Good news, you might think, for those concerned about the long-running and well-reported failures of the floating bridge.
Except the SLEP has failed to inform local councillors, stakeholders, businesses, residents or the media about the consultation which launched three weeks ago, on 5th October 2018.
26 Oct 2018: The SLEP’s PR agency has been in touch claiming that representatives of Cowes and East Cowes Town Councils were advised of the launch of the business case consultation. They tell OnTheWight that they’re seeking clarification and will let us know on Monday. The SLEP also repeat that the information was displayed on their Website (which OnTheWight reported below) and their October Newsletter and Social media. We’re working on a further piece to detail this.
Jones-Evans: “Would have expected a more public announcement”
News of consultation was discovered by chance, when it appeared in a newsletter from the Federation of Small Businesses.
On hearing this, OnTheWight contacted the lead member of the Federation of Small Businesses for the Isle of Wight, Julie Jones-Evans, who said,
“This is a really important issue for the whole of the Isle of Wight, including the impact on small businesses. I’m thankful to the FSB for spotting this and putting it in their newsletter.
“I would have expected a more public announcement of such a critical issue for the Isle of Wight when this was released three weeks ago.
“We clearly need as much time as possible to review the 107 page submission, to scrutinise it and respond.”
“Inaccuracies and incomplete data” claim stakeholders
A spokesperson for the Floating Bridge Stakeholder group told OnTheWight,
“We can see that there appear to be inaccuracies and incomplete data in this revised business case. In the end, a new floating bridge needs to be at least as good as floating bridge 5; anything less will cause economic damage, and this one is hurting the economy badly, especially local businesses, as can be seen clearly using available data.
“The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership – the floating bridge’s funder – has said that a new floating bridge must help local businesses and the economy.”
Detailed response from stakeholders
The original authors of the paper are Wendy Perera, (assistant CEO of Isle of Wight Council) and David Carter, SYSTRA (a transport planning consultancy).
The Floating Bridge Stakeholders group say they’ll be publicly distributing a detailed response to the consultation, including “data which demonstrates that this floating bridge has been hurting the local economy”.
Telling the world?
Posting an announcement on the Web might be considered by some to be enough to tell the world about what you want to say, but the key is directing interested parties to that announcement.
As far as OnTheWight could determine, the news had not been sent to the press or included in the SLEP newsletters for September or October.
However, on 8th October, the SLEP posted on their Website:
“Floating Bridge – consultation open until 28th December 2018
The Solent LEP is consulting on the Floating Bridge business case for a period of twelve weeks. The consultation commenced on Friday 5th October 2018 and closes on Friday 28th December 2018.
Further details on the Solent LEP consultations, including the business cases for both of the above live consultations (and all previous Solent LEP consultations), and a template for the use of any organisation or individual that wishes to respond can be found here.
A summary of consultation responses for each consultation will be published on this website within 12 weeks of the relevant closing date.”
OnTheWight has asked the Solent LEP why Islanders were not informed about the consultation and will update when we hear back from them.
How to take part
If you would like to respond to the Business Case consultation you will need to complete this form and email firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday 28th December 2018.
Should you have any questions regarding the open consultation, please contact the LEP on email@example.com or 02392 688924.
IWC “refuse to engage” with stakeholder engineers
The spokesperson for the Floating Bridge Stakeholder group finished by saying,
“The Council still appears to ignore and refuse to engage with stakeholder engineers who have been trying to tell the Council that there are many ‘unfixable’ (i.e. too expensive to resolve) problems with this floating bridge, including latent defects that will become big, on-going issues.
“This floating bridge needs to last near 30 years. These are not ‘teething issues’ or ‘snagging problems’ but are the result of an inappropriately designed floating bridge that is not created for the space and conditions it needs to operate in. We need a new floating bridge, and to not waste any more of our taxes on this money pit. Make the floating bridge profitable again!”
The revised business case
For those who wish to read the revised business case, we have embedded it below for your convenience (click on full screen icon for larger version).
Beneath it what the IWC refer to as “The original business case for the Solent Gateway Project, which included the replacement floating bridge”.
Image: © Martin Linnenbruger