Residents and businesses angry at apparent dual standards over road closure (Updated)

The council have so far failed to justify why it’s not OK for residents to access their own property, but it’s OK to create a special rule for a fully-loaded boat, trailer and Land Cruiser to pass by the same building. Residents and businesses are unhappy.

pier street road closed

It’s over four weeks since Pier Street in Ventnor was closed due to the partial collapse of the front of a house on the corner of Pier Street and Alexandra Gardens.

Since the evening of 11th July, access to the Winter Gardens and Ventnor’s popular seafront via Pier Street has been forbidden after the Isle of Wight council ordered Island Roads to close the road.

Well, not for everyone it seems.

Special case made for Cheetah Marine
Several residents got in touch with OnTheWight last week to report the road being reopened late at night to allow the transfer – through the blocked Pier Street – of two boats down to Cheetah Marine boatbuilders on the seafront.

An eye witness described what they saw as a fully-kitted out boat being towed by a Land Cruiser and another large vehicle towing a boat hull. This was followed by the return journey to take the trailers back up the Cascade, through Pier Street again.

The movement of vehicles took place whilst most us were tucked up in bed between 11pm and midnight on Tuesday (1 Aug).

Resident and businesses ask – Why two sets of rules?
It’s understandable that Cheetah Marine would want to be able to carry out their business of building boats, which requires them to transport boats between their two sites – seafront and up in the town. What’s got residents and other businesses confused is why the council is allowing special rules for them.

Residents (including those from the property next door) who have not been able to gain access to their own property for four weeks – with the council telling them it was ‘unsafe’ – are wondering why the same council has decided that it’s OK for a fully-loaded boat, Land cruiser and trailer to pass by the same building, through Pier Street, but they’re not able to gain access on foot to retrieve their personal items.

Seafront traders: Hopping mad
Many traders on Ventnor’s seafront have been hopping mad that the usually easy flow of cars from Ventnor town to the sea front have been hampered by the four week closure of Pier Street – the road is the primary means of getting between the two parts of the town. This closure is leading, they say, to a loss of trade for them during the usually busy Summer season.

Many point to it taking the council/Island Roads over a week to even set up the diversion boards to guide the traffic around the block, after businesses and residents had been requesting this since the first day of the road’s closure.

Unanswered questions
Having been approach by several residents, OnTheWight posed the following question to the IWC over a week ago. At the time of publishing, the council has failed to provide a response.

Given the road has been closed since the partial collapse of the building in Alexandra Gardens and residents of the adjoining property have also not been allowed to enter building for over three weeks because they’re been told it was unsafe – How was it thought that driving large vehicles and trailers loaded with boats and boat hulls could be judged to be safe, but people entering their houses, on foot, to access their possessions is not?

What date is it intended that the road be reopened and neighbours be let back into their houses?

We understand from a resident who wrote directly to the IWC, that a member of staff in building control gave permission for the road closure to be lifted for the transfer of boats.

Weight restriction now in place
Interestingly, two days after the road closure was opened overnight for Cheetah Marine, the IWC issued a new road closure order for the small section of Pier Street from the junction of Albert Street and Alexandra Gardens, a one-way route (downhill) for the cascade (Shore Hill), and a weight restriction for Hambrough Road (7.5 tonnes).

The question on many people’s lips in town is, “Why one rule for one person and another for the rest of us?”

Reply from the council
It’s taken over two weeks for the Isle of Wight council to reply to the two simple question OnTheWight asked about this movement. Here’s their reply:

The partial collapse of the property in Alexandra Gardens left the building in a very unsafe condition. Due to the height of the building, a further collapse could have affected anyone well outside of the site boundaries and on the evening of the incident it was considered necessary to close Pier Street.

Subsequent to this, there was a further collapse on the 19 July. The owners arranged for internal propping of the floors and roof to be undertaken to prevent the risk of a further major collapse, but there was still a risk of debris falls and the road closure and cordon therefore needed to remain in place until the building had been made safe on 11 August.

Prior to the road closure being lifted, the council was contacted by a company who requested if it would be possible for the road to be opened for a short period of time late in the evening to allow a large vehicle movement .

Clearly there was some risk associated with this, but after taking account of all factors, including the reduced risk of a major collapse due to the temporary propping and the very short time that the vehicle would take to pass the building, it was considered that this controlled vehicle movement was acceptable. Allowing residents to enter the property, however, would have resulted in them passing directly alongside the collapsed part of the building and directly exposing them to the risk of falling debris, and the risk of someone being injured in this way was considered too great.

The decision to close the road was not taken lightly. We understand the disruption that this road closure caused and appreciate the patience of residents and businesses affected. We are sure that anyone who saw the building will appreciate the danger that this building posed and that the safety of people must take precedent.

We would very much have liked to have opened the road and allowed residents back into their properties sooner. However, the works to make the property safe were not directly within the council’s control and the property owners acted as promptly as possible given the difficult circumstances.

Update: 21 Aug 2017: Added response from IWC

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Friday, 11th August, 2017 3:43pm

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

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

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13 Comments on "Residents and businesses angry at apparent dual standards over road closure (Updated)"

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steephilljack

Pier Street was opened today…

garypeace
Reports that Pier Street was opened for a “one off” boat movement by Cheetah Marine are quite correct. I was contacted by Ventnor Town Council with a request that the road be opened to allow the transport from Cheetahs factory in Ventnor Industrial Estate down to the seafront for final fitting out. The only other road open and available(Bath Road) is not suitable for long vehicles. This… Read more »
carl

So why not just say all that publicly beforehand?

Why was cheetah marines move done in the dead of night instead of simply explained as it should have been. Surely risk was increased significantly with a lack of daylight.

Closing the barn door after the horses bolt.

garypeace
Dear Carl, It goes without saying that safety is always the first priority. Cheetah Marine always try to do their boat movements late at night in order to minimise the disruption and traffic congestion that is caused by moving a large load around Ventnor’s roads. It’s as simple as that. This has nothing to do with barn doors. Gary Peace Councillor for Ventnor (West) Cabinet Member for… Read more »
carl
Thats strange – you said previously that this was a one off. Now you say that Cheetah always move their boats at night. Transparency is (or should be) priority for the council. This could have been publicised by telling OTW about it first, explained clearly and reasons given. Instead, a movement at the dead of night has the appearance of something underhand, whatever the true reason (which… Read more »
carl

Also – OTW asked about this a week ago.

Why has the council failed to respond to this before publication?

Barn doors – absolutely. You are attempting to explain this after an embarrassing story has been published, instead of simply explaining it when asked about it, or before it happened.

lardi

Do I spot a split in the ranks? Ventnor East IOW councillor “complaining” and Ventnor West IOW councillor “explaining”

carl

I’ve not seen any complaints from Graham Perks anywhere.

peterj

That’s Lord Perks to the likes of you.

bigj

Dual standards on ventnor sea front
Surely not??????????

And still no mention as to who the cowboy builders were that have blighted the homes of four families, as well as the seafront.

davimel
Oh please!!! Let’s get this in proportion here. As we ALL know, the rules for certain businesses are quite seperate from the rules for us mere mortals. How could the poor householders evicted from their properties after a massive building blunder that was (or should have been) overseen by a building inspector and possibly a planning department be at all relevant to our wonderful Council? The sweet… Read more »
electrickery

Get real, people! Cheetah is a successful local business and we have to assist such enterprises: moving one load under controlled conditions without inconvenience or risk to others stikes me as eminently sensible.

I suspect the real problem is the lawyers squabbling over who is to blame (ie should pick up the costs, including theirs) for the collapse in Alexandra Terrace.

carl
If one large load is able to be moved, then there is no reason not to open the road. Cheetah is a local business – so is EVERY OTHER business on the seafront who have suffered from lack of access. Should exceptions be made for all? Surely you are not advocating one rule for Cheetah and another for every other business? What has annoyed people is not… Read more »
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