The leader of the Isle of Wight Council has written to the Prime Minister to remind him of his commitment to an ‘Island Deal’.
In his letter to Boris Johnson, Cllr Dave Stewart requested an update on the Prime Minister’s promise of extra government help made during the 2019 Conservative Party leadership election campaign and repeated during a Brexit debate in the House of Commons later that same year.
Stewart: This deal is really important to the Island
Cllr Stewart said,
“I am confident this is something that is still on the Prime Minister’s agenda, but I recognise he has his hands full dealing with the challenges of a pandemic, Brexit and rebuilding the nation’s economy.
“Nevertheless, I just wanted to remind him that this deal is really important to the Island and will make us better able to deal with these same challenges.”
£6.4m additional costs
In his letter, Cllr Stewart highlighted research carried out by the University of Portsmouth which found the additional cost of providing local government services on the Island was £6.4 million more than other authorities.
Cllr Stewart wrote,
“This uplift would enable us to continue to ‘balance the books’ and address our ever increasing budget gap (currently £3.5m each year for the next three years) inline with our medium term financial strategy.
“I appreciate that the wider Fair Funding Review has been delayed because of the pandemic, but there is still the opportunity for the government to bring forward an initial settlement for the Isle of Wight in recognition of our circumstances. I would therefore ask you and the Chancellor to consider this approach.”
Stewart: We’ve done our part
Cllr Stewart and the Isle of Wight Conservative MP, Bob Seely, have been pushing hard for an Island Deal to secure additional government money to reflect the Isle of Wight’s challenges as an island.
In his letter, copied to Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and to the Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick, Councillor Stewart said the council “had done our part so far”, such as acquiring the Venture Quays site in East Cowes to secure jobs in marine manufacturing and increase the supply of affordable housing.
He also highlighted the important role the Island community had played in piloting the NHS Covid-19 contact tracing App which has since been rolled out nationally to slow the spread of Coronavirus.
Coronavirus has hit local economy particularly hard
Cllr Stewart continued,
“We are now looking to the future with a range of ambitious initiatives to help the Isle of Wight on the road to recovery from the challenges of Coronavirus, which have hit our local economy particularly hard.”
Meanwhile, council officers have also been in contact with officials at the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) setting out the authority’s fragile financial position due to the pandemic.
News shared by Isle of Wight council press office. Ed