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Weekly renews funding fight after ‘disappointing’ ministerial visit

Fight WightA weekly newspaper has renewed its fight to get more government funding for its patch despite a “disappointing” ministerial visit.

As previously reported on HTFP, the Isle of Wight County Press is running a six month ‘Fight for the Wight’ campaign to ensure its patch gets a ” fair deal” from Westminster.

Isle of Wight Council is currently “on the edge of bankruptcy”, and one in five children live in poverty on the island – with wage levels 20pc lower than neighbouring mainland areas.

IWCP editor Alan Marriott spoke to Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, during a recent visit to the island.

But in an editorial for the newspaper after the visit, Alan wrote: “The Prime Minister and Mr Clark had previously said they recognised the island’s unique case as it struggles for better funding from Whitehall.

“So the scene was set, we hoped, for him to see and hear about for himself the problems we have and hopefully do something meaningful about them.

“However, his message on the day, seemed to be pretty much we were not unique, that councils around the country had similar problems, more cuts were to come, so we had just better get on with it and set a budget for next year.

“While no word has come forth that we will not get any extra cash, the prevailing mood after the meetings (held over a few hours in County Hall) was one of despair — one person in the meetings said council officials looked ‘suicidal’ afterwards.”

So far, more than 8,000 peopl have singed the IWCP’s petition on the issue.

Support has come from celebrity’s including Jeremy Irons and Level 42’s Mark King.

Alan told HTFP: “”The County Press team is working hard to get every facet of our community involved, from celebrity Islanders Jeremy Irons and Level 42’s Mark King to driving instructors, shopkeepers and the man and woman in the street, we are trying to reach them all.

“Mr Clark’s visit was disappointing in its tone, but we are not giving up the Fight for the Wight and the IWCP team is right behind it.”