Plans are afoot by Director of Economy and Environment, Stuart Love, to disband the world-renowned Coastal Management Team at the Isle of Wight council.
A document, penned by Mr Love, has been leaked to OnTheWight which sets out the plans.
Hidden from public view
This is being done under Delegated Decision powers, but as it’s an internal Delegated Decision, neither the press or the public have even been made aware of it.
Only one person for whole coastline
The break up of the highly qualified and respected team is just one part of a wider restructuring of the Economy and Environment Directorate by Mr Love – who is heavily tipped to be given the top job at the council after Steve Beynon leaves – and would see the post of Principal Coastal Engineer ‘deleted’ under the restructure.
If completed, it would leave just one person responsible for the whole of the Island’s coastline – which also happens to be the longest of any public authority in England.
OnTheWight has spoken to people who have expertise in this area and they question the wisdom of this at a time when changes in the weather, such as this being the wettest year on record in England, bringing cliff falls like has been seen at Totland.
With the ‘deletion’ of the role of the team’s head, there will be a loss of years worth of knowledge about the Isle of Wight coastline.
Cllr Welsford: “This is madness”
Cllr Chris Welsford, who represents the IW council at SCOPAC (Standing Conference on Problems Associated with the Coastline), told OnTheWight, “If this is true, if we are abandon our coastal protection team, then this is madness”, he added, “This decision shouldn’t be made by council Officers, it should come before Full Council.”
Test from the Delegated Decision Report
The Coastal Management Team currently reports directly to the Strategic Manager – Highways and Transport.
The following changes are proposed:
The Geotechnical Engineer post is transferred to the PFI service provider as the role is largely related to monitoring ground movement and water levels which will be the responsibility of the PFI provider in relation to the public highway.
The Coastal Engineering Technician post is transferred to the Recreation, Leisure and Public spaces Team reporting to the Commercial Services Manager. There are synergies in the role undertaken by the Coastal Engineering Technician and the responsibilities of this team.
The post of Senior Geomorphologist is transferred to the Planning Policy Team, reporting to the Deputy Head of Service Planning (Policy). The role of Senior Geomorphologist is substantially policy based and already has close links with functions undertaken by the Planning Policy team.
The responsibility for managing harbours to be transferred to the Reactions, Leisure and Public Spaces Team which already manages Ryde Harbour. This will mean this this Team will also be responsible for Newport Harbour and Ventnor Haven. The Newport Harbour Master will report to the Leisure Facilities Manager.
Image: © Used with permission of Jason Swain