As has been widely-discussed, Richard Priest is the only candidate running in Shanklin South against the current leader of the Isle of Wight council, Cllr David Pugh.
We met up with Richard at the Riverside Centre in Newport (which he runs) when the Fisheries minister, Richard Benyon MP, came to speak to Islanders. In the process, we ended up getting an exclusive interview, as Richard Priest hasn’t been interviewed by any other Island media.
Of interest to Shanklin and Island residents
We explore many areas of discussion that should be of interest both to the residents of Shanklin, and people across the Isle of Wight, as you can see from the bullet points lower down this article.
Why an Independent?
When asked why he was running as an Independent, he told OnTheWight that as a town councillor for 20 years, he’d never being part of a political party – the same with his running mate, Jon Gilbey.
Richard went on to say, “The Isle of Wight is too small to have Party politics get in the way of doing things. I just don’t the idea that things are voted through because it’s on block and the party says so. I think there should be debate. I think the community should be involved in that debate … and whatever the outcome, it’s more measured, it’s more democratic and people feel they’ve had a say.
“At the moment I think people are feeling really frustrated, that they express a view – and everyone goes against that view – and it’s ignored. I think the level of frustration is tangible.
“When we were out on the streets last weekend, canvassing, it was incredible the number of people just saying it was good to engage and express a view, and you guys will take those views forward, which we have done over 20 years in Shanklin.”
Questioned on manifestos he replied, “We looked around four years ago at other people’s manifestos – No one promised to shut any toilets in Shanklin; No one promised to shut the library in Shanklin; No one promised to shut the theatre in Shanklin; No one promised to charge business rates to voluntary groups. That should have been in people manifestos if that’s what they were planning to do – and what they delivered.
“I think the frustration we’ve got is people do things that they aren’t actually signed up to do – and that hasn’t been open and transparent. We’re saying we are about doing and we’re trying to be positive.”
Subjects covered in the interview
The interview (below) lasts for 30 minutes, so here’s a list of the points that are covered.
- The main gripes in Shanklin – Frustration of the number of shops shutting; car parking in the town; local schools; and cuts to public services – theatre, public toilets.
- The IW council’s change of policy to now charge community/voluntary organisations Business rates
- Intelligent approach to car parks that are current empty.
- How residents are double taxed for their services – at County council level and recently-increased Shanklin precept.
- Shanklin residents subsidising other parts of the Island, eg free parking in Godshill
- How would you make debate more open at IW council?
- When questioned on how he would represent the views of all people in Shanklin, not the few – he then detailed how he’s done this at many times of public concern – eg WOW fest, library closure, proposed closure of youth service.
- The Heights and Westridge both having money spent on them – but are only a few miles apart.
- Why did he run as an Independent?
- Would you accept a position on a newly-formed Cabinet at the IWC?
- Would you take on the leadership role?
- Have you been put up to give David Pugh an easy way to exit Island politics, so he can escape to the Mainland? (Originally left as an OnTheWight comment)
- How is he finding canvassing?
- What’s the reaction been from the public?
- School reorganisation and the failure of some schools on the Island.
- 2,500 pupils at Sandown bay – Making it first or second largest school in the UK – and how schools of that size isn’t the ‘Isle of Wight way’.
- What do the young people at the Shanklin Youth club think of the difficulties at Island schools?
- Which businesses should be encouraged on the Island in the future?
- Should the IW council just be a commissioning body, rather than provide?
- Getting the council to reinvest Island money in Island businesses, by directing the services the council purchases to local businesses.
Have a listen
We contacted David Pugh earlier today to offer to do an interview with him, but at the time of publishing we haven’t heard back from him.