Facts and truth ‘distorted out of all recognition’ claims Cllr Stubbings

Details that first appeared as comments with OnTheWight, were, for the first time, heard in the council chamber last night. Cllr Stubbings laid out in detail his sequence of events, “to put the record straight in the public arena”.

County Hall with Priest and Gilbey

At last night’s Scrutiny Committee meeting, during the discussion surrounding the call-in of the Isle of Wight council Executive’s decision on the Capital Contingency Fund report, deputy leader of the council, Cllr Steve Stubbings sought to clear up any misconceptions about the issues surrounding the paper.

Cllr Stubbings read out a four minute prepared statement outlining the sequence of events that led up to a decision being made by the Isle of Wight Executive on 9th September to approve the paper.

Cllr Stubbings claims truth “distorted out of all recognition”
Cllr Stubbings started by saying,

“Firstly, and perhaps surprisingly, I’m grateful to Cllr Blezzard for calling this in … notwithstanding the delay in capital expenditure on several significant and vital projects … and the fact that the premise for the call-in is, and I’m being generous here, somewhat spurious, amongst everything else that’s been going on around County Hall over the past six weeks, upon which I’d be happy to expand, should the committee so desire, the facts, indeed the truth, surrounding this report have been distorted out of all recognition and I appreciate the opportunity I have been afforded, by the chair, at this moment, to put the record straight in the public arena.”

He then went on to outline the sequence of events surrounding paper H, the Capital Contingency Fund report,

“On Tuesday 5 August, immediately following the meeting of the property disposal and Capital Programme sub committee, a committee which I chair, Stuart Fraser, head of finance, approached me and offered to brief the executive on a paper then in preparation relating to Capital contingency budget which was coming to executive in September.

“Mr Fraser had just presented a report on the capital monitoring position for quarter one. I duly accepted his offer.

“On 13 August Mr Fraser provided a first draft of the report to the Leader, Cllr Gilbey, Cllr Jordan and myself… I would like, with the permission of the chair to read a section of the accompanying email…

“Dear All
Attached is the first draft of the report on the Capital Contingency Budget for the Executive on 9 September for your consideration. I sent the draft to various officers last week for any comments and in particular to add the narrative for each of the projects in para 8, unfortunately they all seem to be on leave this week so this draft is entirely the work of myself and staff in the finance team. Happy to discuss the content at any point, and as suggested previously, we will be available to discuss the report at your informal Executive meeting next Tuesday morning if you wish to do so.”

Cllr Stubbings: Cllr Gilbey wasn’t ever author of the paper
Readers may remember Shanklin county councillors Richard Priest and Jon Gilbey had claimed “versions of the paper were amended without the authority of the author” – asserting that Cllr Gilbey was the author.

Cllr Stubbings explained clearly last night that Jon Gilbey was not, and had never been, the author of the paper,

“No member responded to Mr Fraser’s correspondence. In other words, contrary to an assertion made by a Mr Pugh of Shanklin in a statement which was read out by a member of this council during the full council meeting of Weds 17 Sept, the original wording in relation to this or any other section of the paper had NOT (at the time of the meeting on 19/8) been approved by the then lead executive Member Cllr Jon Gilbey.

“To be clear, Cllr Gilbey was not, and never has been, the author of this, or any subsequent draft, of this paper. Stuart Fraser was. In fact, I would question whether Cllr Gilbey even saw this first draft of the paper prior to the informal executive meeting (which he did not attend) of 19/8.”

Cllrs Priest and Gilbey didn’t attend meeting
Cllr Stubbings then went on to explain the next stage of the process,

“We arranged for Mr Fraser and Bill Murphy to attend our weekly informal executive meeting at 8.30 on Tuesday 19/8 and, on 15/8, in the leader’s absence, I emailed all executive members and all chairs of advisory committees….

“Subject: Tuesday am informal executive
Dear all
Ian and Luisa are both away
Bill Murphy and Stuart Fraser are planning to join us to discuss capital projects in prep for our Sept exec meeting
Please do everything you can to attend
Many thanks, Steve”

“I received 4 apologies. Two of which were from Cllrs Gilbey and Priest.

Later in the meeting, Cllr Stubbings, confirmed that informal executive meetings take place every Tuesday morning and have done since the Island Independents came into power in May 2013 – he added that he’d not missed a single meeting. From memory, he said, Cllrs Priest and Gilbey rarely attended the informal executive meetings.

“Insidious activity” mentioned
In the absence of Cllrs Priest and Gilbey from the meeting on 19th August, it was explained by Cllr Stubbings that a consensus was reached by the other members present to exclude three items from the approval of funding until further information was available, two related to Shanklin, the other to Cowes Enterprise College (then under Cllr Priest’s portfolio),

“At that meeting all six members present agreed that there was sufficient justification to exclude the items relating to Cowes Enterprise College, Shanklin Lift and Rush Close on the basis of reasons subsequently provided by me in the executive meeting in September. I’d be happy to share these reasons if any members present are not up to speed.

“Following Mr Fraser’s presentation of a second draft of the report Cllrs Priest and Gilbey proceeded vehemently to question the process and put in place a chain of circumstances which masked a far more insidious activity taking place parallel to these events.”

Priest and Gilbey had items put back on the list
Cllr Stubbings finished by saying,

“They [Priest and Gilbey] subsequently secured the reintroduction of the three excluded items for draft three of the paper before it went to call-over and I, and, as far as I am aware, no other member, objected to this.

“Since both Cllr Priest and Cllr Gilbey declared an interest and left the room during discussion on this paper at the meeting of the executive on 9 September, I would consider the scrutiny panel’s interest in this specific detail entirely appropriate.

“In summary, chair, everything that took place around my involvement in the production of the Capital Contingency budget paper is entirely regular and in keeping with normal practice.”

Claims of a smokescreen
Cllr Baker Smith later asked the leader whether Cllr Priest had been removed from the Executive because of his lack of engagement or was there more going on.

Raising the reference to the report being more “a smokescreen to other issues going on” she added,

“Personally I feel the report has been blown out of all proportion relating to the normal processes that go on within this council.”

The leader, Cllr Ian Stephens, said he would not assassinate another person’s character in public.

Image: © County Hall by Simon Haytack

Friday, 3rd October, 2014 12:23pm


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

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

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70 Comments on "Facts and truth ‘distorted out of all recognition’ claims Cllr Stubbings"

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” a Mr Pugh of Shanklin …” ;-D How refreshing to have such an open statement from a leading Council member. For a while it’s looked like the ‘strange but true’ explanation of the shenanigans around the report was to cover up an attempted coup. What made Priest and Gilbey think they could get away with it and have the undying gratitude of the public for delivering… Read more »

” a Mr Pugh of Shanklin …” Thinks; is there room set aside at the Conservative’s Newport HQ for a coffin containing some Shanklin soil?

Cicero — “On the other hand they could have been said in total innocence.” I don’t think that ‘innocence’ or ‘guilt’ come into it. If someone declines to give further information on the grounds that it could assassinate someone else’s character then clearly in the mind of the speaker the subject is, in the speaker’s opinion, of very poor character. I cannot see any other interpretation wherever… Read more »
Thanks for clarifying the wording, Phil. I didn’t know that someone had actually asked Cllr Ian Stephens to stand aside. I’d heard rumours about a ‘coup’ (which sounds very melodramatic) but not a confirmed statement of fact. Who asked him to stand aside? Whoever did so must have some kind of plan – a new Executive, at least. The most important question is whether the dissent has… Read more »
phil jordan
davidwalter: The group have settled, we have re-shuffled the Executive ( a little), as far as I am aware there is no dissent in our group that would threaten our existence. I am very close to what is going on, as you may well imagine. There will always be disagreements about Policy…any group will, and does, have that. It is healthy and correct that we have the… Read more »
Good article. Steve Stubbings sounds very credible in his version of events and I’m assuming that he had evidence to back it up. Makes me wonder what is going on with Richard Priest and Jon Gilby because their version of events now seems even more far-fetched. I still struggle to believe that they would try and deliberately bring down their fellow Indies – for what? To hand… Read more »
Steve Goodman
And I’ve also heard it said that Richard didn’t want to be leader. So unless we hear directly from those involved about this distracting disappointing mess, we know only that gossip & hearsay aggravate the problem of spending too much time & effort on the non-productive personal political game playing. Our big problems remain to be dealt with; regression at County Hall doesn’t help, does it? Having… Read more »

Weren’t you a keen supporter of this ‘independent’ mob? Just realised what ‘independents’ are really like?

Steve Goodman
Robbo; Q1 Yes. Q2 No. As you seem to be interested , I have always supported the best of the (mainly politically unattractive) bunch (& done what I could about the worst of that bunch), whatever their affiliation. Which means that I have never voted for any of the unattractive national governments I have lived through. And that some (almost entirely Green & ‘Indy’) locals & MEPs… Read more »

Well well isn’t the silence from councillor Whitehouse et al deafening.Not nice being proven untruthful is it.

Steve Stubbings is a man of proven integrity and has done nothing to deserve the disturbing vollies of abuse aimed in his and the true Independents

As for the other councillors they have shown there true colours in being closet Tories. Remember this come election time

Robert Jones
That silence is certainly peculiarly uncharacteristic; one worries about him so – is the lad well? But what worries, disturbs, depresses me much more is the silence from Richard Priest: I’ve known him, off and on, for a good few years now. We’ve had our fallings-out – over serious issues, there was never anything personal in it. I know he doesn’t like being manipulated or pushed about,… Read more »
Sounds like you might be in a good position to express your concerns privately to Cllr Priest, Robert, (unless he’d be afraid of seeing his ensuing comments here). As I said this morning, I’ve been concerned about him too, in my small way. Mind you, neither he nor any apparent contacts of his used to post here in all the times before the coup. Does he just… Read more »
sam salt
A coup? At the Isle of Wight Council, a coup? My goodness me, excitement. I have heard of no coup. I have heard of Councillors going, but not a coup. Let’ move on shall we? Lots going on other than supposed coup’s, half a million paid in error, an election in Shalfleet, a pot hole in Newport, Wightlink are running on time. I burned the dinner, all… Read more »

Sorry to have alarmed you Tess, I should have said ‘attempted coup’, of course, (and that was *before* the red wine was broken open …) What will they think in 500 years when amazing mortals of the time try to make sense of us here. Don’t say they won’t care, but will instead be trying to make sense of your Newport pothole.

Robert Jones

No no, Geoff is innocent – he’s considerably younger than I for a start, so we never played cowboys n’Injuns together.

No, the guilty party knows who he is; and he knows the day of reckoning will fall; the suspense must be, and I hope is, all but unbearable.

Steve Goodman

My experience confirms much of what Robert has written. It is possible that Richard is simply quietly getting on with what he does well, despite the personal political storm in the IOW teacup, without making things worse by aggravating a silly situation that distracts from the important stuff; we don’t know, but if that’s the case, we would all benefit from more of the same.

mike starke
Cllr Phil Jordan wrote:”We are considering a public statement about recent events and wouldn’t want, at this point, to pre-empt that with further details at this point.” Luckily for Cllr Jordan and whoever “We” are, there are (lamentably)few of us old-style, door-kicking journalists left out of captivity on this island to shout out the question: “WHAT?” in response to the above. … Before falling about laughing at… Read more »
Seems to me the ‘We’ – you know, the Indies, (just guessin’) – have been going through “recent events”, and now the dust has settled they may issue a statement about it. Makes sense to me. What did we expect in the name of ‘openness and transparency’, daily bulletins of who said what to who? Considering the time and tone of your posting, “… next question? Oh,… Read more »
phil jordan
maike starke: “We” are the administration… but you knew that anyway. The Council (therefore, the media officers) does NOT engage with *political* PR. Any PR would have to come from within the Independent administration and it the administration who are considering a release of information once all members of the group have been consulted. That has not been possible up to this moment in time because of… Read more »
Tanja Rebel

Richard Priest is a man of integrity. I know this from personal experience.

Phil, with the greatest of respect: “That has not been possible up to this moment in time because of absences of members of the group. (Illness, holiday and work commitments).” With the mobile phone, email, Facebook, Twitter, SMS texts, fax, Skype, motor-car and even the humble postie, that doesn’t feel right unless an individual is so ill he or she is deserving of our concern for their… Read more »

Just look at who is sniggering behind their hands while the Indies continue to embarrass themselves publicly- the blue rosettes give a clue!.

phil jordan
David Walter: With the greatest of respect, we manage our group in the way we do, not in the way you want us to. A meeting is planned for next week and we shall discuss the matter then. To be clear, without speaking to ALL of my colleagues at the planned meeting I am not personally going to comment further over this specific aspect of the matter.… Read more »

Phil — Yes. I can and do understand. Good luck next week.

Black Dog
Surely as portfolio holder Mr Gilbey should have been notified by the chair of the informal executive meeting that three items were not discussed and the reason they were not discussed was…… As opposed to just deleting said items from this important report albeit a draft version. Why were the items reinstated when Mr Gilbey complained? Who reinstated it and why? The old smoke and mirrors games… Read more »
turn up
Surely as portfolio holder, and executive member, Mr Gilbey should have turned up to the meeting. But then, maybe its better for him and Priest to not turn up and then cause trouble. I have, several times whilst sat in Gilbeys cafe, overheard him and Priest discussing council business. I have often thought this would be better done in private. Last time, Priest and Gilbey were discussing… Read more »
retired Hack
“Me, you, Bob and Whitehouse.” Ah-ha. It all falls into place. Assuming it’s the right Bob, of course. The Grand Coalition. Needed in times of national emergency, for the greater good, etc etc. And guess who’s planning to be top dog amongst that little lot. I bet it won’t be me, you or Bob. No mention of David. Or Dave, either, for that matter. Well of course… Read more »

Gilbey will be wondering at business booming *after* the holiday season, from tomorrow, not to mention all the little recording devices gleaming next to the salt and pepper. Standing room only, I imagine …


We might have to apply for food coup-ons to eat there, let’s hope we don’t get Indie-gestion …

Mrs Retired Hack

Haha, brilliant image Tryme. Gilbey’s cafe could lend itself to being a den of espionage and intrigue:
The name’s Bond, Brooke Bond,
The spy who came in from the cold drinks
Live and let dine
You only lunch twice…


I see the chalked-up Special was ‘a dish best served cold’, cooked up by guest chef Pugh, (not without some sweary histrionics in the kitchen), aided by sous chef Whitehouse.



Man in Black

All soons very interesting except for the “you, me, bob and Whitehouse”.

Have you not been keeping up? Surely it was “you me Bob and Charlie”?

retired Hack

I think the conventional wisdom is that Charlie was only ever there to make up the numbers. And he’s not been well…

turn up

Charlie doesnt begin with W and sound like Whitehouse

steve s

@Black Dog
The three items WERE discussed.
I hope that’s helpful.

Black Dog

@Mr Stubbings

So the three items were discussed and following that discussion it was decided to remove them from the report!

Why was the portfolio holder not consulted prior to the items being removed at this stage of the reports progress?

As far as I can see political ambitions go beyond the two accused.

phil jordan

black dog:

Do please try to keep up with things…

The three items were NOT removed from the report.

The porfolio holder WAS consulted many times during the progress of this paper. He clearly was not part of executive discussions at meeting(s) he did not attend.

I have no idea to what you refer after that….

Black Dog

Your patronising attitude always surfaces Mr Jordan.

You and Mr Stubbings can continue to argue semantics as much as you like. The truth will out.

This matter is not over, I personally am a patient man with an enormous amount of time to get to the bottom of this and other issues relating to this administration.

mike starke
I’m in total agreement with davidwalters’. And that’s 51 posts on the subject. Now I can’t wait now for next week’s “Jordan Committee” to come up with a form of words than another sub-committee might deem worthy of passing on to an independent consultancy on media relations before being referred back to the council’s executive for ratification, subject to review by the English language department of Godshill… Read more »
Oh come on Mike, entertaining exaggeration almost shades into having a good old fit of temper. And invites cliches based on ‘aren’t they all awful’. Face to face meetings are usually essential in Council matters, because discussion can’t adequately take place via Twitter, Skype, email,Facebook,etc.. If one or 2 are on holiday, why begrudge that. PR has been most obviously down to the Tories so far. As… Read more »
Robert Jones
Random thoughts – why is an “informal” Executive meeting virtually mandatory on Exec members? If members can’t attend, is there provision for immediate supply of a summary of discussion to all members, including non-attenders (and if not, why?). What authority does an informal meeting have – is it basically simply a management meeting; if not, what is its actual function – to amend officers’ reports before they… Read more »
retired Hack
Robert, I think the answer to your penultimate question, “why was the impression given that it had been Gilbey’s report”, is fairly simple. It was an impression given by a number of people, including Gilbey himself, to provide a manufactured excuse for what was, and had been for some time, going on behind the scenes. A major public reference to that, of course, came in Wayne Whittle’s… Read more »
Robert Jones

Retired – I think you’re all too correct. Shall we come OUT of retirement, and try to do a better job than this lot? It wouldn’t be that hard, really – would it?

Geoff Lumley

You would have to get elected first – and I remember your vote the last time you stood ! I’m too kind to remind you here…….

Robert Jones
I was thinking more of a coup, Geoffrey. None of this tedious business of getting elected. And the LAST time I stood, I did rather well; we skate over that unfortunate occasion in Carisbrooke East, when I was persuaded against my better judgement to stand against Steve Ross. Anyway, Retired Hack and I could start our own party. Everyone else seems to be doing it…..
Geoff Lumley
Informal meetings are part and parcel of how Executive local government works up and down the country. Its where plans are laid and reports agreed. Without them even less would be decided than currently. Surely being an Executive member should require a reasonable level of commitment to the collective body? As we learnt last night the two former Executive members, according to Cllr Stubbings “rarely attended the… Read more »
Robert Jones

Your trouble is that you have a suspicious nature.

Well it’s one of your troubles. There are others….

Robert Jones
Taking that slightly more seriously – I don’t see how they could refute the allegation; presumably some record is kept even in this shambolic outfit of who was there and who wasn’t. I’m sure you’re right by the way that this is the way Executives work throughout the country, but you give the problem away when you say that without them “even less would be decided than… Read more »
Geoff — Politics is nothing more than the name we give to the way humans interact when working as a group. Whether you are working your way up the ladder in McDonalds or taking your first seat in the Commons, we behave much the same. Informal discussions in groups, between groups and group members causes dynamics in ideas, policies, groups and their structure. It’s not so much… Read more »
Geoff Lumley
David. I entirely agree with your final paragraph. If people regularly don’t turn up they should be removed promptly. Ian Stephens in my view was far too tolerant if what is claimed is true about the two’s infrequent attendances at informal Executive meetings. And to grumble about not being consulted, as they have done in this instance, when you don’t turn up, is just pathetic. Frankly I… Read more »
Geoff, I was concerned at last Thursday’s Scrutiny about Cllr Ian Stephen’s statement (I think it was Ian, not Cllr Stubbings?) to the effect that he wasn’t going to be drawn into “character assassinations”. These are senior experienced men with a good command of the English language. There is a huge difference between “character assassination” and, say, a rebuke. If one of those men had information that… Read more »
David, I thought Cllr Stephens used the word “assassinate” only in response to, and to meet the content of, a point that had just been put to him. In colloquial terms we do put things in imaginary quotations marks, referring back to what the other speaker has just said to us. We would need to know in what terms he had just been addressed, to make a… Read more »

Oh, so you think that would “shut it all down”, do you Geoff? Bless! Not that you would hope to make a bit of hay with it then …!

Geoff Lumley

tryme – I’m ever optimistic. And I hope you would agree that Alan Hollands and I have largely kept out of this and have maintained our position of being ‘critical friends’ to this administration.

I do indeed agree, Geoff. You seem to take subjects and councillors on their merits, not taking a party political line for the sake of it, and taking a fair and constructive approach. Your posting here has really enhanced your reputation as far as I’m concerned. I couldn’t resist teasing you … But I do think there would be a whole lot more kerfuffle if we were… Read more »
tryme — I didn’t make a note and I didn’t record that Scrutiny. We had four from the press, tho’ so it can be established. I thought he said it twice in the context of explaining what had been happening and why. My recollection is that the word was not used alone, but as “character assassination”. Sally has a good memory….and a tape! Maybe she can set… Read more »

Some might be concerned by a possible implication of the last two words in the sentence “The leader, Cllr Ian Stephens, said he would not assassinate another person’s character in public.”

On the other hand they could have been said in total innocence.

phil jordan
cicero/tryme/david walter: The quote from Ian was in response to a question from Julia Baker Smith (to the Leader) that asked, in view of the comments made by Cllr Stubbings that “…..a chain of circumstances which masked a far more insidious activity taking place parallel to these events.”…. what these *other* activities were. In response to that question, Ian stated he would not assassinate (the character of?)… Read more »

As you probably know Phil, politiciams have to be be very careful with their words. In the case the “in public” was probably superfluous and thus risky.

The “velvet revolution” on the island was always weak in terms of unity and policy. There has been no night of the long knives or even a purge but simply a tiny reshuffle.Now is the time to consolidate,strengthen and get on with the work. There are issues affecting the working class poor such as Austerity.There is also the problem of travelling on and off the island. No-one… Read more »
A lot of us voted for the Independents from the start as opposed to Pugh and co. We still want it to work. Some of us recognised Richard Priest as a closet Tory but this Independent of the Independents gave us the chance to get rid of the Boy Blunder.But recent activity seems to confirm the allegation. We, if you remember, had the audacity to label him… Read more »
Robert Jones
A lot in that I agree with, but outsourcing to Hampshire of education and children’s services wasn’t done by choice – we certainly didn’t vote for it, because we didn’t know (officially) the full depth of the crisis: we probably would have done if we had. Also agree that Richard is probably not one of nature’s political radicals, but a) he did defeat young David, and b)… Read more »
mike starke
With reference to my posting of 0231 this morning (tsk, tsk.. MUST have been up to no good!) and “tryme’s” riposte of 0548 (What? Up and about THAT early on a Sunday… Surely a bit suspicious?) I think the fact that we have all contributed 48 postings on what is a bit of a sideshow, compared with the crisis in public services faced by County Hall, rather… Read more »
For fear of also being thought coy, Mike, I’ll be frank and say I wondered if at that time on a Saturday night you may have been a bit tipsy! I don’t class that as being up to no good, though! I had a glass of wine myself, (not that you necessarily did drink anything), fell asleep early and woke up early too. I wish I could… Read more »
mike starke — It shouldn’t have been a ‘show’ at all, even a sideshow. More effort is being expended on grown men fighting between themselves in County Hall than is being expended on good governance. Maybe there are far too many councillors? Maybe political parties in local politics should be banned? I do know that this process is not in the public interest yet it is being… Read more »
Robert Jones
If political parties in local government were banned (and quite why THIS case should raise that question, since few of those involved are even members of political parties) you’d be straight back to the bad old days when the majority of Independents were actually died-in-the-wool Tories – some of them were perfectly good councillors, but it was never exactly a test to guess how they were going… Read more »

Surely a true Independent would not stand to be “whipped” into voting a certain way.

If Independents cannot vote with their consciences they are not “independent”

(In Westminster, whipping and the Honors system are corrupt and corrupting. Do not let the disease spread to local government.)

mike starke

62 (plus this one) readers’ comments on this relatively footling matter.

Meanwhile… tick, tock, tick, tock,

IW education is in chaos… tick, tock, tick, tock,

IW social services is in chaos… tick, tock, tick, tock,

IW housing is in chaos… tick, tock, tick, tock,

IW planning is… well; IW planning… tick, tock, tick, tock,

Oh. That annoying tick, tock, tick, tock?

It’s time running out for us having our own local authority, folks.


I daresay you can find recent pieces here on each of these areas Mike, post accordingly and get people talking. Why don’t you? Much more interesting to read than your carping from a topic you disapprove of.

There’s room here, as in life generally, for the lighthearted as well as the serious. Fortunately for us, perhaps disappointing for some, we’re not the Council debating chamber.