By the time the issue of the Totland landslide was reached at last night’s mammoth Isle of Wight council Executive meeting (it was four and a half hours, three hours longer than they usually last), members appeared tired, frustrated and there was certainly a tension in the air.
At the June Executive meeting, members had voted to go ahead with a ‘mend and make do’ option, pending more detailed costs and subject to the results of the Winter Flood Report.
Cllr Jordan: “Sooner rather than later”
Presenting the agenda item, Executive member for public protection, Cllr Phil Jordan told members,
“Totland seawall is something this Executive has got to come to terms with, sooner rather than later.
“We shouldn’t allow much further coastal erosion. If we allow this, we will lose much of the benefits we’ve got from land and soil infill already there. That would be washed away from high tides and stormy weather over the winter.”
He went on to explain if the council did nothing about seawall damage caused by the landslip, it would have extensive cost implications in addressing policy for the Shoreline Management Plan agreed in 2010.
Maintaining entire coastal access
Cllr Jordan went on to say,
“We ought to support the Coastal Access initiative, which is not obligatory, but calls for an entire access path around the coast of England.”
As readers will be aware the Ramblers Association have made an application for the Isle of Wight to be included and are awaiting a definitive reply from the ministry.
Proposal to approve ‘make do and mend’
The member went on to suggest the ‘mend and make do’ option be approved and implemented as soon as practically possible.
The estimated costs presented were between £175,000-£200,000 – explained by Cllr Jordan as a fraction of the £2m estimated cost for full repair.
Dave Burbage (MD of the council) confirmed that ‘technically’, funds were available for the work within the capital contingency budget.
However, he added that if a decision was made at the meeting, it would be outside the context of other bids for funds (areas affected by flooding for example).
Opposition from other members
Several members of the Executive expressed their concern at the lack of precise costings for the work and the budget implications.
The leader was ‘minded to go’ with Cllr Jordan and to consider approving the spend in isolation, rather than delay it further to consider in a wider context of other funding bids.
Bill Murphy, head of planning, was unable to provide an assurance for Cllr Bacon that the £200,000 was the upper limit of expenditure. Mr Murphy also highlighted the online revenue maintenance cost of £10,000pa if work goes ahead.
Cllr Smart appeared to be the only member supporting Cllr Jordan’s urgency of getting this project moving forward straight away.
Decision delayed until 5th August
Eight members voted in favour of the Property Disposal and Capital Programme sub committee on 5th August considering the report to allocate funding for the ‘mend and make do’ option, and for the Executive to approve ongoing costs to the ongoing maintenance of the seawall.
Cllr Kendall voted against the proposal.
Residents will have to wait until 5th August to find out whether the Executive agree to fund the ‘mend and make do’ option they approved in June.
Report from experts
A report was published in January which set out the extent of the damage caused and provided some possible options.
Image: © Used with the kind permission of the Isle of Wight council