Letter: Isle of Wight council have only one option available for floating bridge

This reader believes the Isle of Wight Council has only once choice when it comes to sorting out the floating bridge fiasco.

disembarking the floating bridge - karl love

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 by Colin McCourt of East Cowes about the Cowes floating bridge. Ed


Floating bridge 5, during its operating life, made a good profit for the Isle of Wight Council. This was clear profit, after all staff, fuel, maintenance and other operating costs had been taken into account.

That money was consistently used to fund holes in the council budget instead of ring-fencing it to fund any replacement bridge that would be needed once FB5 reached its end of life.

FB6 not fit for purpose
Floating bridge 6 has been shown to be unreliable, infrequent and not fit for purpose, which, in my opinion (and that of others) will now return a loss. Regardless of the thinking of the council, a substandard bridge doesn’t work. We can’t just “make do” because making a loss means that they will continue to eat into funding needed elsewhere in the council budget.

In a time where the council is already looking at reducing funding for youth, this should be unacceptable.

Unacceptable delays
The increased traffic through the Fairlee Road, the link, and the roads to Cowes, due to people not accepting the delays and unreliability.

People will only use the floating bridge if they see that it saves them time/money in relation to travelling round through Newport.

Currently this is not the case. This situation will only get worse as more houses are built on both sides of the Medina.

The options
Once the council finally realises that the FB is costing it money they have a number of options. They are:

  1. Continue to fund the losses for the 20 year life of FB6. Not acceptable to taxpayers or the council budget holders, as someone will have to pay somewhere.
  2. Increase fares (again). I believe that this would just force more people into travelling round, as more people would realise that it is cheaper to do so. This would then begin a downward spiral as having yet fewer users would create increased loses above that predicted currently.
  3. Take out a low interest loan and fund a proper bridge that is fit for purpose. Taking FB5 design and updating it appears to be the simple solution. Although there is an upfront cost, over the life of the floating bridge, the loan could be paid back and a profit made by the end. However, the council leader appears to be only interested in the short term, not what is best for the Island in the long term. Having said they are willing to borrow up to £100m for speculative investments, they might be better looking closer to home rather than further afield.

Killing businesses
There is no doubt that this unsuitable floating bridge is killing businesses on both sides of the Medina and the increased redirected traffic is making Newport a “no-go area” at times.

East Cowes, Cowes and Newport Town Councils are all unhappy with the current situation, which will not change whilst the current floating bridge remains. Large businesses are unhappy with what has been happening and I am sure, will be considering legal action as, no doubt, promises will have been made for them to invest in our Island.

Leader of IWC not interested
Leader of the Isle of Wight council, Cllr Dave Stewart, has already said he is not interested in the short term, looking instead towards a road bridge further up the Medina.

Even if money was made available it would take 10-15 years for this to happen, if at all.

This wouldn’t help pedestrians to and from both towns and launches tend not to be profitable, unless there is a substantial hike in fares once again (Look at what was charged by the ferry taxi etc when the floating bridge was unavailable).

Create a worthwhile legacy
The current councillors (politicians) didn’t design or project manage this unsuitable floating bridge, so they have an opportunity to create a worthwhile legacy by taking option three above.

However they appear to be hiding behind supposed “legal” issues, which everyone can see through as a smokescreen, to try and in my view protect those who are culpable and should never be allowed to manage another project on this Island again.

It’s a simple choice:

  1. Unsuitable bridge: Make a loss and eat into other budgets across the Island.
  2. No bridge: No profit and continuing decline of East and West Cowes
  3. New/(possibly altered) bridge: Profit within the life of the bridge, looking long term.

Properly managed project
Time for a new bridge, designed using good engineering practice and managed by properly qualified project managers and systems engineers.

Trying to cut corners and use unqualified people has got us where we are today.

Image: © Karl Love

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Tuesday, 9th January, 2018 3:33pm

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

Filed under: Cowes, East Cowes, Island-wide, Letter to the Editor

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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27 Comments on "Letter: Isle of Wight council have only one option available for floating bridge"

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tosh
Very well written CM all we need now is for this council to put aside party politics and think and work for the people on each side off the river,the old Fb5 made a profit off about £600,000 per year so far FB6 has cost over £800,000 since it came in to use in may and most off that money went to contractors who ran the jenny… Read more »
tapwash

Building a road bridge further up stream may be a way to ease congestion caused by through traffic in Newport but it must not be forgotten that the main purpose of the floating bridge is to link East Cowes with Cowes. It was never intended to be a short cut to Ryde.

Caconym

Indeed.

There are two issues that the floating bridge is supposed to address. Joining East and West Cowes and reducing congestion in Newport.

Currently it does neither.

A two factor solution would seem the answer. A road bridge further up river and a pedestrian bridge or tunnel joining the town’s.

eastcowes
It worries me that they are trying to test this floating bridge for acceptance in the most favourable conditions – little river traffic, few pedestrians, few cars….if I were testing out something to buy, I want to know that it will work in the worst conditions. The bridge has to be frequent and reliable to use it, and if it slows down or grounds itself during the… Read more »
sjk1000

“East Cowes, Cowes and Newport Town Councils are all unhappy with the current situation”
“East Cowes, West Cowes and Newport Town Councils are all unhappy with the current situation”

sjk1000

Downvote?

Caconym

You probably upset someone. I get downvotes against every post, usually within minutes.

Voting system is broken, anyway and not worth paying attention to.

Sally Perry

What do you mean the voting system is broken? Not as far as we’re aware. It all seems to be working fine.

electrickery

Quite often pressing one button causes an increment in both.

greatergood
They say it’s broken Sally, because like our democracy the majority vote for or against something and the minority don’t like it if it doesn’t go their way! I’ve had downvotes just because I’ve said something I wanted to. Do I let the votes against my comment bother me? Ummmm… No! Still it’s the same select few putting their views up dominating the threads saying the same… Read more »
Caconym

No.

I say it is broken because it is broken.

Come back when you know what you are talking about.

Sally Perry

Wow!

greatergood

Hmmm it’s broken because Caconym is openly dishonest and has even gone to the lengths of explaining how he rigged the votes!
You have just confirmed my suspicion that you are indeed a not very nice person and now outed as dishonest too!

Caconym

I was explaining how the voting system *can* be rigged you humongous idiot.

If I was as “dishonest” as you suggest, do to *seriously* think I would have given the game away?

You really were at the back of the queue when they were handing out the brains, weren’t you?

eastcowes

Your language is downright abusive, Caconym. Does it really matter? If someone is so desperate to stuff the ballot box with up or down arrows to pretend that their point is right in ‘non-binding’ opinions in an online discussion, I believe something else might be broken, and it’s not the up-down arrow system here. Chill out.

greatergood

Ha, No I don’t think so, there was quite clearly someone behind me when I looked all the way back, they looked a lot like you…..Caconym!
Although I can’t be sure because they kept changing their ip address! Lol

Sally Perry

@Caconym – You’ve been reading and contributing to discussions here for long enough to know that calling other readers ‘idiots’ is not welcome.

It might be acceptable language in other places online, but not here.

Caconym
It is broken because it it trivially simple make multiple votes. The problem is that, unlike other sites, such as the BBC, you allow unregistered users to vote up/down. You determine whether someone has already voted by IP address. This has two effects: 1. Only one person on a local network can vote as they all have the same IP address. 2. If you renew your connection… Read more »
Ian Young

As I am sure many of us know, there are lots of ways to change or hide your IP address but in truth, at least for most people, life really is too short.

There are other occasions when voting more than once is a rather more serious matter, but this is not the time or place to go into that.

Simon Perry

Like many things in life, it’s not perfect – very little is. That said, not perfect is a long way from broken.

After a long evaluation, we selected this commenting system as it’s well-designed and as robust a voting system as we’ve found to be available for WordPress.

greatergood

Well said Simon, it’s fine I have no issue with it even though the less honest among us are clearly using dirty tricks to sway the votes!
Caconym you are dishonest and that is by your own admission!

Caconym

If I was “dishonest” with my voting, do you *seriously* think I would have highlighted the problem here.

Idiot.

greatergood

You did indeed highlight it.
Also the fact that you are rude and abusive!
Now you are slightly miffed aren’t you?
Calm yourself, name calling won’t get you far in life, but then you know that don’t you?

Billy Builder

Onthewight provides a good local discussion forum for articles related to both the island and the wider world. Any voting system can be manipulated, with a modicum of effort so all are imperfect. However I am more than happy with Sally and Simon’s offering in this area and feel that the up/down arrows add value.

eastcowes

Possibly because it looks like you are saying it is called ‘West Cowes Town Council’ when the proper name is ‘Cowes Town Council’? It should be Newport Parish Council since they don’t have a mayor, but who cares…

Geoff Brodie
Just for information, Newport decided not to designate itself as a ‘town council’ when It was established in 2008 because we felt that would be failing to recognise that a large part of the parish is geographically either rural or Carisbrooke village. A significant part of my Newport East ward is farmland or rural. Consequently we have a Chair rather than a Mayor. Off topic I know,… Read more »
sjk1000

For clarity then, for my sake. East Cowes is a town, with its own town council, in its own right, distinct from Cowes town, with its own town council, and, despite the name East Cowes, it’s not in Cowes, and West Cowes isn’t actually a thing, because it’s Cowes?