Councillor walks out of floating bridge meeting, declaring it a ‘politically constructed quango’ (updated)

Cllr Love walked out of last night’s meeting (Monday) after just 20 minutes, calling it a ‘politically constructed quango’. He explains why.

Karl Love

The Isle of Wight councillor for East Cowes, Karl Love, walked out of the first meeting of the Cowes floating bridge User Group after just 20 minutes, describing it as a “politically constructed quango”.

Following last night’s (Monday) meeting at East Cowes Town Hall, Cllr Love told OnTheWight,

“I challenged its membership construction and the self appointed chair, Cllr Ian Ward, to be open and transparent. It was clear, in my view, that he and officers intended to govern the group as they like and impose predetermined principals and rules.”

He went on to say,

“I challenged the fact that it’s a closed meeting to the public and said that it should be open. I stated I don’t believe it to be transparent and there was a refusal to by them to include the East Cowes User Group [Floating Bridge Stakeholders Group. Ed] as a knowledgable bona fide member.

“Cllr Ward described them as a political group and activists.”

Ward refutes accusation
Cllr Ward has since refuted the accusation, telling OnTheWight,

“I have never heard of the East Cowes User Group and I have never called them political activists. I have met with a group in County Hall who I did once describe as activists (but not political!).”

He went on to say,

“This User Group was set up by Council Officers at the recommendation of the Scrutiny Committee, the agenda was produced by officers, they selected the members.”

“Contempt” for local people
At Isle of Wight council Scrutiny Committee meetings, the Floating Bridge Stakeholders Group (made up of many engineers with decades of experience) were told by Leader of the Isle of Wight council, Cllr Dave Stewart, that they would be included.

Cllr Love says,

“This group has worked hard to provide information, but the fact they were not invited and the language used by Cllr Ward, in my view, makes a clear statement of contempt for a group of local people who have tried hard to bring to light many of the facts and made positive suggestions.”

Love: “Manipulation and control”
The councillor for East Cowes, went on to say,

“I believe in transparency and inclusion and, in my view, by excluding the general public from a public involvement user group meeting reeks of manipulation and control.

“It appears to me that the meeting has randomly-selected six people from more than 100 users who registered and while that is positive, I believe this only represents part of the community.

“However, as we did not witness the selection process or have been included in the construction process of any of the methodology processes in establishing an agenda, the methodology or its terms of reference, to me, it smacks of political manipulation. This should have been agreed and done with the local members.

“It seems, in my view, that Cllr Ward knows nothing of community engagement and inclusive practice.”

Love: “Contrived for political purposes”
Cllr Love finished by saying,

“This meeting is not what I believed to be agreed at Scrutiny, nor what I agreed to participate in. I will not participate in something which I feel to be contrived for political or managerial purpose and its manipulation of outcomes.

“How can it be a user group meeting with just six independent users and other users actively prevented from participating.”

Cllr Peacey-Wilcox: “It was a worthwhile meeting”
OnTheWight also spoke to the Isle of Wight councillor for Cowes, Cllr Lora Peacey-Wilcox who also attended the meeting.

Cllr Peacey-Wilcox told us that in her view it was “a worthwhile meeting” and covered some “really good stuff”.

She explained the six members of the public on the User Group had been randomly selected from 100 entrants who are registered with saver cards and included residents from east and west Cowes.

Cllr Peacey-Wilcox: “Lost confidence in Bridge”
The ward councillor for Cowes told those at the meeting that she had “lost confidence” in the Floating Bridge, not knowing when she left home whether she’d be able to get across the river in time to catch a ferry.

She reminded officers and the Chairman that over 18 months ago she’d recommended the IWC buy a passenger launch boat in order to avoid having to pay £1,000 for the use of a commercial one every time the bridge failed.

Cllr Peacey-Wilcox finished by commenting on Cllr Love leaving the meeting early, saying as much as she could understand why he did it,

“If you’re not at the table you’ve got no input.”

It is hoped the meetings will be held every three months.

Article edit
26.9.2018 – Comments from Cllr Peacey-Wilcox added.

Image: © With kind permission of Allan Marsh

Tuesday, 25th September, 2018 4:22pm



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

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5 Comments on "Councillor walks out of floating bridge meeting, declaring it a ‘politically constructed quango’ (updated)"

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“It seems, in my view, that Cllr Ward knows nothing of community engagement and inclusive practice.” So say many residents of Sandown!

Alternative Perspective

Karl Love is the Isle of Wight councillor for East Cowes.

What is the view of the Isle of Wight councillor for West Cowes?


Most of the Cowes Town Councillors and Cowes IW Councillors are angry about the floating bridge and the Council Officers’ ineptitude.

Other people who were not invited or included on this “User” Group: – people who don’t have saver cards (the all important business customers who don’t use the bridge as much any more who we should want to be patronising our shops and businesses!) – children (no saver cards – that’s who they emailed) – disabled people – local business owners (including companies that use the floating… Read more »
It’s ridiculous that the Council refuses to meet with the engineers on the Stakehilders Group. This is a piece of engineering, not a Council project. The only people who should have been making decisions on what to do with the floating bridge and whether it is fixable or not should have been unbiased, qualified engineers. But the Council officers and political leadership have refused to meet with… Read more »