Isle of Man Examiner: September 20, 2016

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No mention of international aid

In the election manifestos I have so far received, and the interviews with candidates I have listened to, I have found no mention of international aid.

In your own pages, over the past few years, you have reported that the World Bank ranks the Isle of Man as the 8th richest nation in the world in terms of Gross National Income per head of population, that the Isle of Man economy has enjoyed over 30 years of unbroken economic growth and that the island currently gives only around £28 per annum per head in overseas aid, which is 0.07% of GNI, a tenth of the amount that the UN recommends, and puts us at the bottom of the European league table, below Greece, Slovakia and the Channel Islands.

I also note that the issue did not feature in the list of questions that you have put to the candidates.

It would be interesting to know if those seeking election believe that the Isle of Man has any role or responsibilities within the global community, and whether they support the 0.7 campaign, which is calling on the Manx government to honour the pledge made by the Council of Ministers in 2008 to increase giving to 0.7℅ of Gross National Income in International Aid, which is the United Nations recommended amount.

John Binns, Bay View Road, Port St Mary

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The work of our commissioners

A few months ago a gentleman called at my home to ask me to vote for him as a commissioner for Laxey.

During the conversation he asked if there were any matters at local government level that I would like to raise. I suggested that after 12 months waiting the new repositioned bus shelter should have a seat in it.

A few days ago that commissioner stopped me in the street and asked if I had noticed the new very substantial seat in the bus shelter. I had, and thanked him very much for it.

We need to make known, the small but important improvements we would like in our environment and community life, to our local representatives who, if not using them constantly, may not be aware of the benefits of small adjustments.

As a result of this incident I felt it important to expand the scope of my letter by proposing a vote of thanks from those whose small but significant requests have been met, to all the island’s commissioners who have, firstly, listened then acted the appropriate authorities and finally seen the work brought to completion.

Thank you commissioners, your work is noted and very much appreciated.

R A Solomon, Main Road, Lonan

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Thanks to all who protested

We should like through the columns of your newspaper to thank a number of people following our ‘demonstration’” at the Market Place, Peel, Saturday, September 3.

Firstly, all the people who turned out in wet weather to show their support for the Market Place and St Peter’s Church ruins as they were before being interfered with by the ‘powers that be’ and to express their concern for the loss of the cemetery wall and the spending by government of £1.16m when what is urgently needed ( not just in Peel but in other towns and villages) is maintenance of our roads and pavements.

Secondly, special thanks to the Speakers, Peter Kelly, Chris Thomas, Leslie Hanson, Bernard Moffatt, John Kerruish, Greg Hurt and Steven Moore. Also a big thank you to Eric Kelly and Allan Kelly, for sound and Power.

At the demonstration there was also anger at the proposed closure of the church gateway being filled in and the possible loss of the arch, after representations we are hopeful that the gateway will remain open and the archway will remain in place and be refurbished.

There is also a possibility that we could also have replicas of the original gates, we are at the moment researching and trying to discover the design of the last gate that occupied the Lych Gateway as a replacement.

Concern has also been expressed regarding the protection of conservation areas, historic buildings and structures (St Peter’s would probably be classed as a structure) as there is ineffective legislation and no officers to protect them, there are no longer conservation grants for properties in these areas. So many more regeneration projects such as Peel Market Place could happen anywhere in Man and there is nothing to stop it. There was consultation over approximately eight years with the plans changing during that time, and when people commented on each of the plans their concerns were ignored so people lost heart in the whole consultation process. Even objecting at the planning stage made no difference to the outcome.

Government, it seems, can do what it likes in a conservation area BUT if an individual wants to make changes to a window or door they have to comply almost always at greater cost, the grant system was introduced to compensate for that.

We would however take issue with your comments that this was a ‘kerfuffle’ or ‘parish pump politics’ when how government spends taxes should be of concern for us all.

It would interesting to know why the written press failed to attend (except for your photographer) and report our democratic gathering and what the speakers had to say about the built environment.

Hazel Hannan, Peel Commissioner

Editor’s note: The Examiner covered the story in detail on page 10 of September 6’s paper and page six of August 30’s. Unfortunately resources mean it is difficult to send reporters to all such events. But we did talk to participants afterwards by phone, which is actually often a better way of communicating rather than standing with a wet notebook and struggling to hear what they say.

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Congratulations to Easyjet

I was a passenger on the Easyjet flight from Liverpool on Tuesday, September 6, which twice attempted to land at Ronaldsway but the mist was too thick so the captain decided to return to Liverpool.

I wish to praise the way the staff of Easyjet handled this situation as it was quite beyond their control. Within a reasonable length of time they had arranged accommodation at the airport hotel for all passengers who needed it.

In my case, as a passenger who needs assistance, two wonderful members of staff took me there in a wheelchair then settled me in a room with an order for a room service meal. In the morning they collected me with a wheelchair in time for the lunch time flight which eventually managed to take off. I believe they had to bring in an extra plane for the backlog of passengers who did not choose to sail back.

They were obviously working under pressure but were so courteous and willing to do anything to help. Thank you.

Ann Vickers, St John’s

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Destruction of a unique legacy

Our friend, Ellan Vannin, has become unwell and I am asking you to heal it before it becomes too late. God or Nature gave us this astonishingly beautiful place, which came free of charge.

The Victorians enhanced the island with great vision and architecture, creating iconic buildings, walkways and promenades which are still enjoyed to this day.

In Douglas, our capital and the heartbeat of the island, a succession of governments have almost destroyed the unique legacy which the Victorians trusted us with and take care of for future generations to be proud of and enjoy.

Governments and planners have damaged our heart.

Governments and planners who allowed the gateway to our capital fronted by the Villiers Hotel, to be destroyed and replaced with a monstrous half concrete slab with windows, and a wreck of wasteground in the other half.

Governments and planners who allowed a flatroofed stretch of ‘ buildings’ on stilts to be erected and joined on to the beautiful redbrick railstation building, which now has no clock and a tree growing out of it.

There are many, many more hideous eyesores.

Governments and planners allowed a thing called ‘The Palace’ to be built in the middle of Queen Victoria’s stunning seafront crescent.

Meantime, these governments compound the destruction by sitting on their hands while buildings like the Imperial and the Castle Mona are allowed to crumble and become ruins.

As ugly as the Villiers replacement is, it could represent what is a gravestone for our sick friend when it finally passes away.

All these new election candidates, probably like the ones who have tried to destroy Douglas, are united in saying that they are passionate about the Isle of Man and work to increase its quality, prosperity and growth. Good.

When they become elected and the reality of the governing kicks in, they don’t deliver, just waffle, no courage, no vision, no action, march time collect the pension

Heal our sick friend with good building. Create legislation which will stop buildings in the capital becoming somebody’s landbank, with transparency in these dealings.

We will then have a capital which will be a platform for future growth as well as something our embattled population can be proud of.

Don’t you governments realise that everytime you try to promote the island, that Douglas as a capital, is a put off, not all of it, we know, but it is a testimony to the erratic nature of successive governments living hand to mouth and having no vision.

Some good has come out of this madness, the stunning Art Deco Axa building gives us hope ( although to demonstrate the stupidity of the island’s management, someone has allowed a place to be called ‘What the Fork’ next to it, typifying the negative downside in the capital).

Buildings like the new Mannin Hotel, sympathetically restored as all buildings should be, the Douglas Hotel and others give a chance to business people who are trying hard to lift the quality of the quay with restaurants and walkways. The restaurant owners take great risks to keep their businesses successful, but now just look at how vibrant the quay is becoming, and therefore creates that marvellous feeling of confidence which is essential in any growth.

Peel, Port St Mary, Port Erin, Ramsey, are all OK, they have somehow managed to keep their original identity and quality, and even improved it.

When you, the government take notice, and have the strength, no excuses, to fix Douglas and raise the standard and quality, you will have an island which will be sure of investment and prosperity, as well as, most importantly, give the island residents what they work for and deserve.

Chris Neill, Onchan

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Dobbin’s lament

On behalf of all us ‘trammies’

May I give a good loud ‘neigh’

As although we’re only hoofers

We’re entitled to our say.

We’ve been trotting up and down the prom

For many happy years,

Enjoying every minute, getting hugs and tickled ears.

Now we’ve heard some vicious rumours

That our future is in doubt,

And some people in the government, and the council, want us out.

They’ve started selling off our trams

Which surely is a sign,

That we’ll get our marching orders

Not far down the line.

Soon we’ll not be needed,

They’ll do their very best

Yet one more attraction gone,

Just like all the rest.

We may stamp our hooves and grind our teeth

And whinney all the days

But the powers that be, will decide that we

Be banished, out to graze,

Young and old have lobed to ride

On our historic track

Trundling along to the merry sound

As our hooves go clickety clack.

100 years we’ve pulled those trams

With a fanclub far and wide,

From all parts of the globe they came

To enjoy the unique ride.

We remember happy times

When everything was fun

We couldn’t wait to be harnessed up

To do our summer run.

But times must change

And things ‘move on’

No sentiment for times past,

Everything is disposable now,

And nothing meant to last.

Mrs E Foden, Hutchinson Square, Douglas

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Thoughts on the general election

If the hopefuls who are standing really want to prove who’s best, they all should have to undertake a basic IQ test.

‘Onchanite’, Name and address supplied.

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Misleading words from authority

I write regarding the Examiner article August 30, which referred to me and a factually inaccurate public statement by Onchan District Commissioners.

ODC said I have never been a tenant of the squash courts. This is very misleading.

The correct position is that my wife and I were joint parties to a lease for the squash courts as tenant and guarantor respectively and the minutes of ODC record that they were to discuss all matters in relation to the lease with me.

A major issue hidden from the ratepayers and omitted from ODC public statement is that in 2008 they were successfully sued in the High Court as landlords for wrongly trying to prevent the renewal of our lease. The High Court issued an order that the lease be renewed and that ODC pay all the legal costs (in excess of £10,000).

Also omitted from ODC public statement is that after the squash courts were closed two separate Petitions for Redress of Grievance were presented to Tynwald requesting action to deal with undeclared declarations of local authority members interests and investigation of complaints against local authorities.

Tynwald committees upheld both requests and recommendations were made to establish a public register of members interests to identify conflicts of interest and to introduce an ombudsman to investigate complaints against local authority board members and its officers.

The suggestion that allegations of maladministration were unfounded is entirely the opinion of ODC and is completely uncorroborated by any independent source.

On the other hand an independent investigation on behalf of the Public Servie Commission upheld my complaint that wrongdoings by ODC that closed the squash were not given any credence by the DoI in an advice note it issued after a ‘review’ of my earlier complaint. The investigation report said that whilst the advice note was still critical of ODC it did not fully deal with their shortcomings and also, ‘not once had the complainant had the validity of his opinions acknowledged’.

ODC has tried to dismiss these issues by referring to members of the ‘present board’ as having done nothing wrong when it has always been perfectly obvious that it was members of the ‘board at the time’ responsible for closing the squash courts that were being criticised.

The recent clarification by the PSC merely confirmed this position. ODC has also continually said that they consider the matter closed although they have also continually refused to discuss the allegations against them, which are supported by evidence in minutes of their board meetings.

Regarding ODC continuing threat to sue collectively as an authority an MHK for defamation I think someone should explain to them before they waste anymore ratepayers’ money that as a matter of fact this is not legally possible and would be a futile exercise doomed to failure.

Rae Hamilton, Sunnybank Avenue, Onchan

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Think before you vote Houghton

I would urge the voters of North Douglas to think very carefully before using one of their votes for Mr John Houghton in the forthcoming General Election, as currently he is banned from both the House of Keys and Tynwald.

Therefore it would mean electing someone who could neither represent you or the rest of the Isle of Man, unless he apologises for his behaviour during his last term of office.

As he says hell will freeze over before he does, that is unlikely to happen, so effectively it would be a waste of a vote.

Also in such challenging times we need national unity and, although no doubt Mr Houghton portrays to his electorate a positive image, unfortunately he did not seem to have the ability to work with his Tynwald colleagues.

During his last term in office it has been stated that there was a pattern of repeated intimidating and malicious behaviour including lying and bullying.

He challenged legality and authority and his personal attacks on individuals had been extensive and unrelenting.

This was borne out by Clerk of Tynwald Roger Phillips when he spoke of the ‘unrelenting and aggressive’ nature of Mr Houghton’s behaviour which was ‘unprecedented’ in his 30-year career.

Also previously it had transpired that he was the only member of Tynwald not paying his pension.

I have no axe to grind against Mr Houghton and am not in his constituency, being a Garff voter. I simply want the best possible 24 candidates who can work together to create economic growth and tackle any major problems ahead and thereby create a positive outcome for the future of our beautiful island.

Name and address supplied

The other candidates in Douglas North are: Karen Angela, David Ashford,,Ralph Peake and Lynn Sirdefield

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Why bother to vote in this area?

In Douglas East we have eight candidates, no less, pick up a typical manifesto and you will find nothing about issues that really matter, such as Douglas Council and their so called sheltered accommodation; the Customs and Excise agreement with the UK; even the public toilets in York Road which now cost a whopping 20p a go (how much money has been taken so far?) Instead we get the usual stuff about a visible police presence, government reform and so on.

You have to wonder why anybody bothers to vote in Douglas East and elsewhere, given the standard of individual on the ballot paper, let us free it, a wannabe is not of high calibre, far from it.

That said, I will be voting (plumping!) for Clare Bettison who I regard as the only plausible candidate and I would urge other voters in Douglas East to do the same.

Neville Gill, Waverley Court, Douglas

The other candidates in Douglas East are: Quintin Gill, Richard Halsall, Jon Joughin, John McBride and Chris Robertshaw.

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