affects 25% of Island
Cllr Love said:

“This problem affects 25 per cent of the Island. The conversation around the bridge has been a complete and total farce.

“It was totally predictable this bridge would break down during Cowes week.”

Cllr Love also criticised the time taken per crossing — 20 minutes each way.

Ward: Bridge operated above 90% since March
Cabinet member for infrastructure and transport, Cllr Ward said the service had operated above 90 per cent since March this year.

He said:

“This is a reliable craft as it stands. These figures show it is as good as the cross-Solent ferry operators, or any vehicle ferries.

“It can improve, and it will improve.

“I have watched the diligence of a crew who wait for people to come and vehicles to come. If they didn’t wait for them, they would be able to do four-five crossings an hour.

“We suffer from negativity. The only message that goes out is that ‘oh it’s out of service again’. All people hear is negativity, but otherwise it’s doing pretty well.”

Scrutiny chairman, Cllr Andrew Garratt, said the figures cited reflected the wider service of the floating bridge — including the launch service — and were not necessarily reflective of the bridge itself.

Massive decline in vehicles
The number of vehicles using the bridge has declined this year.

Just 58,202 used the service in 2017/18, compared to 269,099 the previous year.

“Negative” social media posts
Cllr Garratt also called for a communication strategy to tackle negative social media posts around the bridge.

In response, Cllr Stewart said:

“It would be good if members of this council, instead of sending out social media statements which are very emotional and critical, came and found out the facts. There is nothing worse than people firing out very emotional comments without the facts.”

Call for detail of issues
Scrutiny councillors requested from the council a document detailing the issues with the bridge, actions being taken, time frames and dates for completion of work.

Councillors also requested a flow chart, detailing the communication strategy in the case of issues with the floating bridge.


This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some additions by OnTheWight. Ed

Image: © With kind permission of Allan Marsh

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12 Comments on "Resignation calls for Cabinet member over floating bridge"

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Colin
And in the IWC world everything is fine. Nothing to see here, move along. In most other people’s world, the bridge is an unreliable failure. As the facts do show. Once the IWC gets it’s head out of the sand and stops pretending all is well then there is just a small chance that the problems can be resolved but being in denial is only going to… Read more »
davee
I seem to remember that an “EXPERT ADVISOR” was co-opted onto the decision making committee. Who was this person? What was the brief given to this person? What experience did this person have of the Medina crossing, its tidal flow and associated problems ie river traffic, passenger footfall, etc.etc. Who nominated this person as an “expert”. Is there a connection between the Naval Architects and this person.… Read more »
davee

If I am wrong and there wasn’t an “expert advisor”, then I humbly apologise. Which of course begs the question: Why wasn’t a competent advisor appointed.

confidential
Councillor Love is absolutely correct to be seen and heard supporting the economic needs of his constituents in the best way he can as a non-Cabinet Member. It really is time for this Floating Bridge to be scrapped and a new purposefully-designed one ordered which can serve the island ‘reliably’ without the need of the MV Seaclear to assist it across the Medina for the next 30… Read more »
iowdave

For God’s sake, build a bridge.

Steve Goodman

‘For God’s sake, build a floating bridge that works, like all the other floating bridges which worked reliably during the previous century and a half.’

marchowland

I’m not an engineer but could it be feasible to at least construct a PEDESTRIAN Tunnel for 24/7/365 access ? The Chinese have just built a 35 Mile Motorway bridge …. surely to goodness we can engineer a 300m Tunnel walkway !!

prof
I applaud cllr Ward for attempting to put a positive spin on things. If only he could have picked a more believable misleading statistic it might have worked. Seriously though, moaning about it or redefining the word “reliable” won’t help. We could put the whole council to the sword, or even bring in John Cleese to bash it with a tree branch, but the ferry would still… Read more »
Steve Goodman

‘Perhaps the time has come to take a positive attitude and start remembering what went well for a century and a half and what should be done to get back a service that really does deliver the previous reliable “reliability”’.

iowdave

Before executing the current council, it should be borne in mind that FB6 was ordered by the previous administration (independents, I believe, who are not shouldering any of the responsibility for the cock-ups now being encountered.

sandowner

Absolutely right iowdave they squandered the reserves of the previous council, quit when they could not set a lawful budget, and were responsible for specifying and ordering the floating bridge.

Geoff Brodie
As someone who has had a front row seat at County Hall over the last 13 years and someone who has been generally between the two ruling groups during that time, the facts are: 1. The reserves that were squandered were the £37m the Tories inherited from the ‘Island First’ group in 2005. Why they were that high I don’t know as I was only just elected… Read more »