Manx Independent letters, April 25, 2013

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Why Sefton and not others?

So the government is bailing out the Sefton Group with a £4.5 million rescue package. Why this company and not others? The government not only has to be fair and even-handed in its dealings, it has to be seen to be fair and even-handed, and questions about this decision are bound to be raised. At the top of the list – why was this proposal not discussed in Tynwald?

I also have questions about the details of the deal. If the government is going to lend a private company £1.3 million, at a time when it is trying to save money, why is it not getting any money back for five years? What interest rate will this equate to? What are the terms and conditions? This seems extraordinarily generous.

The government is going to buy the Middlemarch site, which is seen as ‘a well placed site which could feature a range of leisure, retail and associated uses’ for £3.2 million. This seems like a lot of money for a relatively small piece of land – was is independently valued? Why is government leasing it back to the Sefton Group, which is struggling? Why was the lease not advertised on the open market? How much is the Sefton Group paying for the lease, and for how long? Not 999 years, I hope.

Let us have a full explanation, Chief Minister, please.

Tim Norton

Furman Road

Onchan

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A waste of taxpayers’ money

I read with interest and some dismay that the Isle of Man Government is to bail out the Sefton Group, a public listed company.

Surely, if it is still a viable business as the government presumably thinks, the directors should go to their shareholders and present their case for additional funding? It should not be partially nationalised, which would seem to be the case with this government bail-out.

I understand the government argument that to let the Sefton Group fail would be to jeopardise the tourist (?) and business trade, combined with further local job losses. Clearly I have sympathy with the group’s employees, but as with the directors of another partially nationalised business, RBS, surely the directors in charge are responsible for this mess. Effectively they have been bailed out.

As the managing director of a small local business with an ever-decreasing workforce and struggling to survive in this adverse economic climate, I imagine I speak for many employers and business owners who find the bail-out, at best, uncomfortable. A badly-run business, its debt hidden for years with irresponsible directors, has been rescued.

Whilst at times the Isle of Man Government can be praised for its proactive and flexible approach to business, supporting this bankrupt company seems misguided and a waste of taxpayers’ money.

Mary Mason

Managing Director

Abode

Wellington Street,

Douglas

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Amazed at prices on Steam Packet

Once again I am amazed at how much the Steam Packet can charge.

I booked a foot passenger fair for the middle of May this year and the cost was £36 return.

I tried to book one this week for a day trip next weekend and the cost could be £53.

My husband tried to book again this week for June 8 for a hospital appointment and the cost of a day crossing for that £83.50.

I know that one date is short notice and the other is at the end of the TT, but the variation of prices is beyond belief.

Surely there must be something this government can do to stop this going on?

Do they not understand that this must lose the island business when a company looks to open up here and bring staff with them? It’s not very helpful to those who live here either as in some cases such as my husband who needs to go over for hospital appointments it put him under a lot of stress as he does not have much notice to book too far ahead.

W. Samson

King Edward Road, Onchan

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Choose Manx or British meat

The recent horse meat scandal has made a lot of people think more about where the meat on their plate actually comes from – this of course can only be a good thing.

There are many countries which produce pork for example in the most appallingly cruel conditions. Sow stalls are a tiny cage in which pregnant sows cannot even turn around and have barely enough space to lie down and they are kept in this manner for several months. In 1999 the UK took the bold step of banning sow stalls for pigs due to the cruelty aspect.

Other countries however such as Southern Ireland, Denmark, France, Poland, Greece, Germany, Belgium and Portugal still use this most cruel (and actually illegal) method of keeping pigs.

I would urge everyone to choose Manx or British meat wherever possible as you can be sure of the source of the meat and feel confident that the animal should have been raised without unnecessary cruelty.

A Corlett, Douglas

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Photographers can do the job

Part of the procedure laid down for renewing a driving licence is to submit a recent photograph of the applicant, which must be endorsed as a true likeness by any of a variety of public figures.

I imagine most ordinary people have no contact with such public figures – who in any case I guess must get fed up with the chore, and who in any case have to rely to some extent on what they are told by the applicant.

Since most applicants will go to a photographer for their photograph, why can’t the photographer do the endorsing? After all, he or she has the most direct evidence possible of the identity of the image on the photograph, and it’s no hardship for him or her to ask for some proof of identity such as a passport or the previous driving licence.

Jim Hawkins

Bray Hill, Douglas

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We want to choose tenants

I have been watching the press and the internet with great interest regarding the Landlords and Tenant Bill. I am a landlord with one house and two very nice tenants which we have had for a number years.

But I fear that if the Bill goes ahead I will stop being a Landlord as I could not live with the threat of a £20,000 – yes TWENTY THOUSAND POUNDS – fine for a host of things. One of the fines will be imposed if you do not accept DHSS [now Department of Social Care, editor] tenants. Just read the adverts in the Courier you will see all the adverts say No DHSS. Private landlords do not want to be forced to have them as there is a bigger chance they will destroy our houses. I hope that the majority of MHKs will vote against such a unpopular Bill and common sense will prevail.

In the press Mr Robertshaw claimed that 11 landlords have joined the voluntary scheme out of the 7,000-plus landlords yet – last month I read it was 46. Is that a loss of 35 already or was there never 46 and if this was a good Bill wouldn’t it be 7,000 have joined and 11 have not.

You would think with such a minute take-up that even a fool would see how unpopular the Bill is with potentially horrendous problems for tenants after all the landlords have quit before making it compulsory and I challenge Mr Robertshaw to name the 11 landlords as I cannot imagine anyone would put their neck on the line to join such an ill thought-out scheme.

As I understand it, the Bill is to help government to manage the three or four per cent of bad landlords then penalise, threaten, outrage and alienate 96 or 97 per cent of good landlords.

It beggars belief that an MHK could think up something so unpopular and think he can get away with it. When there are ways and means of prosecuting landlords that blatantly break the law it is right and proper that they should get the book thrown at them.

Does the three or four per cent of bad landlords include the government and will Mr Robertshaw be liable for a £20,000 fine for all the bad houses that are government owned?

Some houses at Willaston are in a dreadful state and have been for years. How can they leave government houses in such a mess for so long without maintaining them and don’t tell me they are renovating them now. Sorry, it is too little too late. Do not penalise me, get your own house in order first Mr Robertshaw.

Mark my words there will be a lot of good landlords asking tenants to leave rather than acccept the Bill.,but I am sure there is a government plan to house all these tenants, pay their removal costs and assist landlords to claim the dole because of the loss of income.

Name and address supplied

Editor’s note: Houses in Willaston are managed and owned by Douglas Council, not the government.

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