Nearly a month ago OnTheWight broke the story that the Isle of Wight council was actively considering disbanding the Island’s dedicated Coastal Management Team.
Internal council papers that OnTheWight has seen revealed that the decision on the fate of the world-renowned team will be made public this week.
This team is dedicated to keeping an eye on the Island’s coastline – the longest of any authority in England. It was them, for example, that raised the alarm on the huge Totland coastal movement earlier this year.
A short while after OnTheWight published, the Isle of Wight Association of Local Councils (IWALC) also went public about their concerns of the possible loss of the team.
Cllr Pugh defends action
Current council leader David Pugh then went on record at the last Full Council meeting before next month’s elections saying that disbanding the team was a good idea, saying that transferring some of the people to Roads PFI company, Island Roads, meant that it would end up a better service.
Those knowledgeable in the area have pointed out that as Island Roads is a commercial company and as such is only interested in anything that directly affects the Isle of Wight roads, pointing out that much coastal erosion doesn’t fall within this category
A period of non-controversial decisions
Due to the closeness of the elections, the council in a state called Purdah, where new or controversial initiatives have to, by law, be avoided by councillors.
People have questioned why something as controversial as disbanding the world-renowned team is not covered by this.
The reasoning – as the currently-ruling Conservative council passed their responsibility on council staff employment over to council directors under Delegated Powers, it slips through the ‘controversial change’ net.
Many have told OnTheWight that a decisions as fundamental to the future safety of the the Island’s coastline could alter the voting in the election of previously-enthusiastic Conservative voters.