IT IS now six months since Lora Peacey-Wilcox put together a collective of independent councillors to take control of the Isle of Wight Council, so it seems a fitting time to give them their first unofficial performance review.

Soon after taking control, Lora announced that the new administrations priorities were to be as follows:

1. Spend and invest as much council money on the Isle of Wight as is possible.

2. Gain greater control of the planning system and prioritise truly affordable housing for Isle of Wight residents.

3. Place the health and wellbeing of residents at the centre of all activity and prioritise dealing with health inequalities and the resulting poverty which has been highlighted during the pandemic.

4. Work with local communities to maintain and ensure appropriate local school provision.

5. Treat Covid recovery as integral to everything, including supporting the regeneration of our town centres and aim to ensure there is free parking provision in all towns.

6. Find a permanent working solution to Floating Bridge 6 — if appropriate by scrapping and replacing it.

I pointed out at the time these pledges were made that; with the exception of the promise to sort out the floating bridge, the promises looked to be nothing more than soundbites that didn’t really mean anything, so was I being unfair, or have we seen these ‘priorities’ implemented? Here’s my review:

1. The former Tory administration invested in a number of commercial properties on the mainland, so presumably Lora and Co were planning to cash-in those investments to invest the funds on the Island — has this been done? I’ve certainly seen no mention that it has, so how much of a ‘priority’ was it?

Personally I don’t see a problem with council funds being invested in property on the mainland — as long as they are good investments — but as it was a priority pledge by this administration to invest council money here on the Island, when are they planning to do it?

2. I have also seen no evidence that the council have either: a) gained greater control over the planning system or b) prioritised affordable homes for locals. As I stated six months ago, I really couldn’t see how the planning system could be changed. It was a naive promise — or are they going to prove me wrong? If so, when?

3. Have health inequalities and poverty been tackled as a ‘priority’? Yet again, I see no evidence. What did this pledge actually mean?

4. Has anything changed at all with our education system? Again, I haven’t seen evidence of it. It really does look nothing more than a soundbite.

5. Having walked my dog around both Newport and Sandown recently, there is no sign whatsoever of any regeneration taking place, and in fact these particular towns look worse than ever. It’s about time the council forced those responsible to smarten up their shop fronts.

As for the free parking, I see no sign of that either. Councillor Julie Jones-Evans is in charge of regeneration, so if this is remains a priority, we need to see some action.

6. Every week without fail the councillor in charge of transport, Phil Jordan, has delivered a statement regarding the floating bridge. He has told us that the council are commissioning a technical report and once that’s done, mediation will take place with the builders and designers.

Following the end of the mediation; which Councillor Jordan has promised will be before the end of the year, we are told by Mr Jordan that a, “serious decision” will be made about the floating bridge. The floating bridge has been out of action since August due to yet more mechanical problems, and in March another £250,000 is to be spent on a ‘service’ — talk about throwing good money after bad. The correct “serious decision” would be to scrap the floating bridge straight away (don’t bother with the service) and just keep a passenger launch.

In summary, I don’t really see that much has changed in the past six months, however, it is still early days, so for now I am giving this administration the benefit of the doubt.

Sometimes, just plodding along isn’t a bad thing, but as I have stated more than once, it is the outcome of the floating bridge that this council will be judged on, so let’s hope they get that “serious decision” right.