Control over Island Roads is imperative

By Cllr Steve Cowley

Friday, March 14, 2014



From Cllr Steve Cowley, Wellow:

As mayor of Yarmouth, I respond to the concerns of local people. We all understand the need to do the work at Bouldnor to ensure Yarmouth is not cut off.

To enable people to understand why things are being done and why roads are being closed, Island Roads (IR) has a responsibility to inform people accurately what is going to be done and when, so they can plan to get on with their lives despite the works. As taxpayers, we are paying for the work.

Last October, we were informed the roads were to be closed for two weeks. Residents and businesses understood and accepted the closure as a consequence of the work.

However, IR decided without further consultation it needed to shut the road for seven weeks, until at least April 4. Various excuses were given about wind, rain and the involvement of British Gas and Southern Electricity. These reasons lack credibility. If the work was planned properly, these issues would have been taken into account before work started.

The Bouldnor road closure was advertised as starting at 9am on Monday, February 17, but, without explanation, the road was closed at about 7am. I phoned the IW Council to complain on behalf of those affected, to be told IR regulated its own road closures.

The issue of access for emergency services while the road was closed was raised because IR had not contacted the RNLI. It appears IR had informed other emergency services by e-mail but actual access arrangements had not been made. IR agreed with the ambulance service it would give it the access code to two sets of gates to get through at night. This unsatisfactory arrangement was not put in place.

Tennyson Road was closed in order to be resurfaced, with the work done mostly at night 'so as not to disrupt through traffic during the day’. There was no through traffic, as the road was closed, so residents were kept awake all night unnecessarily by work which could have been done by day.

Three main issues arise, which need to be addressed to ensure other villages and towns across the Island do not suffer damage to businesses and lifestyles, as has Yarmouth.

IR failure to plan adequately how the work was going to be done and how long it was going to take.

IR failure to consult with the community and to communicate effectively.

The IW Council is not exercising proper control over how IR delivers the PFI contract

When the PFI contract was awarded to IR, staff involved in setting it up retired from the council. Some moved directly to assist IR deliver the contract, leaving the council short of experienced staff to monitor IR.

With IR in possession of a 25-year contract, the IW Council needs to take control to protect the council tax payers.

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