Maybe they’d all been at the Christmas sherry a little early, but the IW Council’s final meeting of 2023 on Wednesday was shockingly civil and lacked all the cross-party insults and snarky point-scoring that too often passes for ‘debate’ in County Hall.
It helped that the agenda was uncontroversial. After public questions, the usual reports and tidying up committee memberships, the agenda moved on to meatier items.
Three motions from individual members covered pension unfairness, new laws for fair government funding and how much the council values the armed forces. This being the IW Council, they ran to 1,042 words.
Cllr Michael Lilley spoke for the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI). Council leader, Cllr Phil Jordan, quickly stole his show, declaring he would not only write to the minister but would do so within the week. Only Cllr Geoff Brodie dared to point out that probably nothing would happen as a result. As he raised the same issue seven years ago, he might have a point.
Nonetheless, the motion passed unanimously to a round of applause from WASPI women in the gallery.
Next up, Cllr Nick Stuart demanded new laws for fair funding and subsidies for cross-Solent travel. This was somewhat undermined by Cllr Richard Quigley’s statement of the blindingly obvious; “motions like this don’t mean anything or do anything outside this chamber”, adding plaintively: “I do wish we could start to do something meaningful for the people of the Island.”
Lesser mortals might have shouted “Amen to that”, but our councillors ignored him and pressed on regardless to another unanimous vote.
The lovefest continued with Cllr Ian Dore’s motion, as everybody professed their undying love for our armed forces, achieving the third unanimous vote of the evening.
The final item on the agenda was members’ questions. Perhaps sensing an early end to the torture, or maybe just in a generous mood, Cllr Jordan agreed to pretty much everything he was asked for. However, the Christmas spirit didn’t extend everywhere as he let slip to Cllr Brodie, that whilst “in a contractual sense all milestones have been met”, perhaps Island Roads and he don’t see eye to eye on the “levels of service that are being provided for the money we are paying”.
Will the January meeting be just as civilised? With more divisive topics on the horizon, we can only wait and see. Send your predictions to our Island Soapbox page.