The roads along the South and West Wight are under threat from imminent coastal erosion. The prevailing poor thinking of those who determine the financial and transport policies of the Isle of Wight Council serve to ensure the abandonment of these roads, including Undercliff Drive and the Military Road. This will adversely impact the economy of the entire Island and blight the South and West Wight. This is a petition to ensure these roads remain open.
The coast route heading west from Shanklin towards the Needles is a national asset. It is uniquely evocative of a past golden age of motoring. Running along the perimeter of an area of outstanding natural beauty, it is the gateway to the wonderful downs rising to the north of the road. To the souththe landfalls sharply away to the sea and glimpses of the iconic Needlescan be seen away in the distance. Winter and summer, people drive out here in their hundreds, park up and walk up into the hills with the prize ahead of the view out to sea and across the Island.
More importantly, the road provides a perceived as well as physical connection between the South Wight and the west of the Island. After years of economic decline following the closure of the railway, Ventnor is on the up. Property values are increasing and the area is slowly returning to its Victorian heritage as a premium tourist destination. Without this vital link to the West Wight the economic balance willtip andit is inevitable that the area will once again slip into decline. Investment and business opportunities will certainly dry up. As the community of the South Wight is forced by circumstance to leave, less and less money will be spent on infrastructure and transport in a cycle of decline.
In the intervening years, as a result of road closure, traffic will become concentrated into places that it has no business going.Redirecting the traffic flowthrough the AONB - and upgrading roads to suit -will upset the the harmony and balance of the entire region. In turn, the villages and communities on these routes will have their charm and way of life pushed aside and property values decimated. A steady stream of the disenfranchised will flow away from the South and the area will add to the economic misfortune of the Island as a whole. The ongoing mindset at County Hall thatfails to acknowledgethe core value of this Island will continue to cause damage to the Island's prospects well into the future.
This is not a new issue, but we can no longer count on those we had hoped would do the right thing to do the right thing. It is time to have our say. With the involvement and good will of all the stakeholders, there are solutions available to keep these roads open.
If you are passionate about the Isle of Wight and you think our Island home is worth treasuring, be sure to sign this non-partisan petition to Save the South Wight Coastal Roads.