Ian Ward should ‘step down’ says East Cowes councillor

A councillor has called for an Isle of Wight Council (IWC) cabinet member to “step down” after a difficult week for the Floating Bridge.

Independent representative for East Cowes Town Council and IWC councillor Karl Love has written to IWC leader Dave Stewart, chief executive John Metcalfe and cabinet member for transport and infrastructure Cllr Ian Ward to express his concern surrounding the breakdown of the service during Cowes Week August 9 & 10.

Cllr Love said: “I have suggested that Ian Ward should consider his position after months of empty promises and dithering. The bridge is of such economical importance to our island and towns that it’s successful operation needed to be the priority.

“One replacement launch does not smack of a competent plan of action. The buck stops with Ian Ward. This has gone on far, far, too long. This is tearing our community apart. It’s setting people against people, bridge worker against community. They’re getting nasty comments and so am I. I am expected to put it right, but I am not allowed to be part of the solution because this Tory administration is strangling us Independents.

“With regret I don’t see any other option than for Ian Ward to step down.”

Councillor Karl Love

Cllr Ward said: “I have explained to Karl Love the situation that the council tried to contact him and couldn’t. There’s so many rumours flying around. It ran aground. It was as simple as that. They got the maritime people to come and inspect it, then one of the crewmen spotted a crack in the ramp hinges. There’s three ramp hinges. Then they got Mainstay, the manufacturer down to replace all three hinges. That’s the real situation. John Metcalfe was trying to get that message to Karl.”

Cllr Ward was attending the international WW1 commemorative Great Pilgrimage 90 event in Belgium during the Floating Bridge issues that struck during Cowes Week.

Ian Ward in Belgium at the Great Pilgrimage 90 event

On Monday (August 13) a spokesman for Isle of Wight Council said: “Cowes floating bridge has resumed normal service following the repair of a faulty prow hinge. Remedial work was carried out for the vessel to be back in service on Cowes firework night last Friday (August 10), before the full repair was completed on Saturday (August 11). The original issue arose on Thursday (August 9).

“A workboat, provided by Cowes Harbourmaster and funded by the IWC, is also being used to assist the floating bridge during the ebb tide. The boat helps to create a greater depth of water above the chains, meaning a back up passenger launch is no longer required at these times. The council is working with East Cowes firm Wight Shipyard and shipbuilders Mainstay Marine to find a long-term solution to the issue.”

Cllr Love wants IWC to explain why the Floating Bridge is going to Wight Shipyard, how much it will cost, when it is going and what is going to be done.

IWC directed IW Observer to information released in July regarding the Floating Bridge’s planned works at Wight Shipyard.

A spokesman for IWC said: “Wight Shipyard is drafting plans for hydraulics to tighten and slacken the bridge’s chains, giving yachts proper clearance at all times of the tide – the major technical problem that needs solving. In addition, it will draw up proposals for new prow finger extensions to allow better access for vehicles and reduce noise when the floating bridge docks. The cost of the improvement work will only be known when a design solution is chosen by the council following a procurement process.”