A NEW report on the Cowes Floating Bridge was accused of 'leaving East Cowes in the dark' and failing to bring clarity to the unreliable service — a problem that would be an ongoing issue throughout the year.

Isle of Wight Council leader, Cllr Dave Stewart, denied the project was a disaster and said the service would be running properly within months.

In an exclusive front page scoop, the County Press revealed the historic Norris Castle (pictured) could become a luxury hotel with 50 new homes in its grounds.

Developers, Uavend, planned to restore the crumbling East Cowes site and develop a 17-suite hotel with a high-quality restaurant, woodland lodges, a spa and an outdoor events venue.

The Isle of Wight's favourite aviator, Mary Ellis, was awarded the Freedom of the Isle of Wight.

Equipped with only a map, compass and stopwatch, wartime pilot Mary Ellis delivered around 1,000 aircraft to the RAF during the Second World War.

Her dangerous work was vital to the war effort and she and her female colleagues were trailblazers for today’s generation of women pilots.

Patients and family visitors were furious when a new parking system at St Mary's Hospital, Newport, led to long queues at payment machines.

The new machines were unable to connect to the new number plate readers and left huge queues as visitors had to input their own arrival time.

In an announcement that foreshadowed a year of ferry fiascos and cross-Solent chaos, Isle of Wight MP, Bob Seely, urged the government to grant the Isle of Wight Council powers which would force ferry companies to provide a ‘public service’.

During a parliamentary debate, he told MPs some £100 million a year was spent by Islanders on some of the most expensive ferry routes in the world.

An investigation saw more than £2 million of drugs seized on the Island.

A dealer, Robert Hughes, said to have been the linchpin in the supply of heroin, cocaine and cannabis between Birmingham and the Island, began a jail term of nearly ten years.

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TRIBUTES poured in after Richard Bunday, described as a kind, thoughtful and determined young man, died of cancer.

Mr Bunday (pictured below), who died aged 28 at Mountbatten, had completed Walk the Wight and the Great South Run during his illness.

He also left a legacy in the form of Say No to Cancer, a charity managed by the Vectis Tavern where he used to work, to support young adults with cancer.

Wightlink's £30 million car ferry, Victoria of Wight, was launched in Turkey.

She launched at the Cemre shipyard, near Istanbul, and was due to arrive at the Isle of Wight five months later.

The CP's chief reporter, Emily Pearce, reported from the scene.

Billionaire Richard Branson urged for a Ryde man to be honoured for his engineering work.

John Ackroyd, one of the Island's 'Hidden Heroes', built the first electric city car in the 1970s and designed the record breaking Thrust 2.

He was also part of the team which worked on Branson's Virgin Atlantic flyer — the first hot-air balloon to cross the Atlantic.

A memorial made from 201 stones — each one representing a sailor who died when the HMY Iolaire sank off the Isle of Lewis on New Year’s Day 1919 — included two stones from the Isle of Wight.

Cowes Primary and St Helens Primary School students chose the stones to represent where the two Isle of Wight men were from.

An interim board was poised to seize control of Christ the King College in the wake of the multi-million pound financial crisis that rocked the Island's previously top secondary school.

Former principal, Pat Goodhead, announced she would retire at the end of the term.

A Spice Girls superfan was on a mission to refurbish the Spice Bus and return it to the streets of the Capital.

One of the Island's quirkier tourist attractions, the Union Jack emblazoned double decker was parked at Island Harbour Marina.

Superfan Alan Smith-Allison aimed to restore it to its former glory.

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A SANDOWN town councillor was accused of behaving like a 'raging animal' at a town meeting, leading to calls for his resignation.

A young volunteer was left in tears after being berated by Cllr Chris Dupre.

Cllr Dupre branded it 'fake news' and her reaction as 'staged'.

He admitted he raised his voice but, because the meeting had ended, he believed he was not working as a councillor.

A homeless war veteran, who was walking the coast of Britain for charity, was asked to move on by monks.

Shamus Westwood had camped in the forest near Quarr Abbey during his tour of the Island, and was awoken by a monk from the abbey telling him he was not allowed to camp there.

The Isle of Wight received a large spring snow fall which shut schools and closed roads. 4x4 drivers, Island Roads and caring neighbours were praised for their work to help those in need.

A paperboy for the CP was thanked by editor and publisher, Alan Marriott, for going the extra mile to get Islanders their news, while other youngsters enjoyed sledging and snowball fights.

Business owners spoke of their outrage and disappointment after parking charges were hiked once again.

The cost of parking in council short-stay car parks for two to three hours increased by a whopping £1.10 — a rise of 32 per cent.

Newport Business Association chair, John McLaughlin, said: "We pay our rates, how much more until we can’t carry on?"

An East Cowes shop owner claimed she was forced to close her business because of problems with the Cowes Floating Bridge.

Angie Booth, 58, who ran the Value4U store in Castle Street for 22 years, said she and husband Roger, 63, had not 'taken a penny’ for themselves from the business for more than a year because of the lack of passing trade in the town.

Police investigated after a white feather — traditionally the symbol of cowardice — was posted to a former Bembridge councillor.

The feather was anonymously posted to Alexander Hopkinson-Woolley when he stepped down amid the acrimonious row over what should be done about council offices in the village High Street — an issue that troubles Bembridge nine months on.

A mum of six released harrowing photographs of her teenage son 'at death's door' to show the true effects of meningitis.

Ben Taylor, 18, was fighting for his life just days after he complained of a sore throat— but he had actually contracted bacterial meningitis.

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MAJOR IW employer, GKN, was bought out by corporate turnaround specialist Melrose, raising fears of job losses on the Isle of Wight.

Shareholders voted to accept the £8.1 billion hostile takeover bid when they were approached directly by Melrose when its offer was rejected by GKN's board.

A cafe hit out at the ‘cretin’ who stole its hospice collection box.

A message from the owner of God’s Providence House, Robin Crawley, was written on a chalk board outside the cafe in St Thomas’s Square, Newport, that read: “To the cretin that stole our hospice charity box, I hope karma comes round and bites you in the ass.”

A former Carisbrooke High School student achieved global success as a make-up artist — winning a Bafta and an Oscar for her work on the acclaimed Second World War film, Darkest Hour.

Lucy Sibbick, 35, (pictured below) was one of the artists who transformed Gary Oldman into Winston Churchill. Lucy said it felt like winning the lottery.

Sir David Attenborough received a glass stag beetle made on the IW. The beetle, on a conversation award, was made by Paul Critchley at Sculptglass, Arreton Barns. Mr Critchley and Trudy Henderson, who co-runs Sculptglass, presented Sir Attenborough with the award.

Island residents slammed shorter summer opening hours at Lynnbottom Tip.

To save money, the IW Council slashed opening times by 35 hours a week but this led to long queues, traffic chaos and the need for traffic wardens in the area.

Eight security cameras were installed in the Lord Louis Library, Newport, after a couple were caught having sex among the stacks.

Security at the library was increased due to ‘occasional instances of inappropriate behaviour’, the Isle of Wight Council confirmed in a statement.

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It was reported more than 350 Island women may have been affected by the national breast cancer screening scandal.

The interim medical director at the time, Steve Parker, said: "Here on the Island, like elsewhere in England, we rely on the national system to issue the invitations for screening."

He estimated 352 Isle of Wight women were affected.

Another Islander made a splash in the global film and TV industry when East Cowes screenwriter, Vikki Lutas, won an Emmy for her Netflix children's tv show, Free Rein.

The former Cowes High student based the south coast island where the story is set on the Isle of Wight.

She said winning the Emmy felt very surreal.

Isle of Wight Pride organisers issued a heartfelt plea to Tesco customers who branded the event 'immoral'.

Tesco was supporting the charity through its Bags of Help community grant scheme, but not all customers were happy about it and several complained, with some even saying they would no longer shop there.

TV and film star, Damian Lewis, was spotted taking a dip with friends at Freshwater Bay, and the photographs, taken by County Press reader Debi Heather, proved among the most popular on the CP website that month.

The headteacher of the threatened Isle of Wight Studio School joined the fight for its future. Richard Price said the school was viable and more students than ever before had signed up to start in September.

But the Inspire Academy Trust, which runs the East Cowes school, said a lack of demand meant it was not financially viable in the long-term.

Isle of Wight County Press:


Wightlink's new flagship, Victoria of Wight, impressed senior managers, captains and engineers during her first sea trials in the Sea of Marmara.

The ship completed three days sailing with staff from the Cemre shipyard in Yalova, Turkey, a Lloyds Register surveyor, numerous specialist engineers and Wightlink representatives on board.

They tested all essential systems, including the hybrid power drive, and completed full speed trials, manoeuvring and turns.

Island MP Bob Seely tweeted out against the President of the US Donald Trump, saying: "Sorry, but Trump is an utter moron. I know we shouldn’t say that, and we should all be nice to him, etc., etc., but for heaven’s sake, there are limits. Not a fan of narcissists."

Mr Seely’s reaction came after President Trump fired off a string of angry tweets criticising his closest allies, hours after leaving a divisive G7 summit early.

Mr Seely said: “It was a jokey tweet. I do think he is a bad role model but I find it hard to hold my tongue when he is being moronic."

The Isle of Wight Festival was one of the busiest ever, when crowds flocked to see headline performances from Kasabian, Liam Gallagher, Depeche Mode and The Killers.

The aftermath included a lack of fuel at Island petrol stations, when customers reported limited or no unleaded petrol at Morrisons in Lake and Newport and Tesco in Ryde.

David Grannum, general manager at Isle of Wight Fuels, said it was due to loading problems and getting stock over from the mainland during the busy festival period.

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THERE were multiple sightings of dolphins off the Isle of Wight during the summer heatwave.

County Press photographer Paul Blackley was among those lucky enough to paddle with a dolphin off Freshwater Bay, and several members of the public sent in their photos and videos.

The Isle of Wight was also named fourth in Britain’s top ten shark-spotting locations following scientific research carried out by the National Geographic.

A large fire spread across the cliffs in St Lawrence for several hours.

Six engines from the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service fought the blaze between Old Park Road and Undercliff Drive as it spread uphill at a rapid rate. No homes were evacuated.

Mary Ellis, one of the last living female pilots from the Second World War, died at the age of 101.

Tributes to Mrs Ellis, of Sandown, flooded in from across the country and Island MP Bob Seely called her the Island’s ‘greatest citizen’.

Mrs Ellis was a member of the Air Transport Auxiliary  and delivered Spitfires and bombers to the front line during the conflict, armed with only a map, a compass and a stopwatch.

Her work was vital to more than just the war effort, as she and her colleagues blazed the trail for today’s generation of women RAF pilots.

The Duchess of Cornwall met Dame Judi Dench for an ice cream on Queen Victoria’s private beach at Osborne House.

The actress, who is a patron of Friends of Osborne House, showed Camilla around the estate as part of the royal visit.

Later at Trinity Landing, Cowes, the duchess officially named Red Funnel’s new Red Jet 7.

Isle of Wight County Press:


A £75 MILLION superyacht paid a visit to East Cowes when the billionaire owner decided he wanted to drop in on a crew member’s home town.

Callum Casson, who was from Cowes, was working on board Archimedes, owned by American billionaire hedge fund manager, Jim Simons.

The yacht pulled up at Trinity Wharf to the delight of locals, and Callum invited his dad on board for a tour.

TV stars were spotted in Cowes during a sunny Lendy Cowes Week.

Good Morning Britain presenters, Charlotte Hawkins and Laura Tobin, were on board racing yacht Emily of Cowes and reported live from Cowes on Ladies Day.

The blighted Cowes Floating Bridge failed to work properly on the busiest week of the year.

It suffered a mechanical fault and was halted for hours after it ran aground, stranding motorists and foot passengers on both sides of the River Medina.

Isle of Wight Council bosses called an emergency meeting following months of breakdowns and groundings.

Ventnor ice cream parlour, Crave, had to change its opening hours following the ‘absolutely phenomenal’ response to the news it sells the top-rated ice cream in the country, according to TripAdvisor.

The team said the publicity had left them struggling to make enough ice cream for all their customers.

A future double act was created at Jay Miller’s Circus when two babies were born to the circus stars during their summer residency at Whippingham.

Miss Zsofia and her husband, Clown Peppi, welcomed Hanna Izabella, and circus performer Charlotte Miller and Florian, Lord of the Lasers, welcomed Oscar.

Jon Miller, who runs the circus, said: “In all the years we have been coming to the Island, having a baby here is a first for the circus, and now we have two little caulkheads.”

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Pro-Link, the group behind the proposed Solent Freedom Tunnel fixed link, unveiled a new tunnel scheme leading from Whippingham to a mainland entrance near the M27, east of Whitley, via Lee-on-the-Solent.

The scheme would incorporate approximately 2kms of exposed surface road, and all other construction would be subterranean.

To fund a viability study into the scheme, the group opened a crowdfunding page and called on supporters to pitch in, after failing to secure any funding from local or national bodies.

Two adjacent hotels caught fire on Sandown seafront. 

Tarvic2 and St Moritz were ablaze for several hours, with flames coming up through the roof, that could be seen across the town.

It was a large scale incident for the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service, which had around 50 firefighters on the scene at one point.

Everyone who had been inside the hotel was accounted for and no injuries were reported.

Prime Minister Theresa May gatecrashed an Island wedding and had her photograph taken with the bride and groom.

Glass House Productions were shooting a video of happy couple Michelle and Jason Dight on Cowes seafront when Mrs May joined in.

Plans for an exciting and imaginative multi-million pound indoor waterpark was unveiled by Robin Hill Country Park.

Vectis Ventures Holdings Limited announced plans for The Springs, which will be submitted formally to the Isle of Wight Council as a planning application supported by an environmental statement.

Work is due to start within two years, depending on the planning process, and will take 18 months to construct.

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An investigation was launched after a Red Funnel car ferry ran aground, hit moored yachts and prompted a search and rescue mission in The Solent.

Cowes RNLI, Calshot RNLI and the Coastguard rescue teams from Bembridge and Ventnor underwent a search for people in the water after shouts for help were reported, but nothing was found.

After several pub closures on the Island, campaigners called for a fairer deal.

CAMRA said only a ‘suicidal billionaire’ would take on the lease at an Enterprise Inns establishment, but Ei defended its business practices.

MP Bob Seely met treasury secretary, Liz Truss, and pledged to raise the issue during a budget debate in the Commons.

A Shanklin hotel caused shockwaves along the clifftop and beyond when the owners painted the frontage in homage to its alternative Gothic theme.

The Nightingale Hotel was adorned with large-scale artwork, created by Tony Trowbridge, to make a statement about its niche market.

Cllr Chris Quirk, Isle of Wight Council ward member for Shanklin South, said he had never had so many complaints on a single issue since becoming a councillor.

The Bradley family, from Ryde, triumphed in Farmer Jack’s annual heaviest pumpkin competition with a record-breaking squash weighing 320kg.

The monster pumpkin was so enormous it almost didn’t make it to the weigh-in, due to transporting the beast.

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Brolly the umbrella cockatoo was among the animals that died in a fire at the Isle of Wight Pet Centre.

Five fire engines attended the scene in Watergate Road, Newport, on November 5 and an investigation into the cause was launched.

The Isle of Wight Council announced plans to save £5.5 million in 2019/20, but it was a bitter pill for Islanders to swallow.

A three per cent council tax rise, paying for parking in key locations, such as Nodehill in Newport and Union Street in Ryde, and even shorter tip opening hours were suggested.

Parking charges across the Island were also set to rise, as were Wightcare social care charges, home-to-school transport costs and crematorium and cemetery charges.

The company behind Island Con went bust, meaning the event would not return in 2019.

The company said it had incurred a large financial loss and had suffered from a campaign of negativity and slander on social media.

The news came just weeks after it was revealed the Fairweather Festival would also not be staged in 2019. 

A new festival was announced, with TV legends Dick and Dom launching a new family summer festival here.

It was announced The Great Wonderfest would take place from August 1 to 4, 2019, promising to bring the television duo’s unique brand of family entertainment, along with music, magic, fun, big name pop acts, bands and DJs, comedy and vaudeville.

Farmers on the IW raised concerns about the proposed introduction of white-tailed sea eagles to the Isle of Wight, which they said could attack livestock.

A meeting, hosted by the NFU in conjunction with the eagles project team, saw attendees vote unanimously against the idea of introducing the apex predators to the Island.

However, the project team at the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation and Forestry Commission said there would be many benefits in re-introducing the bird.

Isle of Wight County Press:


A NEW retail and leisure park was unveiled for Newport, at St George’s Way.

It could create 200 jobs if plans are approved, and would be made up of five units, to include a discount food retailer, a 24-hour gym, a DIY/garden centre outlet, drive-through restaurant and two other retail units as well as parking for nearly 300 cars.

Biscuit-gate hit Bembridge when a Christmas gift ended up furthering a row at the parish council.

Former Bembridge parish councillor, Alexander Hopkinson-Woolley, gave the box of chocolate biscuits to the parish council, but had them returned and his ban from the parish council building was prolonged.

He had previously been banned from e-mailing, calling and visiting the Parish Office due to ‘vexatious’ behaviour, which the parish council said included offensive comments and consistently disruptive behaviour.

Police were then called to a biscuit protest when demonstrators turned up at the parish office carrying a giant inflatable digestive in protest at the treatment of Mr Hopkinson-Woolley.

A rural home in Porchfield was destroyed by fire — claiming the life of a person inside.

A body was found in the remains following the blaze and the building was quickly destroyed by the flames.

Hundreds of Isle of Wight children were homeless this Christmas, new figures revealed. 

There were 265 homeless children according to charity Shelter, with the majority living in temporary accommodation such as hotels and B&Bs.

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