A series of events to explain more about the project to upgrade the Island’s highways network – including a groundbreaking ‘virtual public meeting’ – have drawn to a close with an overwhelmingly positive feedback received from residents.
Over four days last week, the council held three public meetings and one question and answer session on the social media site Facebook. The purpose of the engagement was to explain more about the Highways PFI scheme.
Under the project – the largest engineering scheme ever undertaken on the Island –£260 million of Government grant will enable the biggest investment in the county’s highways network ever undertaken. Around 800kms of existing Island highways, public pavements, footways and cycleways will be up-graded and maintained over a 25 year period. Other services such as street cleansing, roadside grass-cutting and winter maintenance will be carried out by one contractor increasing efficiency and reducing costs.
To explain more about the PFI, public meetings were held at West Wight Middle School on Monday, County Hall, Newport, on Tuesday and Ryde High School on Thursday last week.
On Wednesday, the council hosted a two-hour Q&A session on Facebook. It was the first time the authority has held a ‘virtual public meeting’ by Facebook. It attracted over 120 comments made up of questions from posters and real-time responses from senior council representatives.
In all, more than 50 people attended the public meetings. Of the feedback forms returned, 87 percent said they found the sessions informative or very informative.
Cllr Edward Giles, IW Council cabinet member responsible for environment, transport and waste, said: “I would like to thank those people who attended the meeting to learn more about the Highways PFI.
“Hopefully we were able to address some genuine questions that were raised and also counter some of the misconceptions that unfortunately exist about the scheme.
“From the feedback forms it was clear that the overwhelming majority found the sessions helpful.”
Cllr Giles said: “The numbers attending the sessions and contributing to the Facebook session were fairly small. I believe that the majority of Islanders – who for years have identified the condition of our roads as a major concern for them – now simply want us to get on and use this huge Government grant to give the Island a highways network of unprecedented quality.”