Fate of Coastal Management Team hangs in balance

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. Many fear it will be disbanded.

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.

Dedicated team
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.

Image: flissphil under a CC BY 2.0 license

Location map
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  1. Diane Etherton

    15.Apr.2013 4:08pm

    It’s time Councillor Pugh stopped being so arrogant and thought about the effect this will have on the Island.

  2. Billy Builder

    15.Apr.2013 4:15pm

    Unfortunately as the post of Principle Engineer requires a degree qualified individual with many years professional experience, it is not appropriate for the Council retain such a person. To do so would mean having someone on-board that actually knows what they are doing. How could David Pugh or Stuart Love hope to pull the wool over the electorate’s eyes, with people in post that can expose the lies.

  3. Craig from Bembridge

    15.Apr.2013 4:16pm

    What reason is being given to break up this highly respected team of coastal engineers? Could it be penny pinching?

    How about cutting some of the larger salaries of senior officers back to reasonable levels and clawing back the payoff given to Beygnome?

    Surely that will help a bit.

  4. Stuart Love has been told that coastal management team MUST be kept for the time being and plans to disband this team are to be squashed.
    This could be construed as taking note of consultation, valuing of the service, all-round good practice (for an Island!)or quite simply poltically motivated to create a doomsday scenerio and then to be seen to ‘listening’ and ‘caring’.
    Watch the council website for updates (not).

  5. If this is true (and I suspect that it might be) David may live to regret accusing Ventnor Town Council of ‘hysterical scaremongering’.

  6. Chris Welsford

    16.Apr.2013 7:58am

    I have been working to prevent this from happening. I am the IWC representative at SCOPAC, the Standing Conference on Problems Associated with the Coast. I attended SCOPAC just after the proposal was announced and delegates that I told were shocked at the lack of foresight displayed. For us to retain and attract the funding we need to research these issue, we need a credible team managed by a respected expert.


    This is not just about the function of coastal protection and management. It is about the expertise that Stuart Love’s proposals would lose. I have developed a good working relationship with our local Coastal Management Team based at Salisbury Gardens.

    Proposals by the Conservative Ruling Group to destroy this beacon of scientific and engineering excellence, built up over the last 30 years, are completely unacceptable. If Independents are elected with a majority, which is looking likely, we would reinstate this essential service immediately.

    In my view, Ventnor’s safety and that of many parts of the Island depend on this.

    Chris Welsford Independent Candidate for Ventnor East

    • Billy Builder

      16.Apr.2013 8:35am

      Hi Chris,

      The point that you have made about Stuart Loves proposal loosing expertise is absolutely right. It is difficult enough for an island such as the Isle of Wight to attract people of the right calibre to fill these essential roles, but the more the island deskills the more difficult it will be to get the right people.

      Following the failure in both Children Services and Education as a direct result of actions taken by Steve Beynon, Stuart Love and Ian Anderson to panda to David Pugh’s distorted views, the island has lost essential staff needed to run those services. The skills and capabilities required to run those services will now be employed in Hampshire, rather than being filled on the island. It will now be extremely difficult to get people back on the island with the necessary skill set, as the function no longer exists within IOW Council.

      There is a very great danger, that if Pugh and Love have there way, the Island will deskill to the point where it is no longer viable for the Council to function as an independent entity.

  7. Boy Blunder and Stuart ‘Tainted’ Love’s position on the coastal management team is now showing some signs of cracks and distress as they need to do some serious back-peddling and humble pie eating.
    Hubris, arrogance and pig-headedness come naturally but honesty and integrity are completely alien concepts for these gentlemen…sorry slip of the tongue!!
    Landslides in Newport/Cowes yes but we dont want them around our shores thank you.

  8. wight paul

    16.Apr.2013 10:32pm

    Can’t understand how one or two people can have such a control over what happens, Pugh and Love can’t really know or care what our coast needs, yet they’ll decide who stays, and who goes because know best.

  9. Jonathan Bacon

    16.Apr.2013 10:57pm

    Chris Welsford and I have arranged to meet with Stuart Love tomorrow (Wednesday) to challenge this proposed decision. I hope that, at least, the decision can be postponed so that it can be properly assessed after the election, although, like Chris, I am firmly of the view that the current proposal is bad.

    Jonathan Bacon
    (Independent: Brading, St Helens and Bembridge)

  10. Chris & Jonathan,
    Clearly Stuart Love will agree/promise to anything today and a postponement is very likely (which is a good thing for the Island) – but he is also playing a tactical game for his own future as the council’s senior officer after the election.
    Ask yourselves could you really work with a person who is so ‘close’ to all that is wrong with this administration, who has such a flimsy and wooly background?
    Be careful what you wish for?
    These are changing times don’t forget.

  11. If this scaremongering suggestion is true then it’s even more shocking than the sacking of all tourist information centre staff.

    Thousands of people’s homes, the safety of Island roads and footpaths, natural habitats, coastal businesses, tourism and the whole Island economy – they’re all affected by what happens to the coast.

    We need people who know what they’re doing to keep an eye on the coast and to make the case for any action we need to take.

    Sadly the people charged with the responsibility to oversee the management of the Council don’t seem to be able to think rationally at all.

    But then only a third of Island voters actually bother to vote, and since enough of the people who did voted for the irrational people now in charge, I can’t see much hope unless more people get out on 2 May and, next to the names of more responsible and intelligent people, make two small pencil marks on a bit of paper. Not asking that much, is it?

  12. Please read the Island Independents document FRAMEWORK FOR THE FUTURE on line- they have promised that if they get in on May 2nd and the present administration have gone ahead with disbanding of this team- under the Independents IT WILL BE FULLY REINSTATED.


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