Manx Indepedent letters, November 27, 2014

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Unable to see inspectors’ report

Copy of letter to Kevin Gillespie, Ministerial Planning Advisor, Department of Infrastructure

Re: PA13/91289/B – 144 dwellings, Peel

Thank you for your letter of the November 20, a copy of which is attached for ease of reference.

Article 7 of the Town & Country Planning (Development Procedure) (No 2) Order 2013 provides– ‘7 Notice of decision (1) As soon as practicable after the determination of the application under article 6 the Department must give notice in writing of the decision to . . . .’

Your letter dated November 13 is that notice.

Article 7 makes no other provision as to when a notice is ‘issued’.

Your letter dated the November 13 states that: ‘Whilst a copy of the lanning Inspector’s report, upon which the Minister based his decision, has been copied to the Applicant/Appellant(s), all other parties may view visit http:www.gov.im/categories/planning-and-building-control/planning-development-control/latest-appeal-decisions/ to view the content.’

The fact remains that all other parties were not only not able to view the content of the Planning Inspector’s report on the day on which you said they could, i.e. November 13, they were, by your own admission, not able to view the contents of the Planning Inspector’s report until four days later.

That’s unacceptable.

Trevor Cowin, Poortown Road, Peel.

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Permits should cover all-island

The first Douglas residents parking permit meeting was a lively affair, an unfortunate result of an unchaired assembly.

A lot of energy was expended by those trying to get many personal, as well as generally valid points across, resulting in a loss of some hard facts and figures presented by the Department of Infrastructure officer.

What was evident, however, was that a £25 charge for a small number of Douglas residents, under 3,000, is completely disproportionate for parking out of 7,000 counted spaces in ‘commercial’ Douglas and an unknown number in the outskirts.

An administration cost of £34,000, even using the Minister’s figure of 3,808 residents permits, needs closer scrutiny allowing that staff are already employed, with two mailings at present deemed as necessary which I suggest leaves the printing contract to be examined.

The above £34,000 administration cost and £26,000 for enforcement were the only admitted figures near accurate and a proposed figure of £112,000 was mentioned for signage and lines. However, it was agreed that this had never been spent or available in the 18 years that the home zone scheme has existed.

One suggestion to come out of the meeting was to impose a universal parking charge, islandwide, via charging say £10 to purchase a parking disc which would be valid for one year and to apply to all car owners including those with temporary permits and visitors, these latter at perhaps a reduced rate.

Allied with this would be a scheme to mark out, islandwide, parking spaces regulated by time and day notices.

I certainly could go with that idea and would be content to pay a reasonable fee of say £10 in addition for a resident’s parking permit to allow me to park somewhere within the area that I live in.

It was pointed out that roads were intended to allow traffic to move and the provision of parking was not the purpose of roads.

Those present were encouraged to go away and then forward their thoughts and suggestions on how the department could alleviate it’s £4,000,000 budget shortfall to the Department of Infrastructure and to Chris Thomas MHK – I wonder how many will!

Ken Johnson, 2 Grosvenor Road, Douglas.

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Cinema could be community hub

Copy of letters to Adrian Brockhouse, Sefton Group

I am writing to you in complete exasperation regarding the operation of the Palace Cinema.

The Palace is potentially a vital source of revenue and regeneration in Douglas, but the way it is currently run is a disgrace to the Sefton Group and the Isle of Man.

Rather than creating a community hub that gives residents the opportunity to enjoy a rich culture of British and foreign cinema, this facility is sloppy, reliant on a singularly poor selection of films and operated by people who seem neither to know or care about cinema or their possible role in the community.

1. Film choices: clearly, the bargaining power of the Palace with film distributors is minimal when compared with huge multiplex chains. This means that you must deploy intelligent programming based on appealing to a range of different demographic groups. The cinema needs to model itself not on multiplexes but on well-operated art-house cinemas such as Brighton’s Duke of York picture house or the five cinemas listed in the Independent article that I have listed below, where between four and eight films are shown each week, rather than two films over a period of two or even four weeks.

2. Seasons and revivals: the Palace could offer birthday party screenings on a Saturday for children’s parties, a classics night or film club where every week or fortnight, great films that parents might wish their children to see on the big screen can be viewed, there might be themed seasons, e.g. a programme of Mike Nichols films, given that his name has recently been in the papers following his death. There could be screenings where you pair a film suitable for children to see in a supervised setting while their parents could see a film with say a 15 or 18 certificate.

3. Foreign films: art-house films, provided they are properly flagged up and advertised, could attract a significant audience here on the Isle of Man. The evidence of this are the sold-out showings of theatrical performances, ballets and operas at Ballakermeen: you certainly missed a trick in not securing a licence for showing NT Live or Met Live screenings. Another failure of imagination and entrepreneurship in the management of this flagship venue. Additionally, we see the success of subtitled drama on both Sky and the BBC. Audiences are ready and eager for foreign films at the Palace.

4. Provision of food and drink: the Palace should have a licence and should invite local food entrepreneurs to provide sandwiches, cakes and even hot meals: if you offered catering companies or any of the many people who make great cupcakes the opportunity to sell good quality food, you would automatically reach a far greater audience as their supporters would visit the cinema. Stop purveying cheap, noisy snacks. Supply fresh, high-quality salted popcorn, offer wine or good quality bottled beer. Additionally, the Palace is situated in a prime location where you could in the longer term set up a decent terrace with a café/bar facility where audiences might actually wish to meet and socialise both before and after screenings.

5. Building local ties: why doesn’t the Palace openly support the Isle of Man film festival and Mannin Shorts? Why did it have no role to play in Manx LitFest? By ignoring the cultural life of the island, the cinema is ignoring a source of audiences. Book more films, book speakers to introduce films, make an effort to market the cinema through avenues that would actually inform and attract an audience. You don’t even appear to have a Facebook page or Twitter account.

6. Staffing: the manager and box office staff have limited or no customer management skills and absolutely zero knowledge of or interest in cinema, as far as I can see from my brief interactions with them (emails and direct enquiries of box office staff to ask whether a film will be screened – the answer was ‘I dunno’). Appoint a team with a passion for cinema and some initiative about marketing the venue.

7. Effective booking system: the booking system is unwieldy and difficult to use and doesn’t even allow you to book more than a week in advance.

These are just a few of the simple things your organisation could do to turn the Palace Cinema into a vital, thriving operation that builds and sustains a substantial audience throughout the week rather than relying on occasional full houses for blockbuster films that are expensive in terms of distribution rights and not always guaranteed to raise decent revenue for the cinema.

Below are two links, one to the Independent article I mentioned above and one to a website that it took me, with no involvement in the cinema business, two seconds to Google.

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/features/dinner-in-a-movie-cinemagoers-can-get-now-get-a-threecourse-supper-brought-to-their-seats-6295417.html

http://www.independentcinemaoffice.org.uk/resources/how-to-start-a-local-cinema.

Zeba Clarke, 18 Woodbourne Road, Douglas.

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