Manx Independent letters: September 22, 2016

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Gaiety show was a total shambles

Being over on holiday, I decided to take my small granddaughter for her first theatre experience last Saturday, September 17.

I paid £65 for a box and she was excited and looking forward to seeing ‘Peter and The Wolf’ by the Theatrix ‘Company’.

So, what did we get? A shambles, narrated all the way through, no props, no backdrops, the ‘animals’ consisted of children with cheap latex gloves attached to their heads (chickens), some walking about with umbrellas (tortoises), ‘dancers’ with the most atrocious wigs, bumbling around the stage – Please!!

Oh, and the ‘wolf’ consisted of a very bored-looking girl wearing face paint and a black shirt and tie (suitable for only the most fashionable wolves, I suspect).

Now, I am certainly not decrying the efforts of the little ones, who did their best, but for goodness sake, if you are charging the public money to see a show, then put some effort into producing one!

This was more suited to a church hall, not the stage of the Gaiety Theatre.

Mrs Gibson, Solihull, West Midlands.

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Purple Helmets would be better

I am writing to say that I think the Gaiety Theatre should check out their acts before letting them loose on the stage.

I took my holidaying friends to see Peter and the Wolf. What a shambles it was. The ‘carnival of the animals’ was a young girl playing an old man, the dancers who were the animals came on with rubber gloves as chickens, then umbrellas as turtles, the wolf with face paint, a black shirt and striped tie. I think the ‘Purple Helmets’ would have done better, all this for £16 a head.

Get your act together, Gaiety Theatre.

John Bridson, Princess Road, Douglas.

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Dismayed to read about shop probe

I was extremely dismayed to read about the above ‘probe’ in the Examiner dated August 23. As a regular both in and out patient at Noble’s, I have benefited greatly from the service provided by the shop there. The staff are always helpful and kind and the stock has an amazing variety of goods available to buy. When it was first mooted that the present people might lose the franchise, I wrote to the hospital management to express my concern, but never received a reply, much to my surprise. I very much hope that the decision can be changed.

Eve Berridge, Crosby.

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Our optimum population

Population is not determined by opinion. It is determined by market forces. In the Californian Gold Rush, the population of California went up. In the mid-1980s, when coal mines were shut in northern England, the population went down.

Between 1880 and 1980 the optimum population of the Isle of Man, determined by market forces, varied between 55,000 and 65,000, averaging 60,000.

The concept that ‘increased population equals increased national wealth’ is totally outdated. At one time when government was not responsible for education, health care, social welfare or pensions, increased population did mean an increase in national wealth. In a modern society the increased national wealth of a nation is determined by the high net wealth-generating capacity of individuals.

A population where everyone is earning £50,000 per annum creates greater national wealth for government through increased income tax receipts and VAT through spending than a population on the minimum wage.

After 1980 the finance sector came to the Isle of Man.

In a very short period of time a lot of high net wealth-generating jobs were created, creating a much higher revenue stream for government and population increased. Over the past two years, for one reason or another, large areas of the financial sector have shut down and moved elsewhere which can be seen by the number of empty offices in Douglas.

The government has lost a lot of revenue but still has to pay to look after the population.

There has been a reduction in the standard of healthcare and education due to the financial constraints put on them by government.

To maintain the national wealth the government has embarked on a policy of trying to attract high net wealth-generating individuals to fill the gap left by the contracting financial sector.

My personal worry is this; whilst canvassing I have met many high net wealth-generating individuals who have said to me: ‘We came to the island 10 years ago because of the high standards of health and education.’

All that is now being eroded and they are leaving. So not only will we find it difficult to attract high net wealth-generating individuals, we are actually losing the ones that are here. This is due to government policy of not keeping our health and education sectors in the first division and instead wasting money on madcap unnecessary construction projects.

We are now competing with places like Scotland for these high net wealth-creating individuals. In Scotland the healthcare services are first division. This coming year they are opening five new healthcare facilities.

Waiting lists for hip replacements are 12 weeks in some cases while in the Isle of Man some people have to wait 12 months.

High net wealth-generating individuals usually want their children to attend university. Anyone who has sent their children to university knows the costs. There are no university tuition fees in Scotland.

In 2016/17 the Treasury will have used approximately £45 million of the island’s reserves to cover a shortfall between wealth generated by people on the Isle of Man and what it costs to look after people on the Isle of Man. That is why I have said in my policy statement that we must prioritise funds to maintain health and educations at a first division level. This will make our economy competitive with places like Scotland in attracting high net wealth-generating people.

We cannot keep borrowing from reserves. We have to balance the books. If we do not increase our revenue stream government spending will have to be cut and through market forces the population of the Isle of Man will go down, if it is not already doing so, perhaps to the level of 1980 at 60,000, who knows?

To repeat myself, the optimum population is not determined by people’s opinion. It is determined by market forces.

Leslie Hanson, Candidate for Glenfaba and Peel.

Editor’s note: The other candidates in Glenfaba and Peel are Geoffrey Boot and Ray Harmer.

Mr Hanson’s letter was written to explain his answer to our question in our election special last week, ‘What is the optimum population of the Isle of Man?’

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Do not ignore the demonstrators

I must thank Mr Jones of Peel Commissioners for highlighting the issue of committees that represent narrow bands of people but no great number in particular.

The turnout for elections to Peel Commissioners has often caused people to fill the role of public representative without what is called a popular mandate, not all the time, but on occasions.

The Peel Chamber of Trade has been inactive and unpopular among traders who it may claim to represent. Peel Heritage Trust is no different and cannot claim to represent any large number of people.

Mr Jones is right to talk about how these plans were drawn up for Market Place infrastructure and road schemes.

This is the biggest visual change to this area for nearly a century, the heart of the conservation area of Old Peel. There are guidelines issued by to help both public and private developers when carrying out changes in conservation areas.

Within this area there have been property developers when carrying out changes in conservation areas.

Within this area there have been property owners who have been refused planning for proposals to change windows and doors and in Castle Street, a short distance from the square, a property owner had to spend thousands of pounds realigning a roof height of a fisherman’s cottage to be in compliance with conservation requirements.

In regard to the changes that were proposed at Old St Peter’s Church, not once was the demolition word used or partial demolition. If this had been used in the planning application Mr Jones would have had his early advanced warning. As it was people were content to think that this area had protection due to it being in the heart of the conservation area with strict policies that have been applied to private property owners.

I join with Mr Jones in thanking Mrs Hannan for articulating the views of those who are opposed to parts of this plan (the demolition of part of the boundary wall of Old St Peter’s Church) and hope that in future due cognisance is taken by public bodies of property in their ownership, planning reappointing a conservation officer and at Old St Peter’s the gate and granite curb stones of the steps can be conserved. That is what we hope can be achieved by this protest.

Mr Jones has identified a problem with how this plan was progressed and I would like commissioners to find a solution to addressing the issue of the public being made aware of what is proposed for future regneration.

Peel Commissioners may be an elected group (at times) and a body corporate duty-bound to support good governing and process but they must never foget it is their duty to represent the people and I think everyone would join me in thanking them for the hours of unpaid work the commissioners carry out.

When more than 100 people of all ages meet to support a protest about an issue on a wet and windy day they must not be dismissed as a vocal minority or the protest thought of as an affront to the commissioners. It is not.

It is about the policy and that must not be ignored. A way forward must be found so that the public can be made aware of major proposals.

This should involve more information being made available in the area affected with signs and information boards.

When we talk about vocal minorities and ignoring the due process that has been carried out, my minds drifts to those groups such as the veteran associations, pensioners and the Manx Labour Party, who have been vocal in challenging th settled will of Tynwald in removing free TV licences for the over 75s and in fact it seems Treasury are now looking at the issue again and most candidates for office to the House of Keys are also supporting this protest.

Who would have thought bodies, pensioners, parties and candidates could be considered anarchists by protesting?

Stephen Moore, Demesne Road, Douglas.

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A witchhunt on Facebook

I read in the Manx Independent about John Houghton’s predicament with the Lamdens and popped on to Facebook to see what all the fuss was about.

I’m not ‘friends’ with any of them, in fact I’m not even on Facebook myself, a friend let me access their’s to have a look.

I don’t care who is supposedly right or wrong, I just felt sad that fully grown adults air their dirty laundry in a public arena.

Do the Lamdens get a warm glow from friends, family, acquaintances, hangers on and complete strangers cranking up the support for them and unpleasantness for Houghton? They’ve even uploaded the private and confidential letter John wrote them in good faith for goodness sake. No matter how ‘upstanding’ someone supposedly is, I lose respect for sanctimonious ways of behaving.

Is it really their job to ‘highlight the behaviour of a senior public figure’ and spend ‘many hours of research’ doing so? I love the internet but it has its dark side and this is perilously close to a witch hunt.

John Houghton was not sacked so let his department sort it out. Do we really want to go back to rolling perceived wrong doers down a hill in a barrel?

I have been bullied at work in the past but would never dream of publicising it in this way. That’s what your kitchen and the kettle is for! This smacks of revenge and no good comes of that.

Have some dignity.

Name and address supplied

Editor’s note: We’re not sure what our correspondent here means about letting his ‘department’ sort it out.

Mr Houghton was suspended from Tynwald after a committee found that he had bullied and lied.

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

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Appalled at this airline’s policy

I was booked on a flight from the Isle of Man to Blackpool with City Wing on Friday, September 18, at 6.10pm

On Thursday, September 17, I was taken ill and admitted into Noble’s Hospital. Thankfully I was discharged late Friday afternoon on the 18th.

As soon as I arrived home I telephoned City Wing head office at 4.30pm and explained the situation and requested a refund or a credit or as a last resort to be able to re-book for another date.

A very politically-correct customer service lady basically said no to all requests and then pointed out that I could only pay for a change of flight ticket with at least two hours before departure and she then pointed out that at this point in time it was one hour and 20 mins till departure so no I was too late and if I did not take the flight then it was was lost and was there anything else she could do to help me. Thanks, but NO THANKS.

In the circumstance I find that City Wing’s overall attitude with regards customer service in extraordinary circumstances to be very poor. I think in future I will use all endeavours to actually use the Steam Packet Company or FlyMaybe.

P Russell Vaughan, Sea Cliff Road, Onchan

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An issue for the new Garff MHKs

What Laxey wanted; what the Minister wanted and was given planning approval for; and what has been built – and demolished! Spot the difference!

By TT the Minister wanted a bridge – what Laxey got was a roller coaster ride that could take off the sump of your car or bike.

Levels didn’t appear to match up. Instead of a capacity of 2.8 times that the flat bridge was supposed to have over the old bridge, the capacity is now only 23 per cent or 1.23 times the capacity of the old bridge; less even than the 1.3 times of the design that Laxey wanted!

In terms of appearance, the polished black concrete structure surmounted by railings, now has grey steel girders, surmounted by concrete blocks; the railings like the lit up ‘breakwater towers’ have still to arrive.

But never fear – the latter are growing behind the palisades.

Remember they are going to be 13ft high above the bridge road level – or maybe more if the road level is lower than originally approved!

To cap it all the river bank on the north side has been ripped away, the riverside wall on Glen Road, outside of the site of the original planning application, totally demolished, again without planning permission in the conservation area.

A new wall is being built up on a concrete base – it’s amazing how light the stone looks compared to the original bridge stone to be reused in any works.

The feature of the old stone steps that gave access to the river bank seems destined to be buried.

Isn’t it time, before the ornamentation is finished, after the election and after the road has been reopened, of course, to demand an amended plan showing precisely what the bridge and its adjoining roadside walls are going to look like and giving the public a chance to have a say on its final appearance?

The relationship of what has been constructed to what was approved reflects the appalling state of the planning system when it comes to dealing with government’s own applications and applications in conservation areas.

At the other end of the village the Mines Tavern has been forced to submit applications retrospectively for the demolition of an external canopy structure and its replacement in a conservation area. How come the same procedure was not adopted for the bridge?

Whoever is elected in Garff should be pursuing these questions and demanding not only an amended plan but an inquiry as to how politicians and officers have constantly ignored and breached the planning system on several occasions with regard to Laxey Bridge.

An appropriately-designed bridge rather than a concrete bathtub supported by girders would not have taken any longer to construct.

Patricia Newton, South Cape, Laxey.

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Include your name & address

We welcome letters on any subject of interest in the Isle of Man.

However, we do need to know the author’s name, home address and telephone number so we can check details and verify the writer’s identity if we need to, even if you ask to remain anonymous in print.

Email opinions@newsiom.co.im or write to Letters, Isle of Man Newspapers,Peel Road, Douglas IM1 5ED

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