A Conservative election pledge to give more support to coastal towns and villages on the Isle of Wight is being made too late, according to opposition party leaders.

As reported by the Isle of Wight County Press last week, the Conservatives unveiled plans to work with local businesses 'to diversify and enhance the quality of visitor attractions and accommodation' and to improve both coastal defences and the look of resorts.

They also promised to 'consult on changes to planning policy,' which could make it easier for historic hotel buildings to be replaced, or converted into residential homes.

But the leaders of the opposition parties said the promises were things that could have been achieved over the Conservatives' years in charge of the Isle of Wight Council.

Reacting, Our Island's Jonathan Bacon said: "Our beaches and coastal areas are of fundamental importance to the Island.

"They support our tourist economy and also provide the basis for many of the small businesses that are so important to the Island's economy, from restaurants and bars to sport and leisure.

"As such, it is essential we maintain them and make sure that they can obtain the awards and recognition they deserve.

"The main thing is that this is something that is a priority at all times, not just when someone is looking for votes."

Pointing to Labour's community wealth building policy, Richard Quigley said plans to convert hotels into residences was unrealistic.

He said: "The Island has been sanctioned on planning for failing to meet its building targets and needs a cohesive plan for towns, villages and coastal areas."

Among the Conservative's pledges was a promise to 'work with town and parish councils' when it comes to beach cleaning and lifeguard provision (where needed), to win more Blue Flags and Seaside Awards.

In recent years, the cost of applying for a Blue Flag was considered too high.

The award covers a raft of requirements, including water quality, safety, and facilities.

In 2019, when councillors met to consider the importance of beach awards, the County Press asked if the Island would ever see a prestigious Blue Flag again.

At a meeting, an Isle of Wight alternative was considered, though some argued the investment would be repaid if tourists chose to visit a beach flying the flag.

In 2013, four Blue Flags were awarded to Isle of Wight beaches, as well as 13 Seaside Awards - collectively giving us the highest number of beach awards in the country.

In 2020, ten Isle of Wight beaches won Quality Awards, while the nearest Blue Flag beaches were on the Dorset, Hampshire and Sussex coasts.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Blue Flag beaches near the Isle of Wight

Commenting on the Conservatives' plans this week, ahead of tomorrow's local elections, leader of the former Island Independents Group, Debbie Andre, promised to work with the community to develop plans to benefit towns, villages and the Island.

Meanwhile, the Vectis Party's Daryl Pitcher said he was worried the Conservative's plan would lead to more second home owners and a decline in holiday accommodation, saying the pledges did not address the cost of ferry travel to the Isle of Wight.

Liberal Democrat Nick Stuart said the plan offered no detail on how it would be delivered and accused the party of previously failing to consult with organisations, including town and parish councils.