At last week’s Ventnor Town Council (VTC) meeting serious concerns were raised by councillors about the lack of support from Isle of Wight council (IWC).
Whilst it was noted there was no mention of Ventnor in the Isle of Wight council’s recent Covid-19 Recovery Plan, a picture of years of neglect by the IWC emerged.
“Treated as the poor relation”
Cllr Brian Lucas said he believed, “the town was being treated as the poor relation by the local authority” and added that VTC will need to be increasingly proactive in working on the town’s regeneration.
Cockett: 4.5% of population should be matched with 4.5% funding
Cllr Stephen Cockett pointed out that as Ventnor had 4.5% of the Island’s population, “it should have at least that share of any regeneration and recovery funding”.
He hoped it would be possible to develop training courses for young people to help with trade-related qualifications and deliver an events programme.
Bartlett: “IWC is taking money out of “Ventnor on a huge scale”
It was the VTC clerk, David Bartlett, who spoke the most strongly about the lack of support from the IWC. He said the only hope of changing the trend of deprivation was for resources (money or people) to be committed to those areas that need it most.
He said the IWC is taking money out of “Ventnor on a huge scale”, adding,
“This trend is not going to change unless the IWC comes to terms with what regeneration means.”
He went on to say that Ventnor is the “forgotten place” when the share of resources are being discussed by IWC. He stressed,
“That’s got to change!”
Bartlett: Cllrs need to bring IWC’s political leadership to the table
Mr Bartlett said that unless the Isle of Wight Council starting working with the VTC, he didn’t see much hope of things changing.
He told councillors that they needed to bring the IWC’s political leadership to the table with them, where discussions can be made face to face.
Blackmore: “We’re banging our heads against a brick wall”
At the meeting VTC Mayor, Cllr Stewart Blackmore, asked,
“How do we make our two representatives at County Council level (Cllr Gary Peace and Cllr Graham Perks) listen to us, or even engage with us, to take things forward. One has been trying and the other just does nothing to engage with us at all.
“It doesn’t matter how well meaning we are, unless we have the support at County Council level, we’re banging our heads against a brick wall.”
Blackmore: “It really is very, very depressing”
Cllr Blackmore went on to say,
“I’ve had meetings, certainly David the clerk has, with the Leader and Deputy Leader where we were optimistic and thought we were getting places, and here we are two or three years on and where have we got?
“Look at the harbour – so called – and everything else that we thought we were reaching agreement on. We’ve reached agreement on nothing so far. It really is very, very depressing.”
He said they had tried the formal route of officer to officer, councillor to councillor, even leader to leader, none of which seem to have worked so far.
Bartlett: “Not expecting, or needing, major financial support”
The Clerk said that although the Town Council’s current regeneration programme was not expecting, or needing, major financial support from the IWC, “the town’s long standing and deeply embedded deprivation could only be effected within a collaborative partnership between the two councils”.
The clerk reminded others that they have ten major projects, with four of them stymied “because IWC either won’t respond to them, or won’t respond positively”.
Bartlett: “It’s not just wrong, it’s scandalous”
He said that all the VTC has asked for over the last two years is £10,000. Adding that when the IWC sold Market Street public toilets, and got £80,000 for them, they then wanted to charged VTC £6,500.
“It’s not just wrong, it’s scandalous.”
The Isle of Wight council’s Covid-19 Recovery Plan can be found in full on their Website.