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 Peter Geach in East Cowes. Ed
I’ll kick off with a few thoughts on my prime issues.
Assisted Area Status
From this, Industry would be encouraged to come to the Island and maybe existing Industries expand.
The Monopolies Commission rules there isn’t a monopoly on cross-Solent travel! There is if you want to travel to Lymington or Portsmouth (WightLink) or Southampton (Red Funnel) for vehicular crossings.
Much the same for foot passengers, except Ryde offers a Hovercraft Service as well to Southsea; not the most convenient service if you need the train or bus service from the Hard.
In practical choice there is a monopoly; and this needs to be raised in the ‘House’ by a Private Members Bill or something to amend and bring common sense to the discussion on Monopoly rules for this situation.
The Island languishes at the bottom of the National League Tables. Because of its poor showing in Children’s Safeguarding, that Service was taken over by Hampshire Children’s Services.
Demonstratively the Island doesn’t have the people able to do the Education job; that should also logically be outsourced to Hampshire.
However some Official Inquiry should be set-up first to see if anything can be salvaged. I would hope a new MP would be instrumental in driving this through.
Pensioners’ Bus Pass
This is a lifeline for the elderly on modest pension. It allows them to see the doctor, go shopping, bringing their baskets back on the bus and generally doing there own thing and keeping active.
Without this ‘Pass’ for free travel, the Welfare service will become overloaded doing shopping and other chores.
It would seem sensible to limit travel within specific and adjacent counties; the Island and Hampshire. This would make it affordable to retain this essential service without subsidising holiday makers.
The BBC recently made an ingenious programme where they ran a competition for who could travel farthest on a bus pass; a total misrepresentation of the argument; Dom Littlewood should hang his head in shame!
The Island Technical College should be encouraged to run full time four-year apprenticeship courses; but with this twist; the trainee apprentice spends one day a week in Industry gaining ‘on the job’ training.
Firms would be encouraged to take on a student for the four-year term. In return the firm gets a reduction in, say, tax or business rate. During term time the ‘Apprentice’ is paid an allowance through the Technical College. If the Apprentice doesn’t show for his/her work placement, the allowance for that week is docked. Chances are a really keen person may be offered work during holiday time, build a good relationship with the firm and be offered a job at the end of training.
Not ideal, but the best that can be done. The big plus is that that person at the end of training has a skill, that can travel with him/her to find work on the mainland.
What of the Parliamentary Candidate?
The candidate needs to be from and of the ‘Wight’, have worked here for many years and brought his/her children up through the Island state education system. Knows at first hand the problems of getting his/her children into training or University from an Island base.
He/she needs to have experienced all the shortcomings and the good bits of Island Life, and have a clear vision of what is needed to get the Island back in work.
He/she clearly needs robust health so that when called for he/she can put ALL their energies in driving the necessary reforms through without constantly having to pace themselves and look over their shoulder at health issues.
He/she also needs clarity of thought and a sense of fair play; their actions driven by conscience rather than party mantra or by ambiguous rules that can be massaged for benefit in a given situation.