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Secretary of State Greg Clark gets the Fight for the Wight message

Tuesday, March 8, 2016 - 9:42

THE Fight for the Wight message reached government within hours of its launch, it has been revealed.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Greg Clark, and local government minister Marcus Jones, met with the Isle of Wight Conservative group leader, Cllr Dave Stewart, and fellow Tory Cllr Ian Ward at the annual Conservative councillors' conference in Oxford on Friday.

It coincided with the launch of Fight for the Wight, a joint campaign started by the County Press and the Isle of Wight Council calling for fair funding for the Island, which has already been backed by thousands of people.

Cllr Stewart told the Isle of Wight County Press that Mr Clark already knew about the campaign before they spoke.

In a statement issued after the conference, Cllr Stewart said: "We reminded Greg and Marcus (who was also present) that the Island is a unique case, as has already been recognised by the Prime Minister

"We now need to present our unique funding challenges in a way which helps the government to appreciate the additional financial burdens which the Island faces to enable them to help us find ways to get through the immediate financial challenges. 

"I support the government’s policy to reduce the deficit and the country voted the government into office on that basis. 

"However, locally the consequences of the local government funding formula, inherited from a previous Government, have been devastating. 

"The existing, long-standing formula simply does not recognise our unique situation. I told Greg we needed more support to enable us to cope with the consequences.

"So that’s the message Ian and I took to the heart of government this weekend, and I welcome the announcement of a full needs-based review to put in place a new formula. There was common acceptance that a different formula is required — one which takes into account the unique features that apply to the Island. 

"In the meantime Greg indicated to us that they would take explore with the Treasury what could be done about the transitional arrangements regarding the use of capital receipts. It is clear he is determined to ensure that the Isle of Wight remains sustainable."

Cllr Stewart said he expected other government officials to visit the Isle of Wight before Mr Clark and said it was unlikely the minister would come before May.

The Fight for the Wight campaign is calling for government to rethink its funding for the Island, taking into account key issues such as its ageing population, separation from the mainland and low wages.

So far it has attracted the support of politicians from across the spectrum, including Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, big businesses including Red Funnel and Wightlink and a host of small firms on the Island, as well as the Chamber of Commerce and Bestival.

Close to 3,700 have so far signed a petition, due to be presented to government ahead of the Autumn Statement, later this year.

Click below to find out more and join the fight:
Fight for the Wight


Reporter: [email protected]

 


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