MP ‘doesn’t understand’ he must work with others

A visit by a little-known minister has shone a spotlight on Bob Seely, but not quite in the way he planned.

The visit to Ryde last Friday of Jacob Young, from the Department for Levelling Up, Communities and Housing (DLUCH), highlighted the MP’s attitude towards the IW Council leader and his refusal to answer straightforward questions.

Last Wednesday, the IW Observer was asked to report the visit of Mr Young, who wanted to highlight the Towns Fund grant to Ryde. In an election year, such visits are used to boost awareness of government policy and provide photo opportunities for local candidates. We were agreed a one-to-one interview.

At that evening’s council meeting, we mentioned the visit to Cllr Joe Robertson, Tory parliamentary candidate for IW East.

Surprisingly, Cllr Robertson was completely unaware of the trip and was clearly taken aback that Mr. Seely had not informed him.

Throughout the meeting, Cllr Robertson was seen texting furiously, seemingly trying to get to the bottom of what was going on.

The following morning, our promised interview with Mr. Young was abruptly cancelled due to “diary changes”, and Cllr Robertson had received a last-minute invitation to meet Mr. Young.

We later received a press release from Mr. Seely claiming the minister had said, “I’m grateful to Bob Seely MP and Cllr Joe Robertson for inviting me. Together, they are working to get a better deal for the Island and to help us to level up.” Government press officers would not confirm that the quote was authorised by the minister.

Notably absent from Mr. Seely’s press release was any mention of Cllr Phil Jordan, leader of the IW Council, who also attended the meeting, giving credence to rumours that Mr. Seely is unwilling to work with Cllr Jordan and the Alliance group that runs the council.

Cllr Jordan told the IW Observer: “I said ‘Hello’ to Bob, but he didn’t answer me and then didn’t say one word to me during the two hours we were with the minister.”

In January, Labour candidate for IW West, Cllr Richard Quigley, pointed out some “Key Achievements” on Mr. Seely’s website were clearly untrue, including that he “helped secure” the funding for Ryde. The claim remains on Mr. Seely’s website despite government records showing that Ryde and other towns were selected for funding based on freely available and objective criteria.

We asked Mr. Seely four questions. Why didn’t he tell Cllr. Robertson about the visit? Did the minister provide the quote in his press release? Has he refused to work with the Alliance group and Cllr. Jordan? And what did he do to secure the funding for Ryde? Mr. Seely responded with a statement that did not answer the questions. When pressed for answers, he said he “would not be commenting further.”

Readers of the IW Observer can draw their own conclusions from Mr. Seely’s lack of answers. However, his attitude towards working with the Island’s council is potentially serious, given the disastrous state of the Island’s ferry services and other important issues. Mr. Seely has not consulted Cllr Jordan or the ruling administration about plans he has published about the ferry companies or seeking funding for the Island’s road infrastructure, despite the IW Council being the Transport Authority.

Cllr Quigley said: “Our beleaguered MP, Bob Seely, is well-known to be desperate for column inches and photo opportunities, but he’s severely lacking in action for the Island or understanding that the MP needs to work with other people – even if you don’t like them. Not inviting Cllr Robertson to a meeting and snubbing Cllr Jordan highlights how far down his list doing the best for the Island is.”

This article was written before the July 4 General Election was announced.