Letter: Riverside Centre: “Mr Pugh please leave well alone”

A former Trustee of the Riverside Centre shares his views on the Isle of Wight council’s recent involvement with the centre.

We always welcome a Letter to the Editor to share with our readers. This one from Ventnor resident and former county councillor, Harry Rees regarding the issues surrounding the Riverside Centre in Newport (it was addressed to the County Press editor, but copied to publish with On The Wight too). Ed

Having read the recent letters you published regarding the Riverside Centre and listening to the Isle of Wight Council Leader’s views on IW Radio I felt compelled to write, as a former Director and Trustee of the Riverside Centre, to register my concerns.

The centre has been in existence for almost 30 years and during that time it has developed into a multifunctional unit meeting the needs of some of the most vulnerable Isle of Wight residents, disabled and otherwise.

An integral part in the future health provision
The demand for such services continues to grow year on year. The Centre now forms an integral part in the future health provision for Islanders. Contracts are already operating with the Isle of Wight Hospital Trust.

Cllr Pugh states that the Council want to get back to basics – i.e. a centre for the disabled. He fails to comprehend how the demands and times have changed.

The Trustees have the responsibility of ensuring the Centre is financially viable.

Grants are diminishing
Over the years the General Manager and his staff have accessed thousands of pounds in grants – grants that are diminishing and as a consequence other avenues of finance have to be found. Such funding must, however, not impinge on the core activities of the centre.

Mr Pugh questioned the validity of the Newport Parish Council having its Office at the Centre – the Island’s MP also has his Office there. Both of which generate revenue for the Centre and are easily accessible for the public to visit. I have been advised that their presence at the Centre does not affect or detract from the services the centre provides.

Built with donations from the community
Whilst on the subject of finance one should also remember how the Centre came into being. Your paper [County Press] played a leading role in raising funds for the Centre to be built. From memory I believe some £250K was raised for Phase 1 & 2, £500K for Phase 3 and £100K+ for Phase 4.

The funding sources were wide and varied by example £100K from the IWRAF Association. I would ask the Leader and the Isle of Wight Council to think very carefully as for what their actions are causing. i.e.currently undermining the role of the Trustees, its Management Team and last but not least the providers and users of such services. Do not let them become political pawns.

Award-winning centre
In closing, and in defence of the Trustees, look at what has been achieved. The Centre has received numerous awards for the services they provide – Certificates proudly on display at the Centre.

They include European Social Firm of the Year (for employment of Disabled People), Queens Award for Voluntary Services. Countless Disability, Equality and Social Integration awards.

A General Manager who was awarded the OBE for his services to our community. Mr Pugh please leave well alone.

Image: qfamily under CC BY 2.0

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Sunday, 9th December, 2012 2:00pm


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Filed under: Island-wide, Letter to the Editor, Newport

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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. Well said Harry. I suspect that David Pugh will just go on in his own usual bumbling way though.
    How much more damage can he do before next May?

  2. mike starke

    9.Dec.2012 5:37pm

    Harry’s timely and thoughtful contribution to the debate on County Hall’s destructive meddling in the Riverside Centre’s affairs is to be welcomed by all (with the obvious exception of Messrs Pugh and Beynon, who seem hell bent on ignoring the facts and figures in order to try to get their way).

    And still the questions over their real motives remain unanswered. Their stubborn and arrogant silence can only be interpreted as an inability to confront the reality that is so painfully obvious to the rest of us; that they are wrong, wrong, wrong in their stance on this important issue.

  3. Tanja Rebel

    9.Dec.2012 6:44pm

    Mike Starke is absolutely right, one can wonder about the real motives behind the Council’s destructive behaviour towards the Riverside Centre. Luckily, many people in the know have spoken up and this last letter is yet another example of that.

    Councillor Pugh and Booking Clerk Beynon would be wise in listening to these views and take them into account – well before the coming elections. So many islanders are upset about this, do we really want it to become an election issue or will we be grown up enough to resolve this here and now?

    Please leave the Riverside Centre alone – it is doing very well as it is, thanks to people who – in contrast to the Council who seems to hold stone age segregationist views – know what it means to care and to share.

  4. Biker Bill

    9.Dec.2012 7:05pm

    As Harry Rees has mentioned the Riverside was built by raising over £850,000 from fundraising. So how exactly did it fall into Council ownership? & how much did they buy it for?

    • So there messers Pugh and Beynon,how much did the council pay for center,and when,if you can’t then leave well alone,remember the community paid for it. A better idea would be if both of you resigned and cleared off,well away from this island.

    • Victor Meldrew

      9.Dec.2012 9:51pm

      Biker Bill – The then trustees gifted the building to the council to avoid VAT on the understanding that the council would then transfer it back to Riverside. This is well documented and in the public domain. A correspondent in the CP a month or so ago reported.

  5. Robert Jones

    11.Dec.2012 10:43am

    At the very least, it’s time Messrs Pugh and Beynon shared their thinking with the rest of us; what, exactly, are they planning for the Riverside? This is not something they’re going to be able to resolve in the depths of the council’s “cabinet” – sooner or later they’re going to have to address this in full council, and face the public.

    If they are trying to sell the family silver, they need to bear in mind that the family extends somewhat beyond the interests of the ruling group on the Isle of Wight Council: nothing, apart from anything else, guarantees they’ll still be the ruling group after the next round of elections.

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