MP Bob Seely and Isle of Wight Council leader Dave Stewart have joined forces to seek further government support for the Island.
In a joint letter to Local Government Minister Simon Clarke, the pair asked for assistance in three main areas:
- Urgent further support for the Island’s visitor economy.
- Help to buy land in East Cowes for a major regeneration project.
- A renewed commitment to supporting the Island.
The government has already committed additional coronavirus (Covid-19) funding for the Island, including business grants which have been distributed by the council.
More specifically, the Island leaders asked the minister for permission for the council to use the left-over funds — originally allocated to support small businesses — to support the Island’s visitor economy, which brings in more than £300 million into the Iocal economy.
They also asked the minister to support the council in proceeding with the acquisition and development of employment and housing land in East Cowes from Homes England – which includes the Venture Quays site — by agreeing to support the £1.2m investment and a removal of the claw back arrangements imposed by Homes England.
The pair also asked the minister to engage in a discussion around securing Island funding – the so-called ‘Island deal’ — in the 2021/22 budget settlement.
Councillor Stewart said: “We have improved the council’s overall financial resilience over the past three years, so are in a better position to respond to the impact of Covid-19 than might have been the case.
“However, we want to do more in protecing our community and supporting our businesses so we are calling on the government to help us lead the way to economic, social and environmental recovery.”
Mr Seely added: “Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Government has allocated £106 million in additional funding to the Island to tackle and deal with the effects of coronavirus. The council has played a leading role in distributing much of these funds.
“We are now asking the government not only to recognise the issues the Island is facing but also to help and support us when we need it most. That means understanding and assistance in critical areas now and also by agreeing fairer funding in the longer term.
“We need to get our economy back on track but we also need to protect more vulnerable Islanders.”