ISLE of Wight Liberal Democrats has announced the first wave of approved candidates standing for the party for election to the council.

Among those to stand are Andrew Garratt, Bob Packham, Tracy Mikich, Malcolm Ross, Mark Voller, John Graney, Bob Blezzard and Nick Stuart.

Further tranches of candidates are expected to be announced in due course.

Local party chair, Nick Stuart said: “The Isle of Wight Council has been run by the Conservatives for the last four years.

"We’ve seen countless cuts in local services, including those for vulnerable people.

“The continuing ­— and very expensive ­— floating bridge saga has become shorthand for Conservative incompetence in tackling difficult issues.

“The controversial decision to see the fire service combined with Hampshire worries residents that our unique Island identity is being eroded.

“They’ve failed to deliver on the much promised Island Deal, meaning we suffer even more from the Conservative government’s underfunding of local councils along with a soaring council tax.

“Not only will our candidates be challenging the Conservatives on their poor record­ — we will be putting forward positive plans for the Island with priorities focused on jobs, the environment and community.

"These are the themes that our existing councillors have put forward as budget amendments every year.”

Andre Garratt.

Andrew Garratt - Parkhurst and Hunnyhill.

Andrew Garratt is a maths and science tutor, with a previous career in public relations.

He is the sitting councillor for Parkhurst, and has consistently lobbied the Ministry of Justice for improvements on the unadopted prison estate roads.

He also carried out extensive residents’ consultation on the council’s £6 million St Mary’s junction scheme.

He believes the council should radically change how it engages with the public, so that residents get a real influence on decision making.

Bob Packham.

Bob Packham - East Cowes.

Bob Packham is a former engineer and long term resident of East Cowes who serves on the East Cowes Town Council.

He has championed road safety from potholes to the pedestrian crossing at Osborne House.

He believes key issues include the regeneration of rotting buildings seen in East Cowes and around the Island, and says the floating bridge "farce" is a continuing stain on Isle of Wight Council's competence and reputation.

Tracy Mikich.

Tracy Mikich - Ryde South East.

Tracy Mikich has worked in publishing, charity PR, animal welfare including Battersea Dogs Home, and for the last 15 years in award winning tourism and hospitality.

She has a keen interest in children with special education needs and raising the aspirations of young islanders.

Malcolm Ross.

Malcolm Ross - Haylands and Swanmore.

Former mayor Malcolm Ross ­— a Haylands resident for almost 30 years ­— has served previously as an IW councillor and is currently on Ryde Town Council.

As a long-standing supporter of Ryde Carnival and the Ryde Arts Festival, and a founder member of CycleWight, he has a keen interest in community culture.

For the Island, he believes sustainable transport and green tourism are major issues.

Mark Voller.

Mark Voller - Sandown South.

During a 30-year police career, Mark Voller was recently involved in the planning and regulation of key local events including music festivals.

He has served the community as a magistrate and wants landscapes protected, town centres safer and people centred.

John Graney.

John Graney - Brading and St Helens.

John Graney is a retired legal adviser and previously an officer in the Royal Navy.

He believes the Isle of Wight is a great place to live but could be better, and what we have also needs to be protected.

He says central government must be made to understand that we actually live on an island.

He believes issues of employment, transport, the environment, funding council services and housing ­— including the way second homes distort the market ­— need to be seen in light of this circumstance.

Bob Blezzard.

Bob Blezzard - Newport West.

Bob Blezzard worked in local government throughout his career, before taking early retirement to become a full-time carer for his elderly and disabled father.

He subsequently worked as clerk to a number of local councils, including being acting clerk to Newport and Carisbrooke Community Council in 2019.

He says he is passionate about the need to provide youth services for our young people now the IW Council no longer makes any meaningful provision.

Nick Stuart.

Nick Stuart - Brighstone, Calbourne and Shalfleet.

Nick Stuart is a sports coach, former teacher and previously a civil service science and innovation specialist with experience in forensic accounting.

His main concerns are the environment, from planning to climate change, supporting jobs for Islanders, and real engagement by the council with the public, with parish, community and town councils, and with voluntary bodies.