The body which plans the South East’s transport needs to boost the region’s economy has published its investment strategy for the next 30 years, and it seems the Isle of Wight is unlikely to benefit from any of the £45million earmarked for various transport initiatives.
Transport for the South East’s (TfSE) 126-page strategic investment plan has gone out to consultation, and the Isle of Wight appears just six times throughout the entire document, each time describing the current situation. There is no mention of the Island at all in the ‘Our visions, goals and priorities’ section.
By contrast, Brighton is mentioned 51 times, Southampton 56, and Portsmouth 31 times. Eastbourne, with its population of 103,000, compared to the Island’s 142,000, gets 58 mentions.
Set up in 2017, the Isle of Wight Council has been a member of the body from the start, with membership costing £30,000 a year. There are sixteen local authority members and five local enterprise partnerships (LEPs), including the Solent LEP, which covers the Island. There are also representatives of district and borough authorities, and national bodies such as Network Rail.
The plan ‘aligns with and supports government priorities to decarbonise the transport system, level-up left-behind communities and facilitate sustainable economic growth in the South East’ and builds on the transport strategy, published in 2020, which also mentions the Island just six times in its 124 pages. It is claimed the investment plans will help generate 21,000 new jobs and unlock growth of £4.1billion a year by 2050.
Despite the chairman, Cllr Keith Glazer, leader of East Sussex County Council, claiming that all modes of transport are covered across the whole of the South East, the document mentions ferries only once, and that is in relation to cross-Channel services.
Cllr Phil Jordan, cabinet member for transport & infrastructure, was unimpressed. He said: “When the Alliance took over the council last year, we inherited many legacies of the past. One of those was membership of TfSE who, for some time, had been working on a 30-year future transport investment strategy across the region. That has now been published and I am really disappointed that the Island does not appear to be of any significance in this report.
“I have decided to immediately review our membership of this organisation to see if our annual contribution is good value for the Island and for the Island community. If it is not, then I will take the decision to resign our membership without hesitation. As people often remind me, every penny counts.”
You can find the consultation, which closes on September 12, at https://bit.ly/IWO-TfSEconsult.