Following news that Isle of Wight council have submitted a funding bid to the Government with a view to reopening Undercliff Drive to traffic, Niton and Whitwell Parish Councillor, Jon Boileau Goad, got in touch.
Loss of footfall and jobs
Cllr Boileau Goad explained that the landslip has resulted in the “loss of jobs and loss of footfall of visitors and locals to the businesses”, all of whom have had to make adjustments to survive.
“Chale is now without any form of shop, as is Whitwell, and the local population needs the Niton businesses to survive if they are to be able to maintain a reasonable standard of living.”
Two children knocked down
Explaining the difficulties with traffic being re-routed he said,
“The routing of cars, buses and trucks through the B roads of Whitwell and Niton has caused damage to the roads and pavements, and whilst no deaths have occurred, at least two children and one adult have been knocked down on roads which were never constructed to take the extra weight and numbers of vehicles.”
Pushing forward despite “aggressive remarks”
According to Cllr Boileau Goad the actions and remarks of some local representatives have been unpleasant and aggressive, he said,
“The Niton and Whitwell Parish Council has been the main driver in achieving this current state – despite the often thoroughly unpleasant and aggressive remarks and actions of some local representatives – and has kept pressure on the Isle of Wight Council, as well as raised the matter with the previous Prime Minister and relevant government departments.
“We became aware within weeks of the financial impact upon our businesses and agreed that our community could not survive if we lost these vital assets.”
Working to help support businesses
A number of initiatives have been spearheaded by the Parish Council in order to support the local businesses. The councillor went on to add,
“The Buddle Inn and The White Lion have had a very bad time, while the Garage has not replaced one of the mechanics who left to join the Forces.
“Working together we supported where we could and have tried to increase the visitor numbers to the area through a series of advertised activities – Saturday Markets, improved footpaths and enhanced Recreational areas in Niton and Castlehaven and most recently, the first attempt at a Soap Box derby for Children, to name but a few.”
Local activities to encourage visitors
In other initiatives the Parish Council are about to publish a Smugglers Trail for walkers and ramblers to follow that will not only teach local history, but also ensure visitors can find the shops and pubs in the village.
As well as an online version of the trail expected by the end of the summer, there are plans for a Trim Trail and enhanced Recreation Ground play equipment – all ideas aimed at attracting visitors to use the facilities and enjoy all that Niton and Whitwell has to offer.
Keeping up the pressure
Cllr Boileau Goad explained that since the landslip of 2014, the Parish Council has kept up pressure on anyone and everyone they felt could help get the road opened.
“At times it seemed that all would be lost and that so much of what was said to the Parish Council was in fact either misleading or worse, but recently things have seemed to turn a corner and this latest news is a potential life line for the community.”
Boileau Goad: “Crucial to our way of life”
Cllr Boileau Goad finished by saying,
“We now need to maintain the pressure and hold those that delay or dither to account.
“There’s been almost seven years in which to prepare a plan, but I wonder if the Isle of Wight Council have actually done anything in the way of costed options, or indeed, options!
“The reinstatement of the road is crucial to our way of life and it is not to used as a political point scoring exercise, but actioned in such a way as to safeguard and enhance all our lives, including the environment that we all treasure for now and the future.
“We have the opportunity and now we must use it well for the benefit of all.”