‘Dark Day for Island Democracy’ say Island Indies

The Island Independents say the constitutional changes voted through at last night’s council meeting are “even worse even than the ‘Pugh days’”, adding that the “Conservatives are effectively silencing the opposition”.

julia baker smith

Cllr Julia Baker-Smith shares this latest news on behalf of the nine Island Independent Councillors. Ed


The Island Independents have called Wednesday a dark day for Island Democracy.

In their first action as the ruling administration since the election the Conservative Party have removed the democratic processes of openness and transparency put in place by the Independent led Council over the last four years [read coverage of the meeting].

Erosion of democratic process
This includes the removal of the ability of Councillors from across the chamber to ask questions of the Cabinet Members and Leader at the full Council meetings, a practice that has taken place for many years, the offering of committee chairmanships to opposition members to ensure proper scrutiny of the ruling group’s policies and a reduction in the number of meetings and the powers of the full council.

Worse even than the ‘Pugh days’
Cllr Julia Baker-Smith Leader of the Island Independent group said,

“Wednesday was a dark day for democracy on the Isle of Wight. This erosion of the democratic process is worse even than the ‘Pugh days’. The Conservatives are effectively silencing the opposition by removing the opportunity to ask questions of the Leader and his Cabinet on their policies. The suggestion that questions will only be posted online is quite frankly ludicrous and should be supplementary to council debate, not in lieu of it.

“This is local government, not twitter!”

‘Deeds, Not Words’
Cllr Baker Smith went on to say,

“Just 40% of Islanders who voted selected a conservative candidate, the rest of the votes split among the opposition groups and parties. This move by the Conservatives effectively silences 60% of Islanders and goes to show once again how our outdated electoral system leaves the majority without a voice.

“While the lively debates in the chamber have been criticised by some in the past, at least there WAS debate and the opportunity for all Councillors to speak up for Island residents. The Conservatives make a lot of noise about inclusivity and cross party working, yet their actions are quite the opposite and a complete shutdown of any cross party working so valued by the Island Independents.

“100 years since the suffragette movement their moto still rings true ‘Deeds, Not Words’.”

Image: © With kind permission of Allan Marsh

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Thursday, 18th May, 2017 8:37am

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

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5 Comments

  1. Suruk the Impolite


    18.May.2017 9:03am

    This is shocking and, essentially, means that any islanders whose councillor is not in the cabinet are effectively disenfranchised as their representative is powerless to affect any decisions made.

  2. holdmyheadinmyhands


    18.May.2017 9:20am

    It is very very upsetting

  3. electrickery


    18.May.2017 9:57am

    Well, People, you voted ’em back in. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

    Hasn’t it gone quiet about Dave’s pledge to make all Island schools “Outstanding”?

  4. why is anybody surprised…its what Pugh started and Now the electorate have allowed them to carry on with his policy

    Now we have to put up with more Tory social engineering for another 4 years

  5. This is disappointing and sadly typical of Conservatives once they secure power, but the Independents come across as pathetic simply moaning about things rather than working out how they can get what they want under the new constitution. No ‘named’ votes? Just four councillors have to stand up in the chamber and they can have a rollcall vote whenever they want one. Not enough council meetings? If there is business to be done a small number of members always have the power to summon an extraordinary meeting. Can’t ask questions of Cabinet members? Use the new procedures to ask relevant questions of Cabinet members, and see if they get meaningful answers within the required timescale. If not, summon an extraordinary council meeting with the express purpose of tabling the questions that have not received satisfactory answers.

    The trouble here seems to be that the Independents have got too used to the comfy world of being the administration and have not yet applied their minds as to how to be an effective opposition.

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