Island Indies ‘were not involved in procurement, design or build of floating bridge’, simply securing funding

The leader of the Island Independent group reiterated they were not involved in the procurement, design or build of the floating bridge, but simply secured the funding.

debbie andre at the election by allan marsh

Cllr Debbie Andre shares this latest news, in her own words. Ed

The Leader of the Island Independent Group, Cllr Debbie Andre, has spoken out today following unjustified comments from Cllr Dave Stewart, the Leader of the Conservative administration in County Hall. 

Cllr Stewart claimed that the Conservatives “inherited the FB from the Independents” and that they had “not kept a tight handle on it”.

Conservatives said nothing
It’s important to note that the last Independent administration was a minority administration.

The Conservatives and their allies had the numbers to request a rethink on the Floating Bridge proposals under the former administration, especially as Cllr Stewart was Chair of Scrutiny at the time.  They didn’t.  

Opposition members do not currently have this same opportunity as they are outvoted. Also, many decisions are being made under delegated powers, thus avoiding effective scrutiny.

Indies not involved in procurement, design or build of vessel
Cllr Andre stated earlier today,

“The fact is that the Independents were responsible solely for accessing and securing the funding to replace the FB, which was coming to the end of its lifespan, and were not involved in the procurement, design or build of the vessel that was delivered. 

“This was carried out by a Project Board which included stakeholders and senior Council Officers but did not include any Councillors.  

“The project board were the people keeping a ‘tight handle’ on the project which was entirely a professionally qualified and operational matter as should have been the case from the outset.   Cllr Stewart knows full well that Councillors are not, nor should they be, involved in operational matters.”

Delivered after Conservatives seized power
The delivery of the FB took place in 2017, after the Conservatives had seized control of the IWC, and the vessel was brought into service.

Cllr Andre went on to say

“The Conservatives took delivery of the vessel and brought it into service without completing full trials.

“They then blamed public pressure to introduce the vessel into service, as the reason they did not complete those necessary trials and tests.

“Faults became apparent almost from the outset and yet they signed off this vessel as fit for purpose.  Clearly, the situation that now exists shows that this was a massive error of judgment by them.”

Rising costs
The Solent LEP say around £1.49million has been spent on the vessel since delivery and there has been a further £539,281 spent on the replacement passenger launch that has been frequently used to transport passengers across the River Medina during the FB suspensions.

Cllr Andre added,

“It remains unclear why the design agreed upon differed so much from the previous design. It would appear that the many remedial works that have been carried out since its installation have been ineffective and questions need to be asked why yet more money is being poured into modifications when the design is so obviously not fit for purpose.  

“Instead of dealing with the inherent faults in the FB, the Conservatives try to shake off their ongoing responsibilities by blaming the previous administration who were not involved in any part of the process of designing and building the replacement FB. 

“Clearly the Conservatives prefer to play  the ‘blame game’ approach instead of accepting their own failures and resolving this issue in a satisfactory way.”

Heavy congestion being predicted
Extensive road works at St Mary’s roundabout are due to start work on 30th September with heavy congestion on this route being predicted.  Apart from Newport centre, the only other vehicle route across the Medina river is the Floating Bridge.

The Floating Bridge is currently out of service for some three weeks which will mean that there will be a period of overlap when it’s likely that there will be gridlock around Newport, if the works for St Mary’s roundabout go ahead next Monday.

Blaming everyone but themselves
At an Extraordinary Full Council meeting called for by Cllr Julie Jones-Evans and four other opposition councillors to pause the works and reconsider the whole St Mary’s roundabout scheme, concern was raised by several opposition councillors regarding the ongoing unreliability of the FB and the impact that this will have once the works start.

Cllr Andre said,

“The public are tired of the Conservatives blaming everyone but themselves instead of dealing with the current problems efficiently and effectively.

“The time has come to hold those responsible for this failing to account, and then to go back to the drawing board with a bespoke design that will provide the vital service that Islanders deserve and rely on.”

The  Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee has been asked to look into  the ongoing unreliability of the FB as soon as possible.

Image: © With kind permission of Allan Marsh

Thursday, 26th September, 2019 2:19pm



Filed under: Cowes, East Cowes, Island-wide, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News, North Wight, Roads, Top story, Travel

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26 Comments on "Island Indies ‘were not involved in procurement, design or build of floating bridge’, simply securing funding"

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Alternative Perspective

…..but Conservatives are never wrong, and never say sorry. They simply blame anyone and everyone other than themselves.


Vote them out… not long to go …

Benny C
So – this warrants a Council meeting on its own. Mr Brodie, take the floor! 1. Establish exactly why the design was chosen, who is responsible for changes. What did experts say? Which supplier of services should and will be sued for compensation. What are the odds of success? 2. Publish names, explain accountabilities, endure this is unrepeatable through clear actions. If procurement contracts render legal action… Read more »
What everyone has missed here is that there was a full inquiry ….. no blame was laid at the previous administrations door. Doesn’t matter how many times the conservatives say it …. does not make it true. Trouble is we live in a political landscape where if lies are repeated over and over again people start believing it ….. and guess what ‘the people’ are not silly!… Read more »
Steve Goodman
Disgraceful Dave does himself and his con party no favours by adding to the now far too common poor political leaders’ litany of lies locally nationally and internationally. The emperors have no clothes. Our latest con PM’s long history of lying now includes misleading the monarch, Parliament, and the people, and recently being famously filmed denying that he was being filmed by the film crews he had… Read more »
Benny C
I guess elections are the ultimate accountability. Being told bluntly on many doorsteps that you’re simply not wanted is a harsh but accurate judgement. Judgements which shred the reputations of those who have squandered islanders money, judgements which, at some personal level, will haunt them forever. People will forgive them but they don’t forget. Their buddies will support them and rightly so, but in the back of… Read more »
It’s not the Independents’ fault; the staff (officers) made all of the decisions and wouldn’t let the councillors – whatever party – anywhere near what was going on. And it is the Conservatives who keep wasting our money on this floating bridge these last two-plus years! It’s over £2 million and counting wasted on a £3.2 million floating bridge! Would they buy a car for £32,000 and… Read more »

Please read the SLEP documents on this issue!

The idea that politicians chose not to have an overview of such an important project is a prime example of elected representatives abdicating their responsibilities. Councillors should have made it their business to be on a project board so they could ask questions of those delivering the thing. That is how democratic accountability works at any level works. That they failed to take any ownership of an… Read more »
Phil Jordan
Utterly wrong. No-one suggested there was not an overview of the replacement of the Fb. There was. Overview being the word. Not operational detail. However, in local government there are clear and distinct lines of responsibility…. elected Members set the Policies and the permanent officer staff deliver those and the general running of the Council in an operational way. Councillors MUST have made it their business NOT… Read more »

So Phil. So if, for example, the St Mary’s Roundabout scheme ends up being a total disaster, you will not be seeking to hold the current administration to account? They are not highway engineers after all.

And to suggest that councillors were not responsible for landing us with a dud floating bridge but they are for applying the engineering solutions to rectify past errors is just confused piffle.

Phil Jordan
Final time. The Independents secured the funding for the replacement floating bridge. A project board then oversaw the project from procurement to design and build. It is NOT a Councillor role to be involved in design and build projects. (How on earth they ever could be is completely beyond me.) Financial oversight was maintained. I am not blaming conservatives for the design and build of the Fb… Read more »
Phil. Why then, if politicians have no accountability for calamitous projects on their watch, did your former close colleague and Indy group leader Julia Baker-Smith call on David Pugh to resign when Cowes Enterprise College became over-spent, poorly built and behind time? To remind you, she said: “You (Pugh) are responsible for the Cowes Enterprise College building contract which is a shambolic disaster. The College is failing… Read more »
Ian Young
So, who on the project board was accountable for the public money they were spending? Nobody I suspect. Unfair it may be, but elected politicians are, and rightly should be, ultimately responsible for monies they spend, allocate, donate, lend or even acquire and pass on to third parties. That’s why we have elections, that’s why we elect councillors and MPs and that’s why many a politician and… Read more »
Phil Jordan
IY: The SLEP were members of an overall project steering group that managed that as part of the Southampton/East Cowes regeneration project. That was financial oversight and accountability for the public money. The Council also had overall *financial* oversight on the Fb project through the project steering group. That is entirely different to operational oversight of the project which was a design and build marine project. You… Read more »
Phil is correct. The Councillors role is governance, the Officers deal with operational and implementation. However from the outside eyes of a business owner locally looking in to County Hall, it seems neither the previous Indys – who gave a good impression of rabbits caught in headlights – or the current Conservative administration who seem to be micro managers – really get this right. The Floating Bridge… Read more »
I agree with you to a large extent, Jess, but what your post misses is the principle of political accountability. Amber Rudd never physically marched any of the Windrush victims out of the UK but took the blame for poor implementation on her watch. That is political accountability. The Indies seem to be saying it was nothing at all to do with us – it was all… Read more »
Benny C
Absolutely. Governance is a role – it basically means accountability for risks and controls. It means asking the right questions at a high level, like – show me that we are on budget, and on time. Tell me why the design has changed. Tell me about the experience and skills within the delivery team at IOWC. Tell me about our contractual relationships. What will be our remedy… Read more »

Well said Benny C and Ian Young (a former councillor with clearly more experience, understanding and awareness than some former councillors currently plying their ignorance).

Phil Jordan

Which is why there was a project steering group that did (some of) those things. See my link to the project structure groups in an earlier post.

The scheme oversight was in place. The operational delivery was in place. Councillors were involved in the first but not the second. As it should be.

Benny C
Sadly it seems we have a long way to go if that’s how the island is governed. In the private sector an approach like that would not be tolerated. The delivery phase is just another stage of the overall project and the ‘non executive’ oversight role changes but it doesn’t disappear or get handed over to others. The delivery team and the planning team might well be… Read more »

I suggest that anyone who believes that “Island Indies ‘were not involved in procurement, design or build of floating bridge’, simply securing funding” should read the appropriate SLEP meeting notes

Phil Jordan

Link and evidence please Tim…..?


Find it yourself Phil, you’re just as capable as anyone else of trawling through the meeting notes!

Phil Jordan
Check any of the documents on that page (link below) including the minutes of project group meetings…. membership of the project group(s) is very clearly listed. By the way, I attended a number of the SLEP meetings in Portsmouth prior to the funding being granted. We were arguing with them at the time for the funding to be included in the Southampton/East Cowes (Red Funnel) regeneration… Read more »

You forgot to mention the bit where a fixed Medina crossing failed to make the shortlist, the only consideration being either no FB vs FB6