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This letter from Isle of Wight councillor for Ryde East,Cllr Michael Lilley. Ed
At the Isle of Wight Council’s Policy and Committee for Adult Social Care and Public Health, there was an important revelation on Monday, 25th March 2019. As a Committee member I asked the representative of the Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group the following question:
“In light that we know from a study by Portsmouth University that Isle of Wight Council annually starts each financial year with a £6.5 deficit compared with mainland local authorities due to being an Island; what is the figure in regard the NHS?”
The answer was £10-15 million, which if you add to the IW Council figure equates to the Isle of Wight Public Services being at a disadvantage of £16.5-21.5m a year. This is without the possible deficit built into the Police.
Possible £20+m disadvantage
This is clear evidence that the Solent is not only the most expensive piece of water to cross in the UK and some say the World, but it costs Islanders a possible £20m plus disadvantage to our needed public services annually compared to the mainland.
The Isle of Wight Conservative Administration and Isle of Wight Conservative MP, Robert Seely, have reported that the Conservative National Government has started to recognise that Isle of Wight is an Island.
Not a level playing field
IW Council is lobbying for this Island’s recognition and the extra money that is required to be on a level playing field with mainland local authorities.
However, we now know that the figure is far beyond £6.5M as the Portsmouth University states, we need to face up to the £20M plus figure.
Call for new Isle of Wight Act of Parliament
I believe that the Isle of Wight needs a new Isle of Wight Act of Parliament that accepts that as an Island we need legislation to distinguish Island needs, powers and governance.
We cannot go cap in hand each year with a begging bowl or continually expect local Public Servants to manage services that have a built-in annual Island deficit. This is abject cruelty.
Legislation designed for mainland circumstances
In addition to this financial impossibility, we expect Public Servants to deliver legislation that is designed for English mainland circumstances.
For example, the issue of the Island having to deliver to South-East England housing quotas which are fixed to need of South East England not the Island’s needs.
Scotland, Wales, and Northern Island through devolution have their own legislative making assemblies to customise legislation and financial settlements to their needs. In Scotland, Scottish Islands are recognised and they are able to fit powers and finance to their needs.
Jersey and the Isle of Man have their own legislative powers as autonomous Islands. French Islands are accepted within the European Union and by the French Government as Islands that need different legislation and financial settlement designed to their needs.
Legislative gun to our head
The Isle of Wight will continue to have a financial and legislative gun to its head continually through the annals of time until we are recognised by Parliament and the UK Government as an Island. We need to enshrine our needs in legislation and a financial settlement.
We need to throw away the begging bowl for once and for all. We need to start an Island Act campaign now!
Image: © With kind permission of Allan Marsh