THERE was a time, not so long ago, when I found that I always seemed to be writing my column about an upcoming election of some sort or other, but this past 12 months has seen Covid-19, and everything that goes with it, as the only subject anyone ever discusses.

However, as we finally see some light at the end of the Covid tunnel, and a return to some sort of normality, what is it that is heading our way?.....the local Isle of Wight council elections.

Has it really been four years since the then leader of the Isle of Wight Council, Jonathan Bacon stood himself and the Island Independent Group down from running the council and pretty much handed the whole shooting match over to Dave Stewart and his fellow grey-suited Tories? Apparently so. How time flies when you’re not having fun.

Following his resignation, Mr Bacon disappeared from politics and I for one didn’t expect to see him back, but here we are four years on, and back he is, leading a new group by the name of Our Island Movement.

From the publicity photos I have seen, Jonathan Bacon has ditched the bright ties he always used to wear and shed his collar-length curly locks; although by the time we all emerge from this enforced winter hibernation in which hairdressers are closed, perhaps the locks will have regrown.

I have no idea why Jonathan has decided to give politics another go, but I presume it is due to both boredom and ego. I actually believe that the vast majority of people who enter local politics do so because they either need something to do or have a very highly inflated opinion of themselves as opposed to doing it because they, “want to help others and serve the community”, which is the old cliche that is usually rolled out.

So, for those who may have forgotten what exactly happened four years ago, let me remind you of the two main reasons why Jonathan resigned his leadership of the council in January 2017, using his own parting words:

1: Lack of central government funding

“The government has imposed austerity measures which have forced many local authorities, including the Isle of Wight Council, to impose severe cuts on services. Due to the nature of the Isle of Wight these cuts have had a more severe impact on the island than elsewhere, as a result of which the independent administration has continually requested the Conservative government to recognise that unique situation. They have continually failed to do so and it seems apparent the government has no wish or intent to help this Island.”

2: Lack of support from other councillors

“To my mind there is no longer in the chamber a sufficient number of members who are willing or able to address the real problems faced by the council and the Island and, accordingly, there are not sufficient members across the council who are supportive of me or my approach. Steve (Stubbings) and I have done our best to lead the council through the difficulties it faces, but, in the face of the unwillingness of government to lift a finger to help and the preference for too many elected members to act negatively rather than try and help, we are of the view that our positions as leader and deputy leader of the council are now untenable and, perhaps more pertinently, intolerable.”

So, has anything changed regarding funding? Despite all the promises and words of a so-called Island Deal, the Isle of Wight has received no extra money from central government whatsoever, and in fact the cuts have continued in the four years since Mr Bacon has been away.

Two weeks ago it was announced that the Isle of Wight Council is to be given £50,000 to ‘conduct a review’ to show whether or not the Isle of Wight is affected more than other areas, but even a schoolchild can see that this is nothing other than a fob-off — the government know full well from previous reviews that the Isle of Wight is worse off compared to other areas by around £6million a year — perhaps I should just write a letter telling them this and they can give me the £50,000. Mr Bacon is going to be very disappointed when he finds the pot at County Hall is still empty.

As for getting support from other councillors, this time around Mr Bacon has a solution. He is currently putting together his own crack squad of like-minded would-be councillors, stating that the Our Island Movement will break the mould of, “pale, male and stale” Isle of Wight councillors.

At the time of writing, he has announced five candidates (including himself) for the Our Island Movement, four of whom are, er, white, male and over 50. The mould hasn’t quite been broken just yet, but let’s see who else comes forward over the coming weeks — the excitement is almost too much to bear.