David Pugh gets involved in Priest/Gilbey/ overthrow rumour affair with questions

David Pugh (who lost his seat to Cllr Richard Priest at the 2013 local elections) has posed a number of questions to the Leader for tonight’s council meeting. Here’s the full text and his email to council members.

David Pugh

Earlier today (Wednesday) former council leader, David Pugh, emailed all Isle of Wight councillors (also known as members) with details of a question he’d submitted for tonight’s full council meeting.

David tells members his question has been edited by the monitoring officer, as she felt the “opening narrative to it has been rejected as it is considered to be a statement”.

He has shared his email and the question in full with OnTheWight readers below. The paper David refers to can also be found at the bottom of the article.

The paper is linked to two Shanklin councillors, Cllr Richard Priest – who was sacked from the Executive last week – and Cllr Jon Gilbey.

Cllr Gilbey initially claimed he was sacked, only later did he change this to a claim that he resigned from the Island Independents. OnTheWight spoke to a senior member of the administration today who claimed that Cllr Gilbey still hasn’t officially tendered his resignation – Ed.

Email to members: 17 September 2014 10:29am
Dear members

I have – as a resident of Shanklin – submitted a written public question to tonight’s Full Council meeting, on the subject of the Capital Contingency Report which went to the Executive last week.

My interest in this matter is simply as follows…. I am concerned that the plight of the residents of Rush Close (Shanklin) is being caught in the political crossfire of recent events and is at risk of not being given the proper consideration it deserves. My question raises serious concerns about the process on this matter to date, including the wider issues arising from the Capital Contingency Report – which I understand is now subject to a scrutiny call-in.

Whilst my question has been accepted, the Monitoring Officer has advised me that the opening narrative to it has been rejected as it is considered to be a statement. I take the view that this text provides a necessary introductory part of the question, in order to provide the full context that leads to it.

(As an aside, I recall that a detailed introductory narrative was generally permitted in the past when the Council considered questions from the likes of Mr Miller of Cowes. Nevertheless, I accept the Monitoring Officer’s position, particularly as she has advised me that “as always with a new / different administration some practices do change”, so I appreciate that a less generous / open approach may now be in place, in line with the Bell principles.)

I do, however, feel it is necessary to share with all members the introductory narrative to my question, in order that the full context of it is understood. Therefore please find attached my question to tonight’s Full Council meeting, complete with this introductory context. The Monitoring Officer has advised me that the final three paragraphs of the attached text will be considered as the question, so this is the only part you are likely to see / hear tonight.

Regrettably I am on the mainland this evening so cannot be in the public gallery at Full Council, but my submitted question will be asked on my behalf. I look forward to receiving the Leader’s response in due course.

As the fullness of the attached document’s content will not be placed on record, I will also be sharing it with the media, Shanklin Town Council and other interested parties.

Question to the Leader of the Council: Cllr Ian Stephens from Mr David Pugh

At last week’s meeting of the Council’s Executive, members considered the “Capital Programme Contingency Budget – Bids for Resources and Prioritisation of Key Capital Projects” report, which was published in the Leader’s name.

That report contained a section in paragraph 8, under the sub-heading “SHANKLIN RAILWAY CUTTING / RUSH CLOSE LANDSLIP” detailing that the Council “is currently considering whether there is any legal liability [in relation to the Rush Close landslip] prior to providing a report to the Executive in October”.

I understand from email correspondence that has recently been published – along with online comments made by two Executive members – that the wording contained in last week’s Executive report in relation to this item differs from what was originally intended to be published. Furthermore, I understand that the original wording in relation to this section had been approved by the then lead Executive Member – Cllr Jon Gilbey – and it was only when he and his colleague Cllr Richard Priest were not present at an informal Tuesday morning meeting of the Executive that other members of that committee agreed that any reference to Rush Close should be removed from the report, and asked the Head of Finance to make this change.

Irrespective of the potential liability (and resulting affordability) for the Council in relation to addressing the landslip at Rush Close, it is a matter of some concern that some members of the Executive decided – in a private meeting – to strike from the report any reference to Rush Close, as if it was an issue that was not worthy of their consideration. The Council’s Constitution is clear – in the section on Member Level Decisions (under the Council’s Decision Making Process) – that before a report is published the Council’s internal process must ensure “that all strategic, corporate, legal, financial, risk and other matters have been fully taken into account”. It is hard to comprehend that all matters (including potential legal and financial liabilities) could have been seen to be taken into account if one of previously stated liabilities was being consciously removed from the report at the arbitrary request of some Executive members.

If these Executive members had been successful in removing any reference to Rush Close from the report, this could have led to members making a decision to allocate capital funding to other schemes on the Island (such as the Undercliff in the Deputy Leader’s ward) without demonstrating to the public that they had had proper regard for other upcoming competing demands on the limited funds available in the capital contingency budget.

It is worth noting that it clearly would have been easier for Executive members to justify significant expenditure on initiatives such as the Undercliff if the report recommending this course of action did not acknowledge that such limited funds may also be needed to rectify problems of a similar nature elsewhere on the Island. This is undoubtedly something which the Deputy Leader would have been aware of when supporting the removal of the section about Rush Close from the report.I understand that officers subsequently insisted (undoubtedly because of the aforementioned constitutional requirement) that some revised wording on the issue of Rush Close was then reinserted into the report, as is evident in the published version. It does however appear that this would not have happened if those Executive members who agreed to remove the section on Rush Close from the report had had their way.

In light of all of this, I wish to ask the question set out below, which I ask the Leader to answer in line with the commitment in the Island Independents’ Framework to Change to “make decisions transparently and openly at every stage and level of the political process, enabling people to see how decisions are made and the evidence on which they are based”.

(Below this is the only section that has been allowed to be asked at the Full Council meeting this evening – Ed)
Given that a report on Rush Close is currently being prepared in advance of an Executive meeting on 7th October, and therefore timescales do not allow for information to be disclosed prior to then under the 20 working days provisions of the Freedom of the Information Act, a request for the timely disclosure of information is being made – through this question – directly to the Leader. This is so – given recent revelations – that such information can be shared with Rush Close residents in advance of October’s Executive meeting, to inform their consideration of the forthcoming papers and any representations they may wish to make in relation to it.

This question therefore requests the disclosure of the following paperwork:

  1. The original draft version of the Capital Programme Contingency Budget report, as signed off by Cllr Gilbey.
  2. The second draft version of the Capital Programme Contingency Budget report, as amended by members at an informal Executive meeting on a Tuesday morning.
  3. Any other variations on this report considered by members and officers prior to its final publication.
  4. Any email correspondence and notes of meetings which took place between members and officers in relation to the preparation and finalisation of this report.

Will the Leader agree to publish by this end of this week (19/09/14) the paperwork identified above, and will he also now advise exactly why he and members of his Executive felt it appropriate to seek to remove details of Rush Close from the proposed report, and is he confident that in doing so he and his Executive colleagues were (a) acting in a manner which was consistent with letter and spirit of the Council’s Constitution in this regard; and (b) demonstrating to the residents of Shanklin (and Rush Close in particular) that they were treating their concerns in a fair, equitable and proper manner, particularly given that taking such a step could work to the advantage (or be perceived to) of justifying expenditure on works of a similar nature in the Deputy Leader’s ward, and therefore is the Leader satisfied that this Executive member’s stance in supporting the removal of Rush Close from the report was not in any sense influenced by his desire to promote the interests of his own ward above those of others?

The paper in question

Wednesday, 17th September, 2014 12:36pm


ShortURL: http://wig.ht/2cjl

Filed under: Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News, Shanklin, Top story

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

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37 Comments on "David Pugh gets involved in Priest/Gilbey/ overthrow rumour affair with questions"

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Email updates?

Mmmm! Has a puppet-master become visible?

Given the performance of the previous IWC, some might consider it hypocrisy for its ex-Leader to mention the “Bell Principles.”


However, he asks fair questions on this matter, the answer to which would interest many.


I do agree, however why has it fallen to the ruinous and belligerent Pugh to ask these questions?
Do we not have enough councillors who are capable and willing to see the issues and raise them? PLEASE don’t say that we have to rely upon the old guard to sort out the present issues?

Pugh, why don’t you crawl back under the rock you’ve been hiding under. You dare to actually suggest that the present administration is less open than the junta that you oversaw!! The Independent administration is far from perfect but it does not even come close to the elitist closed shop of the last Tory Council when it comes to deceit, exclusion and secrecy. Your apparent concern for… Read more »
Peter Daws

Please Mr Pugh just go away, The majority of us don’t care what you think or what questions, valid or otherwise, you think you have the right to ask. We have no interest in your opinion, even if you’ve discovered a cure for the common cold or the secret for ever lasting happiness, we just don’t want to know.

retired Hack
So Pugh’s central allegation is that an attempt was made to scrub Rush Close from the budget so that more could be spent on the Undercliff “in the Deputy Leader’s (Steve Stubbings’) ward”. Trouble with that is that the other end of the Undercliff – also suffering horendous problems as a result of the closure – is in the ward of the leader of the IWC Conservative… Read more »

It’s the Indies at the moment that have control.But the Conservative Leader could be more active securing funds from his own Government.Maybe he will tell us what he has done?

At the executive meeting Cllr Stubbings mentioned there was a “potential dispute” relating to the Rush Close issue. Priest/Gilbey/Blezzard resign/sacked apparently related to the Rush Close issue. Allegations that councillors tried to remove from an executive report the Rush Close issue. Former leader writes to the press on the Rush Close issue. Council “currently considering if there is any legal liability” relating to the Rush Close issue.… Read more »
Island Monkey

He’s back! Cue the theme from Jaws – we’re gonna need a bigger boat.


mike starke

Speaking of potential “coups” and undermining existing political group leaderships…

… Enter the Pughtin, who – clearly – has not been taking the tablets to curb his congenital verbal diarrhoea.

Stewart Blackmore
The sheer chutzpah of Pugh is staggering. I lost count of the times I sat in the public gallery under his discredited administration when members of the public were ritually humiliated by the Chair on the advice of Pugh & the Monitoring Officer, allegedly for making a statement disguised as a question. He could not have cared less then about openness and I certainly don’t believe that… Read more »
The Sciolist

Mike – you’re right. That has to be the longest ahem, question in history. I dozed off before I got to the end of it.

What a shame we wont get to see him ask it in person – due to his other commitments. Translation, I suppose he’s far too busy advising someone else on exactly where they are going wrong with their edukashun?


it will be interesting to see whom he has chosen to be his representative.

Is there any symbolism on the ex-Indies being seated between the Tories and UKIP as alleged by CO Online? :-))

Robert Jones
He still asks a valid question – if at exquisite length – about the issue of liabilities in papers presented to the Executive. He mars this question with malicious digs at Cllr Stubbings, and side-swipes at the Bell principles, which he clearly couldn’t resist. Nonetheless, it’s important to remember that the substantive questions about that paper have still not been answered. I should be interested to know,… Read more »

Ah, Young David; my cup runneth over!

“As the fullness of the attached document’s content will not be placed on record, I will also be sharing it with the media, Shanklin Town Council and other interested parties.” Oh yeah Dave, and who are the ‘other interested parties’ you mention? Landowners, developers, business friends, family connections, people who have pecuniary interests perhaps or just householders on the close? Clearly you never solved this matter on… Read more »
The Lord knows I have little time for the disingenuous, self-serving, numpty the late Cllr Pugh – but on this occasion he does raise a fair point, fairly made (if you subtract all the rubric and hyperbole). He seems to have raised, what for me,is the nub of this broughhaha – nothing to do with a “coup” put up as a poor smokescreen by the other “gang… Read more »
martin william wareham

Go away you stupid boy before asking questions perhaps you should explain why you and your fellow numptys got the Island in such a bad state and now others have to try to put it right Thanks Dave.

The biggest problem with submitting questions to the council is that they then have time to concoct an answer with which they always stray away from the subject and never fully answer the original question. This is presumable done as if asked ‘on the spot’ most would struggle to come up with an answer anyway as they would be afraid to state anything in concrete terms for… Read more »

I find it hard to believe that an officer would be a puppet-master, unless of course there was a meta-puppet-master in the background.

But that is pushing the bounds of credibility.


To go back to the root problem- money- was there not an allocation in 2012 grant from the Local Sustainability Transport fund (you might recall Pugh was Leader then) and/or the 2014 LTSF to repair the landslip on the byway that is the old railway track behind Rush close?

Ode on melancholy
The poor residents of Rush Close have been stitched up behind closed doors it seems, with the substantive question about this matter being brushed aside on a procedural point by Stephens, and ignored by Stubbings and Jordan, who appear to have watered this potential capital liability down for reasons known only to themselves and their leader. Thus we now have a Shanklin cover up, a minority administration,… Read more »
One of those residents, an elderly lady, recently widowed, was at the full council meeting last night. She got up and asked the council if the recent sackings/quitting/paper changing issue was another attempt by the council to dodge its legal obligations to repair the railway cutting, addressed in a letter she had written to the council. She was very brave and several in the gallery applauded as… Read more »
Steephill Jack

Opportunistic muck-raking by Mr.Pugh IMO.

We don’t normally get a photo of a contributor. He seems not to have come to terms with his defeat. He preferred playing kiddie games and he’s no different now. It always seemed that actually doing something of benefit for Islanders wasn’t what it was all about. Anyone know why a councillor was permitted to read out the (even-so) long written question for him – so it… Read more »
Niton Wight Satin

A perfect illustration of The enemy of my enemy is my friend.


The fact that Pugh has waded into this after his defeat at the hands of Richard Priest makes me think that either he has hopes of Richard standing down and is getting prepared to step into his shoes. OR the coup has more weight than we think and they are somehow secret buddies… curiouser and curiouser


As there are some of us not from the Shanklin area,so please would some kind person inform us the whereabouts of this Rush Close,thank you very much in advance.

Amay Zane
I do not believe it

Gosh! There IS life after death!


unnnnn believable ,, I accept the Monitoring Officer’s position, particularly as she has advised me that “as always with a new / different administration some practices do change”, so I appreciate that a less generous / open approach may now be in place, in line with the Bell principles.)


Pugh – circling like a shark.

Mason Watch

The Boy Pugh? Getting involved with a rambling pre election address to the proletariat? Shurely shome mistake! On a separate point could I respectfully ask him to keep it quiet as we haven’t forgotten the mess he left behind….


Who asked David Pugh’s question yesterday?

Stewart Blackmore

Ray Bloomfield, the Tory Councillor for Lake South. In my opinion it was an abuse of process and should not have been allowed by the Chair.

It’s in the name – PUBLIC questions.

Miss Chievous

I thought it might be Gavin Foster? They seem to be close still.

Stewart Blackmore

You obviously don’t know Gavin very well!