News updates from Beacon’s regular West Wight council columnists:

News from Cllr Steve Hastings

West Wight Schools Confusion Explained
There has been much confusion and controversy around the West Wight schools situation recently. In a previous article, I did state that the Yarmouth School would close, but this was taken out of context as clearly stated in all papers was that All Saints would close and Yarmouth would re-locate to the site of All Saints with a large input of cash from the Government, now known to be £4.5m.

This would of course, after the re-location of Yarmouth which was agreed by the Governors, leave the old school building on the Yarmouth site. It was to this, that I referred previously, that would then be closed, as you can not have two Yarmouth Schools.

I have always stated that Cllr Brading and his officers have always followed procedure correctly, which would mean no predetermination and left open to consultation and decisions by the Governors.

There is of course a difference between the closure of a school and the closure of a school building after re-location. My reference to the closure of Yarmouth was always a reference as to after the re-location and not a predetermination by Cllr Brading, whose behavior in this process has been exemplary, or his officers and just a reference to the recommendation in the Cabinet paper, which I supported in my previous statement, quote as follows:

“I have now seen more emails in support of the recommendation than I have seen opposing it and I think that is down to the process being followed properly. I think it is significant that the Governors are now in favour of the proposal. We are always hearing that more money is needed for schools and I agree that is the case so I think it would be foolish to turn our backs on an offer of Government money for the building of a brand new school in the West Wight where we already have the perfect site available near to where most children are situated. Therefore I will be supporting the recommendation of Cllr Paul Brading in his report.”

Those recommendations are as follows:

(a) That a Public Notice be published in accordance with Section15 of the Education and Inspection Act to discontinue All Saints Church of England Primary School with effect from 31 August 2020 and;
(b) Officers support the Governing Body of The Federation of the Church Schools of Shalfleet and Yarmouth to undertake a period of consultation on the relocation of Yarmouth CE Primary School to the Freshwater site for the start of the 2021 academic year.
(c) A further report be brought to Cabinet in January 2020 to:
Approve the outcome of the Public Notice period on the closure of All Saints CE Primary School and;
Consider the implications of the outcome of the consultation on the relocation of Yarmouth CE Primary School.

More buses for Central Wight
I am sure residents will be very pleased to hear both on route 6 and route 12, after much visiting to Southern Vectis to put our case to them and applying to Government, I have now finally heard that we will be getting a later evening bus on both the 6 and 12 routes.

I am also pleased to report that during the Covid-19 pandemic bus passes can still be used prior to 9.30am which will be a great help to those wishing to take advantage of early shopping trips or to get to appointments that are earlier than 9.30am.

‘We are ready to respond’ — Council leader issues message to the Island in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

In a message to Islanders posted on social media, Councillor Dave Stewart said the council’s focus was the health and wellbeing of its communities.

Maintaining essential services to our most vulnerable residents will be a priority, as will supporting the many local businesses already hard hit by the pandemic, he said.

Councillor Stewart also called on residents to take sensible precautions such as washing hands, keeping social space, self-isolating when required and seeking medical advice through the 111 services when needed. He said: “I want to assure you now that we are doing all we can to protect you and the rest of our Island community as we enter the storm of coronavirus in the days and weeks ahead.

“In the midst of this international public health crisis, the Isle of Wight is stepping up to ensure all our community have what they need to cope with the impact of Covid-19 — we know it will be tough but we are ready and we will respond as necessary.”

Councillor Stewart said the authority would be identifying those most in need and maintaining regular contact with them. A dedicated helpline to support them was also being set up, he said.

He also reassured businesses that the council was working hard to be ready to swiftly deliver the package of funding support announced by the government with further details to follow soon. Councillor Stewart highlighted other measures the council was taking, including:

* Closing all council-run leisure centres, museum and theatre,
* Encouraging council staff to work from home to minimise travel and support social-isolation; and
* Working with partner agencies to ensure plans are in place to provide further support to the community.

He said ferry companies were ensuring goods and people could get to and from the Island through safe and regular services, the police and fire service were fully prepared to respond to any emergency that needed their support and Southern Water had robust plans in place to ensure essential water supplies were maintained for everyone. Councillor Stewart also praised the Island’s community spirit and the outpouring of public kindness and generosity.

“This collective community response is what will see us through this and ensure we do everything we can to overcome coronavirus and rebuild our community afterwards,” he said. “There will be opportunities to help others and everyone can play their part. “We are fortunate to live in a place where community spirit is second to none and now is the time to harness that spirit.”

With best wishes, Steve
Councillor Steve Hastings
Cabinet Member for Procurement, Waste Management and Special Projects – 07870127024