IW Council leader accuses Ventnor council of ‘hysterical scaremongering’ over break up of Coastal Management Team

Following OnTheWight’s publication of a letter from the IW Association of Local Councils (IWALC) to council leader David Pugh over the restructure of the Coastal Management team, we have been copied in (along with all council members, IWALC members, the media and others) to the reply from Cllr Pugh.

David Pugh

In his response, Cllr Pugh accuses the Ventnor Town council of ‘hysterical scaremongering’ and ‘wild inaccuracies’ in their statement published last week. What follows is Cllr Pugh’s unedited response to John Medland. Ed

Dear John

Thank you for your letter.

I fear that you may have been taken in by the hysterical scaremongering which has been put out by Ventnor Town Council, and we are in the process of correcting the wild inaccuracies in their various pronouncements on this matter.

The letter you have sent me has been copied it to a wide range of individuals and organisations, including the media, without checking your facts first. As a result your letter is inaccurate on a number of counts and it is disappointing that in copying your letter so widely that you have misled all of those copied into your email. Although I appreciate that checking your facts first would not help you to create headlines with the media you copied this to. Why let the facts get in the way of a good story, eh?

It is particularly disappointing that you have chosen to issue this to the media without giving any apparent thought to those affected by what is a staffing matter that is currently under consultation.

The director of economy and environment is currently consulting staff on restructuring the directorate to ensure that it is fit for purpose and sustainable over the coming months. This takes into account that some of the responsibilities currently in this service area will be delivered under the Highways PFI contract in the near future.

Your statement that the decision was made by four officers with no right of appeal or a hearing is entirely inaccurate. No decision has yet been taken. The proposed restructure is following our agreed processes and consultation with staff is currently underway. The final structure will only be published once the consultation is complete and the views of staff taken into consideration. All employment rights are being and will continue to be met throughout this process.

It is nonsense to suggest that the internal staffing structure of the Council, now or in the future, has any bearing on the ability of householders to obtain insurance. Under the proposals currently being consulted on, the ability of the Council to monitor the Island’s coastline is intended to be enhanced rather than reduced. This is one of the facts you failed to check before issuing your inflammatory letter to the media.

Despite your ill-informed assertion, no decision as to the structure of the coastal management team has yet been taken, however when it is taken it will be a matter for the senior management of the Council to determine the most suitable structure and for members to satisfy themselves that the Council will continue to be able to deliver its priorities in an efficient and effective manner. Notwithstanding the fact that there may well be changes following the consultation process, we are satisfied that the proposed structure will ensure that the coastal management function will be resilient, effective and efficient in the future.

Whilst touching on the priorities of the Council in this respect, I would like to remind you of the fact that – thanks to this administration’s decision to accept a Highways PFI Grant from the Government – a number of roads around the Island, including many in coastal locations such as the Military Road, Bouldnor Road and the Undercliff, will benefit from stabilisation schemes over the next few years. These stabilisation schemes form part of our wider efforts to tackle the very issues which the Coastal Management function oversees.

Given the scale of the considerable improvements that will come into place as a result of the Highways PFI scheme, there is no doubt in my mind that the positive impact of such stabilisation schemes is of far greater significance to the future of the Island (and its coastline) than how the IW Council chooses to organise its internal staffing structure. The administration I lead recognises this because we are less interested in the finer detail of internal structures and more interested in getting on with the job through much-needed schemes such as these.

If you agree, I suggest that your concern in this respect should be more appropriately directed at those IW Councillors who voted against (or refused to support) the Highways PFI scheme (including some copied into your email) – as if their efforts had succeeded our roads (many by the coastline) would have missed out on these many significant improvements that are now due to come into place. If you would a like a list of these councillors, I will happily provide it to you – as you may wish to raise with them why they voted against investment in stabilisation schemes that are of critical importance to the future of the Island.

Kind regards, David
Cllr David Pugh | Leader of the Isle of Wight Council

Monday, 25th March, 2013 8:59am


ShortURL: http://wig.ht/2aCz

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Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.


  1. What pure and utter arrogance, he truely has lost the plot. The letter shows nothing but contempt. Under the Code of Conduct to which Mr Pugh has signed up it says you should treat others with respect. If he does feel that IWALC have got some points wrong fine, however, he did not have to write to Mr Medland in this way. David please remember the old saying “Manners maketh the man”. It might help in the coming weeks.

    • @sam salt. Respect went out of the window along time ago, along with all the other seven principles of the code of conduct. This ‘Leader’ is out of his depth and frantically drowning at the moment and his adoption of attack first is getting very boring and the sign of a desperate man. His new South African pit bull is from the same mould and actually created this latest debacle, to add to his glowing CV at the council, with sheer arrogance and contempt that he and they know ‘best’. Perhaps Hampshire has some spare capacity for Environment and Economy activities as well?

    • Not only does he live up to the name ‘Pugherile’ in spades, in places he appears lacking in basic literacy skills…

  2. quote “thanks to this administration’s decision to accept a Highways PFI Grant from the Government ” unquote

    Grant? is this correct?

  3. Good point Colin. A grant in my understanding does not have to be paid back. I think our Leader doesn’t understand the PFI concept at all. David, it is a loan, and has to be repaid. If you don’t understand this one fundamental perhaps those that voted against PFI or didn’t support it understood the concept more than you.
    Can you please let us have a list of all who did support it so we can put them right, and tell them that PFI is not a grant and must be repaid. We could also then thank them for putting us in hock for the medium term.
    Perhaps you should put a Thesaurus on your next Christmas List.

    • The Corrector

      25.Mar.2013 10:06am

      I’m sorry SS but you are wrong.

      It is a grant not a loan. It does not have to be repaid.

      However, alongside the grant, the council have committed to paying £7.3m per annum for 25 years plus inflation.

      This money goes to the PFI contractor in addition to the grant from the Government.

      • wightywight

        25.Mar.2013 10:15am

        @ the Corrector:

        That is what it is beginning to look like.
        To extrapolate all of this it seems the Island will be getting more roads looked after for the same money ..!
        About £18M worth of work each year instead of about £8M ..

        Can this be right..? Have the Government just handed over £260M to the Island…? Is there a catch…?
        It’s beginning to look a reasonable scheme….we need someone to identify the pitfalls (if they exist) correctly..


        • The Corrector

          25.Mar.2013 10:22am

          It’s always been that way. Reported on here by Sally and Simon many times.

          Yes, the government are handing over about £260m and this is being matched by £7.3m pa by the council.

          This money will have to be paid every year for 25 years, plus inflation, regardless of any other budget constraints, ie. PFI first, everything else afterwards.

          • Quote from an article in public finance dated 1st April: “For two decades the Private Finance Initiative has been the only game in town for financing public infrastructure. Now pressure is mounting for the private firms that have done so well out of it to put something back into the public coffers
            The last Labour government was a big fan of the Private Finance Initiative. As chancellor, Gordon Brown would castigate the PFI’s critics for putting new hospitals, schools and transport projects at risk. The alternative, he said, would be ‘reckless and unsustainable borrowing’.

            But, as many pointed out at the time, the PFI is itself a form of borrowing, even if its impact on the national statistics is deferred. While upfront capital is provided by private investors, the taxpayer ultimately funds the whole cost of any project. Now, that essential truth is becoming evident in communities across the country.

            Take the £256m Queen ­Alexandra ­Hospital in Portsmouth. This sparkling new facility was officially opened in October, and is undoubtedly one of the most impressive health care buildings in Europe. But the Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust is already struggling to meet the project’s £40m annual revenue cost. Its ability to pay was premised on achieving epic savings targets and big increases in activity, which failed to materialise. As a result, the trust has been forced to take out a £13m loan to pay its bills, while cutting 700 jobs and 100 beds. It is left with a £6m deficit and many more job losses are expected soon.

            Yet the scheme has proved profitable for the investors. Last June, Carillion, a construction group, sold its shares in the project to HSBC ­Infra­­structure Company Ltd for £31m – a healthy return on the £12m it put into the deal in 2006. It will, meanwhile, continue to manage the new PFI ­facilities under a concession worth about £30m a year.

            Answering a question on the Queen Alexandra deal in Parliament recently, Prime Minister David Cameron called the PFI programme a ‘shambles’ that he had inherited (although he was ­special adviser to Tory chancellor Norman Lamont in 1992, when the PFI was introduced). Cabinet Secretary ­Francis Maude described PFI profits as ­‘outrageous’ last month. The anti-PFI rhetoric is becoming more strident even as ministers approve huge new projects – the Royal Liverpool Hospital, signed off by Health Secretary Andrew ­Lansley in June, will be one of the ­largest PFI hospitals ever procured.”

            It indicates that PFI is a loan and surprisingly David Cameron says PFI is a shambles. Are you telling me Corrector that even the Prime Minister is wrong.

            There is lots more on the internet to indicate PFI is a loan. Devil in the content again, I suggest the yearly payback is part of the “loan”.

      • I think the devil is in the content. Let’s as the QA in Portsmouth, who received a PFI Grant/Loan/Gift what they understand they got. I think they are having problems paying back their loan. (Their words not mine).

  4. wightywight

    25.Mar.2013 10:01am

    It seems that the Council are insisting it is a grant:


    I suspect these answers are hiding other *detail* but, on the face of it, it seems this money is a *grant* from central government (one of three if you believe the PR)across the UK for this type of iniative.
    It’s curious isn’t it?
    On this information it seems the Government has handed (or will be handing)about £260M – inflation adjusted – which does not have to be repaid. In turn, the IOW will continue to pay *its* usual budget spend as well on top of this…they say that’s about £8M (ish) though still being negotiated…
    We need to be careful here….this is not looking quite how it has been imagined by a number of people……unless….you know better?


    • wightywight

      25.Mar.2013 10:09am

      Also, from the archive, this:


      Which has some interesting stuff in it.
      For example, the PFI in Portsmouth….. some budget data for current spend at the end and nothing about Coastal Management…


    • The Corrector

      25.Mar.2013 10:17am

      See my comment above. The figure the council have committed to pay is £7.3m pa for 25 years.

      Btw, I don’t agree with the PFI scheme, just keen to ensure that the correct FACTS are stated as there seems to be some confusion.

      • wightywight

        25.Mar.2013 11:10am

        My thoughts and feelings exactly.
        I’m getting ever more curious about how and why these schemes *appear* to be failing.
        If we are to believe the Council (and others..) there is a *grant* (I use the term very loosely) which central government have made to the Island and for which there is no repayment of the capital. The scheme appears to insist that the IOW pay into the scheme a sum each year roughly equivelant to the ‘usual’ annual spend on the road (etc) budget…not in itself an unreasonable expectation. So where does it all start to go wrong?
        There is something missing in all of this… some detail that is not clear or being given out.
        A fixed sum contribution (inflation adjusted) each year of £7.3M shouldn’t bring undue pressure on the IOW …and if you believe the PR.. we should be getting about £18M worth of road (etc) repairs each year for the £7.3M spend…
        Is this a case of …”if it looks to good to be true…it probably is”…?


        • James Luke

          25.Mar.2013 11:46am

          One immediate catch is that we are all national taxpayers.

          Therefore a “grant” from central government is NOT free money – we, as taxpayers, will be paying back that money for many, many years.

          At a time of increasing national debt, surely pouring money into the discredited PFI process is madness.

          The problem is that at a local level everyone believes they are getting a good deal – we are supposedly getting £18 million worth of roads investment for £8 million in spend. However, the people of Portsmouth also got a deal that was “too good to be true”. So did the people in every other county that has taken advantage of the PFI scheme. All these schemes add up and as taxpayers, we all pay through considerable increases in taxes.

          There is no free money!

  5. Was Blue, now feeling it

    25.Mar.2013 10:58am

    As someone who has voted Conservative, it’s really sad to read this (I’m sorry to say) petulant outburst from David Pugh and I fear it could be the undoing of him and damaging to the island’s Conservative vote as a whole. This doesn’t convey a caring party, but one filled with anger.

    All I can think, having read him repeat himself over and over at the start of the letter, was that he must have had a few drinks before he wrote this. Now, we all like a drink, but that sort of behaviour shouldn’t be going to if you’re conducting council business.

  6. Chris Welsford

    25.Mar.2013 11:21am

    I don’t think he was drunk.

    We have had to endure this type of behaviour from him in the Council Chamber at almost every Full Council Meeting and recently at Scrutiny too. He constantly accuses other members of what he terms “falsehoods”. These so called falsehoods are inevitably truths about his policies and their effects on Islanders.

    There was a short period about a year ago when I decided I had had enough of listening to him and I stayed away for a while. Then I realised that that was exactly what he wanted.

    The trouble is, he often has control of the meeting, the Chair is sympathetic to him and he has what seems like almost unlimited time to deliver his unpleasant messages.

    Essentially, I think he has got used to behaving like that and getting away with it, hence this quite unguarded attack on both David Bartlett and John Medland, which in turn is an attack on every IWALC member and anyone else who doesn’t agree.

    Sadly, the behaviour has distracted from the main issue – Coastal Protection.

  7. The trouble with David Pugh is that he’s a bit like the emperor in the emperor’s new cloths, in that he has surrounded himself with politicians and officers who tell him exactly what he wants to hear. He has the arrogance to assume that only he and his trusted advisors can see what is required. Unfortunately the people that he has decided to take advice from are either not qualified to give that advice, or choose to give advice that benefits their own position rather than that of the isle of wight.

    In May we have the opportunity to remove Pugh and his cronies. let’s make sure we make use of those votes. To get rid of Pugh, his pernicious party, and the senior officers that are in his pocket, vote anything but Tory

  8. James Luke

    25.Mar.2013 11:51am

    Councillor Pugh does of course have form for accusing those who object to his plans of “scaremongering”.

    In the case of the Asphalt Plant, when challenged he wasn’t able to provide any substance =>


  9. Robert Jones

    25.Mar.2013 12:13pm

    This is the problem with immediate response when you’re in a huff. In the old days, you could write a letter, put it in an envelope – but no stamp – and by the cold light of next day realize you can’t possibly say that, and rip the thing up. These days, communication is instant: more like rapid fire than placing a bomb carefully and waiting for it to go off, having calculated both time and target.

    As a seasoned, nay ancient, observer of these things I’d say that David Pugh was tired and fed up and allowed all his more negative instincts to override his political and personal judgement. You don’t write to a representative body on which a good few of your own members sit in language like this – not even checked for grammar, I see – even if you DO think that they’re talking through their fundaments.

    I’m not entirely unsympathetic to David Pugh – perhaps because I don’t work with him – since I’m sure he works hard and does his best. But on the strength of this letter, he needs a rest. It would be both unkind and too pointed to suggest that an opportunity for one is coming his way quite soon…..

  10. retiredhack

    25.Mar.2013 12:20pm

    So: David Pugh and Stuart Love have decided to throw the Coastal Management Team up in the air and see where the bits land. The people at the wrong end of this exercise have known for some time that this was going on, but the rest of us have only just found out because, until it was leaked, it was being treated (disgracefully) as an internal staffing matter.

    Now Pugh wants us to accept that people whose jobs are at risk will be upset to learn that that there is a public outcry at the potential loss of this centre of excellence, and thast is why the whole thing should have been kept secret until it was too late to do anything about it. To me, this argument lacks a certain intellectual depth.

    The latest manifestiation of Pugh’s congenital churlishness is something else. People like the Venntor Town Clerk and the secretary of IWALC are doing the job they’re paid for, and doing it very well. They shouldn’t have to put up with such rubbish.

    Chris Welsford, however, is right when he reminds us that main issue remains coastal protection. He has led from the front on this, unlike Ventnor’s other IW councillor, Susan Scoccia, whose chairmanship of the Council has done nothing to encourage democratic, or even civilised, debate.

  11. honest john

    25.Mar.2013 2:17pm

    poor blind Pugh. He cannot see what lies ahead for him if he does not listen to those he is supposed to represent

  12. Black Dog

    25.Mar.2013 9:08pm

    The above letter from the Boy Blunder only proves my theory:

    David Pugh is suffering from Hubris syndrome

    Hubris syndrome is characterized by a loss of contact with reality, a reckless and restless impulse ultimately ending in incompetence.

    It is also described as – an excessive self-confidence along with overwhelming contempt for others. Is hubris an exaggerated form of normal leadership characteristics? Or is hubris in political leaders an alarming personality disorder that causes harm to everyday people?

  13. Hubris indeed!
    Everyday people are already being harmed and will be continued to be harmed unless rational people get out and vote. Generations have fought long and hard for basic rights but boy blunder, living in cloud cuckoo land, actually believes his own trumpton town nonsense. As do a number of other die hard converts. Hubris is spreading and requires a swift attention before it becomes a badge of honour like ASBOs!! Don’t tell Don Smith.

  14. peaceful_life

    26.Mar.2013 12:15am

    Given the subject matter, it might be an idea to start throwing some context into this discussion.


    “With more solar energy going into the Arctic Ocean because of lost ice, there is reason to expect more extreme weather events, such as heavy snowfall, heat waves, and flooding in North America and Europe,” said the researchers.

    “These are the sort of changes that are going to affect us in quite a short timescale,” he warned. Last year saw record heat, rainfall, drought and floods in the northern hemisphere.

    Ok so….getting back on track, is this really the best time to be cutting back on a Coastal Management Team on the ‘Isle’ of Wight?

    On the off chance that decision makers may well read this blog, I’m urging you to start thinking outside of any professional/corporate obligations you feel you may have, and just lament on the ramifications and consequences at play here, this isn’t a dress reheral.

    The Guardian peice is just for ease, there are more detailed scientific links available.


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