We at OnTheWight have long put our energy into trying to help Islanders understand all they can about the people that seek to represent them, be that at a local Isle of Wight level, or nationally.
Our latest effort is – election2017.onthewight.com – it lists every ward for the upcoming 2017 council election and there you’ll find details of every candidate standing; a map showing you the boundaries of the wards and even a link to the OS map of the Wards, so you can examine the boundary in minute detail.
Each of the candidates links take you to a page dedicated to that candidate. We’ve made attempts through the group leaders to contact them all so they can engage with the public to let you find out more about them.
On the candidate page you’ll find a photo of them, and a section of text where they’ve had total freedom to tell you about themselves.
They also have an option to answer the follow four simple questions that have resonance across the Isle of Wight:
- Please list your top three priorities for a) The ward you seek to represent, b) The Isle of Wight as a whole.
- Young people (up to the age of 25) are the future of the Island. What has to change to improve their future?
- What should be done to improve and protect healthcare on the Island?
- Why should the people of this area vote for you? What do you bring that the other candidates don’t?
You’ll see below a broad set of ‘Thank yous’ that have made it possible for you as Isle of Wight residents to have access to all of this information about the people seeking to be elected.
Your friendly OnTheWight team have put in over 80 hours to get the system in the shape that you see before you. That’s equivalent to two full working weeks. It’s far more than we expected to do, but our philosophy is, if we commit to a project, we’ll see it through to the end to the best of our ability.
Unsurprisingly it’s taken us away from the many other things that we have to do in a week – like raising income.
If you’d like to support the effort to bring you this democratic tool, we’d be delighted if you wanted to donate something towards it.
We want to send out a big ‘Thank you!’ to a fellow news publication in Wrexham, the wonderful Wrexham.com and to Adam Davies at MyDesign Wrexham for donating huge amounts of time to the project.
When we were deciding how we were going to ramp up our election coverage this time, we created a dream wishlist of everything that we’d like to provide the Isle of Wight.
Calling around to fellow news publishers across the country we found that what Wrexham were doing closely matched our desires.
They’ve been amazingly generous with the system and their time in helping ours get set up.
Locally we’ve also had some great help. A big thank you to Garth for his impressively fast responses and skill in getting the server setup and code changes made. A big thanks also to Simon Cooke who flexed his CSS muscle, when the rest of us were left scratching our heads.
Thanks must also be paid to the candidates too who have taken the effort to fill out their profiles and answer the individual questions. It shows a level of commitment to the democratic process and gives an indication of the work that they’re prepared to put into representing you.
Without the effort of these people the system as you see it wouldn’t have been possible.
Zero engagement from Conservatives
We have been diligent in ensuring that all groups and independent candidates have had equal access to the system.
For a reason that has yet to be explained, none of the Conservative councillors have taken up the opportunity to engage with their voters that we extended to all group leaders. This is despite multiple emails and phone calls to Cllr Dave Stewart.
Strangely, we did receive a phone call from the IWCA yesterday asking why they had been left out. We explained how many times we’d tried to contact Cllr Stewart and forwarded them the emails that we’d previously sent Cllr Stewart. Since then we’ve heard nothing.
Frankly we’re at a loss as to why none of the Conservative councillors would want to freely engage with the people that might elect them. It’s hard to see it as anything but a contempt for those whose votes they are seeking to gain.
Update 13:22 Friday 21st April
Since publishing this article OnTheWight has had a number of Conservative councillors get in contact telling us they knew nothing about the opportunity to put their profiles on the site. We’ve pointed out the many attempts we made to gain their email addresses through their group leader, Cllr Dave Stewart and have referred them to Cllr Stewart.
Of those that have been in touch, we’ve been delighted to send invitations to and will of course continue to do this for all candidates to want to send us their email address (each has a separate login code sequence).
Trivia fans might like to know that Bob Seely was the first (last night) to add his photo and bio. Matthew Price was the first to complete his full profile, making the Newport North the first ward to have a full set of candidate profiles.
Update 10.05am Friday 21st April
Five days later, Cllr Stewart finally responded to our emails and messages, stating,
“This offer will be discussed at our next campaign meeting and I will come back to you once we have taken a view on this matter.”
Head over to election2017.onthewight.com to find out more about your candidates.