With the Isle of Wight council elections less than a year away, OnTheWight asked leaders of all the political groups within the council for their “view on how things have been since the last election and your hopes for the next 11 months”.
The fifth to respond to our invitation to take part in this series was UKIP group leader, Daryll Pitcher. Ed
The Isle of Wight elections of 2013 marked a breakthrough for UKIP. For the first time we had elected representation in the Council Chamber and could influence policy for the first time. 2013 also marked a breakthrough for UKIP nationwide and we were proud to be part of that.
These past three years on the council have been a real eye opener. Believe me when I say that as an outsider looking in you think you will be able to change easier than you actually can. It is a lot more difficult and a lot slower than simply clicking your fingers and changing the world overnight.
In the first full council meeting I said to the then Leader that UKIP would “Support where we can and oppose where we must”. I think this was fair reflection of what the island needed and I still stand by the statement. There are however two serious problems facing the council for the next year.
First there is the budget where the position is woeful, and secondly there is the fact that the council has no overall control. The Independent Group stated (and still state) that they are open, fair and willing to work cross party. They have had problems delivering on this pledge.
It is difficult to be ‘open and fair’ when things are against you and I understand this but I think more could and should have been done. Sadly I think it is now too late to rescue much from this council (politically) and we will have to wait until the next elections.
For next years elections I believe the party that offers the most positive message about the future of the island will do the best. We need a plan to solve the long term economic problems of the council. For me that revolves around business opportunities and job creation. Education and transport are key. We must listen to the people and deliver what they want. Without solid finances we cannot deliver anything.
We need to think big if we are to survive but we must also keep our unique status. I do not want us to become part of Hampshire and I am against the devolution deals currently on offer. I would prefer to stand alone and demand and Island Deal.
We need to ask for powers over transport, investment, housing, development, social services, care and health. We all have to stand proud as islanders, and for that to happen the next council needs to stand with us all.