Isle of Wight Conservative MP, Bob Seely has today (Tuesday) published his ‘Island Manifesto’, setting out his ambitions to “improve lives and prosperity” on the Isle of Wight.
The manifesto (embedded below) looks at key areas such as housing, transport, health and education.
Bob says that a campaign for the Island to receive a better government funding deal, “could” mean an extra £6 million a year goes to the Isle of Wight council (who have seen cuts of £75m to the revenue budget since 2010).
Seely: What is achieved, not who does it
“In this document, I offer a vision of what we should aim to achieve to make our Island even better.
“My role is often to support others, to make connections in Westminster and Whitehall – and to bring people together.
“For many of these projects to succeed, I will need to work with others. Ultimately, it is what is achieved that matters, not who does it.”
Seely spent a decade thinking about issues
Although only elected as MP in last June’s snap election, Bob says he’s spent a decade thinking about the issues the Isle of Wight faces,
“I am aware that by proposing new things, and a personal vision, I am opening myself to both scrutiny and potential criticism. As far as I know, I am the only MP to produce a detailed vision of what his or her constituency should look like after being elected.
“However, I would rather outline an ambitious plan for the Island and, working with others, see how much of it we can achieve, rather than be timid in our vision.”
Highlights of the manifesto
- The manifesto looks at attracting higher education to the Island, creating high-technology jobs in the digital industries by making use of some of the country’s best broadband speeds, extending the Island Line, creating more cycle ways and making ferries company enter into a public service obligation.
- Other areas include protecting the environment while developing homes the Island needs to build communities not just houses.
- It also says the Island needs a jobs agenda to attract high-quality jobs and also training for local people to be employed in them.
- The manifesto proposes the Island needs to celebrate and show its cultural and artistic heritage to the world through partnerships with the Arts Council and London museums and galleries to attract visitors and create jobs.
Lowthion: “A vision which is unsustainable with being a Conservative MP”
In response to the manifesto, Isle of Wight Green Party spokesperson, Vix Lowthion told OnTheWight,
“The islandvision outlined by Bob Seely – with little detail of how he will achieve it – is for an Island which works for the wealthy. He supports moving health services off the Island and reducing facilities at St Mary’s – but doesn’t outline how we can access them.
“He supports the Island becoming a National Park – but fails to acknowledge how this will increase house prices way outside of the budget of the ordinary Islander.
“He talks of promotion of Arts and Sciences – whilst supporting huge cuts to school budgets and the reduction in arts provision for our kids.
“His vision of the Island is not sustainable for us residents – for our self sufficiency in terms of energy, food and public services. And the crux of his plan relies upon his own government having to overturn their own policy of slashing council funding.
“It is a vision which is unsustainable with being a Conservative MP – and this is why so much of it will never happen.”
Critchley: Just a “a wishlist and a PR exercise”
Julian Critchley, Isle of Wight Labour’s spokesperson told OnTheWight,
“It’s hard to take seriously anything which involves the quote, ‘Thanks to the Highways PFI, we will soon have the best roads in Europe’. And unfortunately, this isn’t a serious document.
“This is a wishlist and a PR exercise. Mr Seely is a Tory MP in a Tory government which is desperate for every vote, to the extent that they’ve already bribed the DUP in Northern Ireland with billions of pounds to secure their support.
“So I think Islanders will be rather disappointed that all Mr Seely has managed to win for the Island is a jargon-filled brochure with not one actual solid commitment backed up by real cash for the Island.”
He went on to say,
“It is, however, always going to be a difficult sell to persuade people you are interested in improving life on the Island, when you loyally vote for the policies of a Conservative government which, over the last eight years, has hammered the Isle of Wight with crushing austerity, overseen the chaos in our schools, introduced plans to move St Mary’s services to the mainland, and removed vital funding for adult and children’s social care.
“So perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that Mr Seely has to fall back on repeated references to ‘vision’, and a few pretty pictures of the Needles.”
Stuart: Four major gaps
The leader of the Isle of Wight Liberal Democrats, Nick Stuart, told OnTheWight,
“As an Islander I welcome Bob’s document and agree with many of the concerns and suggestions. But I want to highlight four major gaps.
“The proposed transfer of acute NHS services from the Island with travel costs and family isolation will lead to additional suffering. It is his Government who failed to fully support the NHS and I would urge him to try to save what we have first.
“For business we need to address all issues such as planning, premises, skills access, business rates and local services. The Council’s regeneration approach shows little signs of success and I do not see the Conservatives listening to business concerns nationally or locally.
“His figures on education hide the squeeze admitted by the Government and as a former teacher I’m strongly opposed to the community damaging of closure of local 6th forms.
“On environment a national park would be welcome, but with this Government its unreal. I see words over deeds for example there is minimal money in the “fabulous” PFI contract focused on cycling.
It is unfair not to note good points, as with his views on social housing, protection of the rural environment and the failure of the Conservative privatisation of the ferries we could make him welcome to our party!”
Read the manifesto in full below (click on the full screen icon to see larger version) or visit the Island Vision Website.
[Ed Opinion: It’s great to see Bob supporting Isle of Wight photographers with the use of their photos in his manifesto – it would have been good to also see credits for the photographers too.
Update: We have learnt that Bob’s office paid for the use of the images, so no credit needed. Good to see him supporting local business. Ed ]
16.50: Comment from Julian Critchley added
18.7.2918 10am – Comment from Nick Stuart added