We always welcome a Letter to the Editor to share with our readers – unsurprisingly they don’t always reflect the views of this publication. If you have something you’d like to share, get in touch and of course, your considered comments are welcome below.
This from Christina Nicholson in Ryde following the delegate decision made by Cllr Ian Ward earlier this week. Ed
Why is the Isle of Wight Council at odds with its own MP?
In his maiden speech he said:
“I welcome the Government’s commitment to social housing and starter housing from the bottom of my heart. I find it difficult to explain to my fellow Islanders why rich property developers were able to build houses there that most of my constituents could not afford. We do not need large-scale projects, which are heartily disliked by many Islanders. They do significant cumulative damage to our precious landscape, on which much of our tourism—which accounts for half our economy—depends.
“We do, however, need genuinely affordable projects to provide homes for Islanders, and we will work with the Government to build them. Our Island plan should reflect that. For my Islanders, housing is hope, especially for the younger ones.”
Letter to Cllr Ward
In view of this statement by Mr Seely I wrote to Cllr Ward, who has made the extraordinary unilateral decision of imposing a transport restriction order (TRO) on Hope Road purely for the benefit of a developer.
We should bear in mind that Cllr Ward was an army engineer for 30 years and was a member of the Institute of Road Transport Engineers.
“IRTE supports transport engineers throughout their careers and encourages high standards, with an emphasis on safety and best practice.”
Pointing the finger elsewhere
However, in my view, Cllr Ward takes no responsibility for his actions, much like the Cowes floating bridge fiasco.
Cllr Ward alone made the unilateral decision to place an TRO on Hope Road. I asked Cllr Ward why, when he could have refused it. However, instead of taking responsibility for his actions, Cllr Ward pointed the finger at the government, council officers and highway engineers for placing developers over Island residents.
“IW Council bound to comply with government policy”
I think the one paragraph that sums up the stupidity of Cllr Ward’s decision and decisions made by the current planning office is the spin they try to put on housing development on the Island.
The paragraph used by Cllr Ward was,
“The IW Council and every other council are directed by government policy to allow the building of a defined number of homes per year. Mr Seely MP does not agree with that policy for the IW and is seeking to get the IW exempt from that policy. Until that is achieved the IW Council is bound to comply with the government’s policy as it currently stands.”
For me, this above statement reads,
“All developers are welcome to exploit the Island and ignore the wishes of Island residents. If you wish to build outside the development area just threaten us with court action and we’ll give in.”
Rejected planning app returned by Head of Place
Hope Road was outside the development area and planning was originally refused.
The council was informed by the then Head of Place that legal action would be taken against the council, so it appeared to many that the council just caved in when permission was given.
Not one thought for the destruction of an historic farm or the subsequent impact on the residents of Hope Road.
Their objections and those of their elected representative have been ignored by Cllr Ward, such is the arrogance of this man that it brings the whole council into disrepute.
Time for Ward to go
If Cllr Ward is incapable of accepting responsibility for the implications of his unilateral decision, it is time for him to go.
In my view, Cllr Ward, despite his 30yrs service as a transport engineer, is in a position that is beyond his capabilities and residents are suffering because of it.
Crowdfunding for legal action
I believe there are a lot of unanswered questions about how the Hope Road situation arose and I hope the residents of Hope Road take the same path as the original owner of the land.
That is, to threaten the council with legal action. If this council will not listen to residents or give a reasoned response as to why they acted the way they have, then perhaps they’ll be forced to listen to legal argument.
I am happy to put money into the pot to kick off crowdfunding. The Island’s house building situation cannot continue in its current form.
MP needs to act now
Given the above, I contacted Bob Seely MP to ask what progress he had made since issuing his statement. I further asked if he would be supporting the residents of Hope Road in getting answers. I am awaiting his reply.
If Mr Seely wants our young people to stay on the Island and make it a better place, then he needs to act now.
If there is going to be house building then let it be appropriate and, more importantly, affordable. Otherwise it’s just meaningless talk.