Housing, the floating bridge and accountability...those are three of the points that Conservatives are taking the ruling Alliance group on the Isle of Wight Council over.

In a detailed response to Alliance leader Cllr Lora Peacey-Wilcox's state of the nation statement last week, Tory leader on the council, Cllr Joe Robertson, has targetted those three issues.

He claims many of the achievements trumpeted by Cllr Peacey-Wilcox were begun under the Tory administration.

Although noting that the leader had acknowledged this, Cllr Robertson said it was worth noting that Howard House homeless hub and the Branstone Farm development were two Tory successes. 

He said: "I acknowledge the support and implementation of Conservative policies and projects by the Alliance."


Cllr Robertson said:  "There is little mention of the Alliance Council’s planning policy including for affordable housing.

"The new chair of planning committee nominated and voted through by the Alliance, Labour and the Liberal Democrats is an outspoken critic of the Alliance’s own draft Island Planning Strategy.

"The strategy has been put on hold and the Cabinet meeting due to discuss it was cancelled.

"In February, the council allocated a £40 million borrowing facility for building affordable housing including rental accommodation – a budget amendment the Alliance opposed. "The leader has given no detail regarding, (1) whether any of this money has been borrowed, allocated or spent, (2) whether the council’s own housing company has been resourced to start delivering these homes as promised, or (3) whether the report into better use of brownfield land has been commissioned.

He said: "Islanders need clarity on where the Alliance-led council stands, particularly those in serious need of appropriate housing."

Isle of Wight County Press: The floating bridge out of action.The floating bridge out of action.

Floating Bridge

Cllr Robertson said: "The leader’s report says nothing about resolving the problems of the Floating Bridge which has suffered its worst year to date under the Alliance led-Council.

"We were previously told a mediation meeting between the Council and those responsible for designing and/or building the bridge took place in early March but there is apparently still no resolution and no further mediation dates have been disclosed.

"The leader commented at the annual meeting that solicitors delay things because they are getting paid but she is unclear whether that is a criticism of the council’s own team or others."

Erosion of openness, democracy and accountability

He added: "The leader’s report says that last year the Alliance reintroduced, 'reverse proportionality to all scrutiny committee meetings and supported the appointment of chairs of these meetings drawn from those who are not part of the Alliance'.

"The Alliance also pledged in May last year that the chair of Corporate Scrutiny Committee would come from the main opposition group — the Conservatives — who are the only opposition group on the council.

"This approach has now been abandoned. The policy of reverse proportionality on scrutiny committees has been scrapped, as confirmed at the Annual Meeting (18th May 2022).

"The Alliance have given the chair of corporate scrutiny committee and chair of children’s services policy and scrutiny committee to the sole Labour councillor who voted through all the Alliance’s other committee nominations and has a record of being supportive of them at previous council meetings.

"In the spirit of cross-party working, I met with the council leader in advance of the annual meeting to discuss possible co-operation and agreement over committee chairs.

"The Conservatives supported all sitting Alliance committee chairs. The Alliance, backed by Labour, blocked every nomination from the Conservatives and agreed nothing.

"I look forward to continuing to work with those Alliance members who are willing to work cross-party.

"I hope these councillors hold greater sway with the Alliance leadership in the coming year and Alliance members who continue to pedal divide and control politics inside the leading group are diminished in influence by their fairer minded colleagues."