January News

Niton and Whitwell Parish Council met on Monday 25th January 2016. The Chairman opened by welcoming a number of members of the public and press to a packed Edward Edwards Library, Niton.

            Members of the Parish Council and of the public expressed extreme concern for the future of the “White Lion” public house and of Niton and Whitwell villages. I have written to the freeholder, Enterprise Inns, stating that all businesses in Niton are being adversely affected by the closure of the “White Lion”; and that the local business community was well represented at the Parish Council meeting and made a strong case for urgent action to be taken.

            Local geological expert Dr Bruce Denness’ costed proposed scheme for the long-term stabilisation of Undercliff Drive received overwhelming support from the Parish Council and members of the public. It was noted that the whole life of the Parish has been adversely affected by the closure of Undercliff Drive, with businesses being hit particularly by the loss of vehicular access between Niton and Ventnor. I have now submitted the proposal to the Isle of Wight Council for serious professional consideration. As Dr Denness points out in his summary of the proposal, a slight variation from the Isle of Wight Council investigatory proposal has the potential to achieve long-term stabilisation for the same cost as the current plan to install a footpath and vehicle turning points. Therefore, if the Isle of Wight Council is mindful to reject the proposal, the Parish Council has asked to be informed of the specific grounds for the decision.

            After these sobering issues came discussion of the budget and precept: yet more bad news! In order to maintain current services and approve projects for next year (including community transport, youth outreach, and the all-weather pedestrian route between the two villages), the Parish precept will rise to £34,167 from £18,839. This represents an increase of £1.37 per month for Band D properties. The Chairman commented afterwards: “These are challenging times, and the decision to ask residents for a tax increase wasn’t taken lightly. But it’s becoming clearer by the month that if we don’t step up to the plate and safeguard services, no one will. Things we take for granted, like the recreation ground and the library, would be at risk without our support.” Full details of the budget are available on the Parish Council’s website.

            The problem of dog waste on pavements and footpaths was raised. If you are lucky enough to be a dog owner, please do clean up after your pet: you can use any public bin to dispose of the waste. Thank you.

            After several accidents in icy conditions on the Niton to Rookley road, I was asked to inform Island Roads that the winter treatment of the road is inadequate. I have requested that, until the problem of running water on the road is solved, multiple salt bags are secured on the side of the road.

            It’s true there is much to concern us about the future of our Parish. However, earlier this week, my daughter and I were privileged to be involved in a community interview for a Public Health Local Area Coordinator. (Local Area Coordination is a long term evidence based approach to supporting people of all ages with disabilities and/or mental health needs and older people and their families to stay strong, safe and connected as contributing citizens and to support the building of more welcoming, inclusive and supportive communities.) Twenty of us from Ventnor, Niton, Chale and Whitwell sat round a table at Salisbury Gardens, Ventnor, whilst candidates for the post asked us to reflect on what was good about our community and why it’s a great place in which to live. It didn’t take long for us to realise we had plenty to list!

Vickie Ford, Clerk to the Parish Council