Isle of Man Examiner letters, May 6, 2013

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Thank you for caring

I was on the island last week visiting my family and wanted to write to say thank you through the newspaper to the ladies collecting for Breast Cancer (Breast Cancer Breakthrough) outside the M&S car park at the top of Drumgold Street on Friday, April 26.

Having lost my wife to breast cancer in February this year, before she passed away she asked that I spread her ashes somewhere that had been very special to us both and I returned to the island where we had grown up, met and married and duly fulfilled my promise to her.

Meeting the ladies and talking about my wife with them was very emotional for me and I was overwhelmed by their kindness, warmth and understanding.

Despite the heavy rain they battled bravely on and I truly hope that they had a successful two days with their ‘bra dash’” run. It was wonderful to see so much effort going in to raise funds on the island to fight this terrible disease.

Mark Smith, Alicante, Spain

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Morals versus the law . . .

I read the ‘KPMG Roundtable on Tax’ in May’s ‘Business Word’ (Examiner last week) with interest and bemusement.

It was worrying to read your contributors’ lack of understanding of the difference between legality and morality, and the deep suspicion of any measures of transparency such as the KYC documentation. Their bafflement at the very question of morality in tax affairs is sadly symptomatic of a sector that has lost all connection with the wider community, both local and global.

It seems that the island’s financial sector still has a lot work to do to promote itself as a transparent and just jurisdiction. The status quo seems to suggest that it would be preferable to market ourselves as an immoral and opaque community in which to do business.

Michael Manning, Hilary Road, Douglas

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Ban exports to keep abattoir

Isle of Man abattoir won’t be losing 8,000 sheep and 200 cattle because of losses in the snow (Front page, April 29). It would have been losing them anyway, since so many are exported!

Ban the export of livestock for slaughter and our abattoir will be back in business, simple!

Alternatively, penalize farmers who export for slaughter, since money is the language they understand.

Name and address supplied.

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Why did he say sorry for letter?

Busy with spring-cleaning (well there’s always hope) I have only just got round to reading April 22’s Examiner.

I was amazed to see a letter of apology from the gentleman who wrote that shepherds would once have known where to look for buried sheep (April 8). His letter sparking indignant response (April 15).

Mr Williams must be a very charitable person indeed.

What on earth did he have to apologise for?

He only wrote the truth, but I guess nothing stings like the truth, hence the bristly responses from Mr Gelling and Mrs Glynn-Riley.

The latter even sank to cheap sarcasm with her ‘hobby-horse’ comment.

What a way to treat a visitor to our Island, whose letter so obviously stemmed from sincere concern, not only about the sheep but about modern trends in farming altogether and consumer arrogance and waste. Mr Williams’ observations are true, whether palatable or not.

I would say our farmers were caught with their pants down. Heavy snow and wind direction were well forecast and examples had already occurred in the UK.

They did not take it seriously enough until it was too late.

They should have known sheep head in the direction of drifting and taken steps to round them elsewhere, to safer areas or into yards, neighbour helping neighbour in advance of, not after, the event.

The lady whose animals perished when the barn into which she brought them to shelter collapsed under the weight of the snow, is to be commended for at least trying and I hope her misfortune won’t be used as an excuse by other farmers, not to bring stock to shelter in future. Let’s be positive and count how many barns etc did not collapse.

Mr. Gelling cannot be sure that such weather only occurs every 50 years. Let’s hope lessons have been learned to avoid future suffering. No excuses.

M. Watterson, Malew St, Castletown

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A tremor, not an earthquake

So, we are sold ‘Sefton failure would have been like an earthquake in local economy’.

Let’s check this out.

Trade creditors of Sefton are said to be £1.7 million.

If this was not paid it could be drastic for a few, very few, businessmen.

If the £1.7 million disappeared in total, forever, which it wouldn’t, what is the effect of that?

The total size of the Manx economy is about £3.508 million (gross domestic product – GDP), £1.7 million is less than 0.05 per cent of the Manx economy. The effect would be microscopic.

What about the size of Sefton Group PLC in relation to the Manx economy?

The accounts as at December 31, 2011 (nobody is publishing more up to date data), show turnover of continuing businesses as £17.051 million, this is less than 0.5 per cent of the economy.

Turnover was made up of (continuing business) Hotel Operations £9.24 million, Gaming £3.39 million, Cinema £09.73 million, Property Rental £3.507 million. Other £0.184 million.

If the whole 0.5 per cent of GDP were lost for ever, it would be a setback, not a catastrophe.

The big point is this would not happen.

The even bigger point is that these continuing businesses were profitable. They show an operating profit of £2.34 million.

So how come Sefton Group PLC lost £6.3 million?

The highly eminent chairman himself tells us a lot were massive exceptional losses. Losses on interest rate swaps (I’ll tell you what they are if you really want to know) and losses on capital disposals and provisions for losses on assets. What does this mean? It means that group assets are not worth what was paid for them.

If Sefton Group had been put into liquidation there would have been no earthquake with the Sefton and Palace Hotels vanishing into vast holes, never to be seen again. No massive job losses.

No disaster for the Manx economy.

Sure, liquidation would have caused some disruption. A few bumps in the road, a few cracks in the tarmac, the odd pothole.

A tiny tremor that’s all, to be quickly repaired.

A liquidator has a legal duty to get the best prices possible for a company’s assets on behalf of the creditors.

Consequently profitable parts of the company are kept trading to maximise pries. The accounts of Sefton Group show the basic businesses are profitable.

In liquidation they would be bought by other businesses and become stronger and better, to the benefit of the Manx economy as a whole.

Liquidation though would have crystalliaed the group’s asset and other losses. So who would have taken the big hit then

Not the ordinary residents of the Isle of Man. So who?

Yes, you’ve guessed it. The directors and shareholders of the group. The eminent, the embedded in business and the socially important.

The primary obligation of government in economic terms is to create the conditions for fair competition on a level playing field. This has not happened. The state has rigged the market in favour of a small group. This should not be done.

To conclude. If Mr Bell and Mr Teare really believe what they have been telling us, then they are not capable of doing a proper analysis and understanding of what they have done. Bluntly, they are too thick to be in their jobs.

If on the other hand they know the real results of the bail-out, but will not admit it, they have been dissembling like mad. Drenching us in a shower of, at best, disingenuous statements. This is so reprehensible that they should not be in their jobs either.

Take the honourable course – resign.

A. Walton, Baldrine

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Remove traffic calming blight

Can whatever department is responsible for the ghastly ‘temporary’ traffic calming system that has blighted the Tholt-y-Will for the past few years, please either remove it or replace it with a permanent structure that compliments the spectacular surrounding vista.

Not only is the current ramshackle arrangement a visual abomination, it is also inept – a driver travelling from Sulby has to be half way through the system before a driver who has ‘priority’ can even be seen and also, from my experience it fails to slow drivers down!

Mark Brabbs, Little Mill Road, Onchan

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Contracts are legally binding

Once again your newspapers seem to want to vilify the bus drivers for sticking up for themselves.

Which part of the DCCL (Department of Community, Culture and Leisure) breaching the driver’s contract of employment do you not understand?

I think that taking the DCCL to the high court is a great idea. If it works out, I think that the other government departments that have breached their employees contracts should also be taken to the high court.

Incidentally, I must contact The Oxford English Dictionary, to let them know that they’ve a serious typographical error within their pages.

I looked up the word ‘contract’ in the OED, and the definition reads ‘a legally-binding agreement’ .

Surely it should read ‘A meaningless word, especially when it relates to employment on The Isle of Man’. I’m duty bound to inform them of this error.

In the wake of The Sefton Group scandal, possibly the worst case of cronyism I’ve ever seen, the Manx people should wake up and smell the corruption within their elected body of ‘representatives’ and make some serious changes at the next election.

Obergruppenfurher Bell has challenged Peter Karran to bring a vote of no confidence against him. If only there was a way for the voters to do that BEFORE the next election!

Brett McLinden, Hazel Close, Douglas

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Attempt to ease congestion

In your newspaper dated April 29, a Mr Barwood wrote expressing concerns about the traffic congestion on the morning journey from Peel to Douglas along the Peel Rd at the approach to Quarterbridge Roundabout, stating that congestion was significantly worse since the start of the Peel Road reconstruction project.

The department is aware that there is traffic congestion on the Peel Road route to Douglas, particularly in the morning peak on the approach to Quarterbridge roundabout.

This route was congested before the start of the Peel Road reconstruction project partly because traffic from the south has priority over traffic from the west, given the normal priority at roundabouts.The resident highlighted a possible solution, which the Department already had under consideration.

That is to place temporary traffic lights on New Castletown Road near to the TT Access Road on the northbound approach to Quarter Bridge.

These signals will create gaps in the northbound flow and will result in the flow onto the Quarterbridge Roundabout being more equally distributed between the west and the south.

The department will trial this arrangement and will continue to monitor the situation.

Drivers are also advised to allow more time for their journeys and to consider using alternative routes where practical.

Richard Pearson, Director of Highways.

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Don’t allow caravans here

A planning application has recently been submitted for the stationing of a static caravan.

Historically ‘caravans’ were not allowed on the Isle of Man. Not by any planning proscription as far as I know, but by the simple expedient that the Steam Packet Company either would not, or could not, bring them over. Now that restriction seems to have been abandoned or relaxed and they are noticeably beginning to be seen creeping-in.

I asked, in the strategic plan, that a policy on caravans should be set-out but my pleas were ignored (several times!)

Anyone who has watched the TV programme Coast cannot fail to have noticed in fleeting shots, the vast rash of caravan covered fields in what was once English or Welsh countryside. Are we to have this on our island?

Alright, this application is only for one, and I don’t suppose the applicant, who has my sympathy, realises what he will unleash if he gets his approval.

So this can be the start of something big. In the absence of any planning policy covering such development, one approval sets the precedent. I sincerely hope the planning committee realises what could happen and will act accordingly.

Ian K Bleasdale, Maughold

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