Newsletter ban in centre dispute

By Jon Moreno

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Newsletter ban in centre dispute

Ventnor Coastal Centre, at the centre of a dispute.

A NEWSLETTER inviting the public to have its say on the future of Ventnor Coastal Centre has been banned from a library by the centre’s owners, the Isle of Wight Council.

The authority, which ordered the newsletter’s withdrawal before they were displayed at Ventnor Library, says action was taken because it contained inaccuracies and misleading and contentious statements.

In the publication, which forms part of Ventnor Town Council’s campaign to retain the Coastal Visitor Centre, in Salisbury Gardens, residents are urged to give their views on the future of the site and download a petition form. The local authority refuted statements in it, including that it was determined to sell Salisbury Gardens, it supported a bid to develop the centre, the building belonged to Ventnor and money raised from its sale would be spent elsewhere.

The authority also said the newsletter could be interpreted as political — an allegation the town council denied.

However, the Isle of Wight Council also said it had no intention of giving the centre to the town council.

The authority wants to sell the centre on the open market for more than £400,000 but the town council wants to lease it or buy it for less.

In a statement, the town council said it would not be having the newsletter reprinted and it would welcome a commitment by the Isle of Wight Council not to sell Salisbury Gardens.

The town council also disputes the Isle of Wight Council’s moral right to own the coastal visitor centre and accused it of 'asset-stripping’ Ventnor.

Ventnor mayor, Cllr Steve Stubbings, said: "The Isle of Wight Council has taken a very heavy-handed approach about it. If anything, this publicity has done us a huge favour in highlighting the issue."



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Displaying the last 10 of 16 comments - Show All Comments

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by Don Prescott

26th February 2013, at 12:43:50


We really are getting into the realms of fantasy now.

You state that "The column headed 2012/13 also includes the words 'projected actual'"

Well, which is it to be?

Surely the 2013/14 should be designated "projected", as 2014 IS in the future, whereas 2012 WAS in the past, so you are saying that the figures YOU have published (not me) for 2012/13 are totally inaccurate and represent a "projection", when they should be "ACTUAL".

If the budgeted contingency figure for 2012/13 WAS £10,000, then surely it is incumbent upon whoever is responsible for publishing this document to put that figure and not £2,000.

If you still refuse to accept that it is highly misleading to transpose those two figures and, to add insult to injury, to then list a £6,000 (in red) increase as "Variance from 2012/13", then I see little point in continuing this debate.

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by David Bartlett

26th February 2013, at 09:10:53

Wrong on both counts.
1) I haven't had a 7.5% pay increase. For the current financial year I'm paid for 20 hours a week while my time sheets show an average of 39. The Town Council unanimously decided that was unacceptable and increased my paid hours to 25 from 1 April. The budget also allows for an inflation-linked increase for the Assistant Town Clerk should national negotaitions result in one. Happily, for what I do for the money I get, I'm accountable to the Town Council and not to someone as careless with publishing inaccurate information as you appear to be.
2) You need to read my previous post more carefully than you have. The column headed 2012/13 also includes the words 'projected actual'. The budgeted figure for 2012/13 was £10,000, agains the wihich the budgeted figure for this year is £8,000, ie a decrease of £2,000.
My offer of a meeting, or even answering questions by phone or email remains open to you as to any other resident; facts matter.

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by Don Prescott

26th February 2013, at 08:12:23

Thats an interesting, if somewhat opaque take on your 2013/14 budget.

Nitpick all you like about the population, it does not alter the fact that you have secured a pay rise of 7.5%, whilst most organisations (and households) are having to live in the real world of tough financial constraint.
What makes the VTC Clerks job such a singular exception?
What do you actually DO for 60 hours a week?

As for my "contingency" comment and your reply, I urge you to look again at item 42.
In the column headed 2012/13 the figure is £2,000.
In the column headed 2013/14 the figure is £8,000!
And you think that represents a DECREASE of £2,000??
A trip to Specsavers for you my boy.

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by David Bartlett

25th February 2013, at 19:53:13

I'd be happy to meet up with you for a closer look at the budget and what it actually pays for. I'm sure you would prefer to avoid in future postings the errors of fact you've introduced here: the public meeting you refer to was March 2010 (not 2009), Ventnor's population is 6,115 (not 5,000), the budget pays for 60 hours of Clerks' hours or 1.7ftes (not 2), the total salary costs of the two project workers to be paid for through the precept are £27,000 (not £43,000) and the contingency budget has been reduced by £2,000 from last year's budget (not increased by £6,000). Contingecy' represents a budget provision of potential expenditure which cannot be predicted at the time the budget is agreed, parpticularly necessary when the principal authority is ceasing local services which residents may want to maintain: as with the paddling pool this year.
And I really do object to you referring to my colleagues as jobsworths.when you've clearly no idea what they do.

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by Don Prescott

25th February 2013, at 16:06:40

Just to put things into perspective, Ryde has a population of about 33,000, almost FIVE TIMES that of Ventnor, yet Ryde Town Council asked THEIR residents for £334,900, whilst Ventnor Town Council are demanding £148,676 (just less than half the Ryde precept) from 5,000 residents.

Incidentally, there is an item listed "Projects" at a budget of £66,000, £43,000 of which comprise "salaries" for yet TWO MORE STAFF, who are, 1, "economic" and, 2, "community" development officers.
You could not make it up.

At a stroke, we could save £60,000 a year if we got rid of THREE JOBSWORTHS!0

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by Don Prescott

25th February 2013, at 14:47:04

When you, Mark Hitchman or anyone else says things like "I have to admit that things have changed for the better by the examples you give", you should do a little more research.
As I have said before, Ventnor, a town of some 5,000 souls, does NOT NEED TWO TOWN CLERKS at a cost to the town precept taxpayer of
£46,236 a year, an increase of 7.5% (or £3,256) on last years "salaries" of £42,980.
There is not enough work for ONE Town Clerk.
If you would care to look at their "demands" for 2013/14, you would also see item 42 "Contingency" has a proposed increase from £2,000 last year to £8,000 THIS year!
What IS "contingency"? And should we not be purchasing some pads for it, just in case?
In March 2009, there was a public meeting to get rid of some of these people, but they are still here with the ambition of turning Ventnor into the Hackney of the IOW (at OUR expense, of course).

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by Mike Crowe

24th February 2013, at 20:46:20

David thank you for your detailed email to which i will reply in private, but first I have to admit that things have changed for the better by the examples you give, but it would seem that the 'old image' is still hanging over outside of Ventnor, rather like the Skoda, "A Skoda? Ha Ha Ha", but a Skoda is now a good car made by different a different company. I know someone who has one and swears by it. I feel that the image of Ventnor Council will be the same for quite some time.

A public apology to the present councillors, those who have stayed to turn things round and the new ones in.

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by alan naylor

24th February 2013, at 15:54:12

Now thats a more constuctive statement Mr Crow KEEP IT UP

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by Mike Crowe

24th February 2013, at 15:26:55

David email on its way to you

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by David Bartlett

24th February 2013, at 14:18:56

You'll be pleased to hear that the Town Council has already asked what the feelings are at grass roots level. The Newsletter setting out the issues around Salisbury Gardens has been delivered to every Ventnor household containing a reply paid card for residents to express support for the Town Council's campaign to retain it for the service of the town. The opportunity to contribute views is available through a link on the home page of our website: and those received to date are posted on the web site as a news piece. We are rapidly approaching the 1,000th signature of support through the returned cards and local petitions. If you email me at I'll send you a copy of the newsletter and would be happy to discuss the work of the town council with you directly anytime.

Any views or opinions presented in the comments above are solely those of the author and do not represent those of the Isle of Wight County Press.

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