On Monday I issued a statement announcing my intention to step down from the role of leader of the Isle of Wight Council.
This was a very hard decision to make. I agonised over it in the days prior to writing and releasing the statement, but it was the right thing to do. As I said in that statement, “One of the skills of leadership is knowing when to lead and when to stop.”
My decision was, I am afraid, the result of the ongoing party-political games being played by certain elements within the council.
A few weeks ago, it was the front-page story on the IW Observer that the Conservative Group leader had rejected the idea of taking control of the council and said she wanted what “is best for the Island and its residents” and that she would be discussing how to achieve this with me. Those discussions never took place, and a few weeks later it was announced that there was to be a vote of no confidence in me at the September full council meeting.
These games have become a serious distraction for the Council and must stop. It achieves nothing other than wasting time and diverting energy that could be better used elsewhere. There is vital and necessary work currently being undertaken for the Island’s people which must not be disrupted, particularly in terms of the efforts being made to secure a proper financial deal for the Island.
It is clear that as well as being directed by the personal ambitions and interests of a few members, the Conservative move is rooted in a personal attack against me. For this reason, I have decided that the best course is for me to step aside and for someone else who also has the interests of the Island at heart to take over the role of leader. As such I will be proposing that Cllr Phil Jordan succeeds me at the IW Council meeting next week.
Recent statements from the Conservative Group that they wish to work together have now been proven to be false. They claim their current moves are based on cross-party support and discussions. This is simply not the case. They do not have support from Labour, Green Party or Liberal Democrat councillors, all of whom have said they wish to work with and support the Alliance.
When I became leader, it was clear that the IW Council was struggling, particularly due to reduced funding from government. On taking control the Alliance took decisive action to stabilise things and created a new direction focussed much more on the needs of our residents and communities and our environment. During my leadership, we have achieved much. Just in the last few weeks, we have been working with Ofgen to improve access to the National Grid to support renewable energy development.
I have worked tirelessly over the years for the benefit of the Island people, and I will continue to do what I can while I remain as a councillor. My primary focus will always remain the push for the elusive Island Deal and the potential that holds.
I thank my fellow residents for their support and faith over the last two and a half years. I would like to give my sincere thanks for all your kindness and concern expressed in messages to me in the last few days. Apologies if I have not responded yet, but I will try to get back to you all. I am very humbled by your love and support.