Volunteers or government officials could be parachuted in to make up numbers in local authorities where insufficient numbers of candidates have come forward for election.
Infrastructure Minister Phil Gawne said he was ‘disappointed but not surprised’ at the response to the call for candidates in this month’s local elections.
There will be eight contested elections in Castletown, Peel, Laxey ward in Garff, Patrick, Ramsey north ward, Port St Mary and two wards in Douglas - Hills and Victoria.
Others will see no election with candidates taking up seats unopposed. By-elections will be held in districts and wards where there is an insufficient number of candidates to fill the seat.
In Onchan five candidates stood for seven seats and so all five have been elected uncontested to serve as commissioners for the period from May 1 to April 30, 2020. Onchan will advertise for candidates in a by-election to fill the remaining two seats.
But in cases such as Ballaugh where only one candidate has come forward to stand, and in Marown where there has been only two, the Department of Infrastructure has the power under legislation from the 1970s to make an order to appoint people on a temporary basis to make up the numbers.
This power would apply where there are not sufficient members elected to make up a majority.
Mr Gawne said: ‘It’s a unique situation. We’re not aware of this happening before. We can make an order to make an appointment ensuring good governance until such time that they are replaced. These could be volunteers from the area or we could appoint officers.’
Clerk to Ballaugh, Jurby and Andreas John Quayle, however, said he thought the Minister was ‘jumping the gun’ - and people will come forward when they realised sitting commisioners were stepping down. Jurby is short by one candidate but Andreas’s five seats have all been filled uncontested.
Mr Gawne said the lack of candidates was ‘disappointing’ but added: ‘We’re in a transition period. In four years’ time people will see quite a difference in the role local authorities play.’ He said people have lost faith in the political system. ‘We’ve got to do something radical to change things. I’m so keen on getting local authorities reinvigorated.’ One problem may be that candidates are reluctant to come forward given the general election is only months away. Mr Gawne said: ‘We need to look at whether Keys elections should be every four years or local elections every five.’
Port St Mary goes to the polls on April 28 wih 10 candidates for nine seats. In Port Erin three empty seats remain after just six came forward.
There will be an election in Ramsey’s north ward with seven candidates for six seats but in south ward only five nominations were received for the six seats and a vacancy will be advertised in May.
The full list:
Andreas: Five candidates for five seats
Arbory: Five candidates for five seats
Ballaugh: One candidate for five seats
Braddan: Four candidates for five seats
Bride: Three candidates for five seats
Castletown: Nine candidates for seven seats – election required
Athol ward: Three candidates for three seats
Derby ward: Three candidates for three seats
Hills ward: Four candidates for three seats – election required
Murrays ward: Two candidates for three seats
St George’s ward: Three candidates for three seats
Victoria ward: Four candidates for three seats – election required
Laxey ward: Four candidates for three seats – election required
Lonan ward: One candidate for three seats
Maughold ward: Three candidates for three seats
German: Four candidates for five seats
Jurby: Four candidates for five seats
Lezayre: Four candidates for five seats
Malew: Four candidates for five seats
Marown: Two candidates for five seats
Michael: Seven candidates for seven seats
Onchan: Five candidates for seven seats
Patrick: Six candidates for five seats – election required
Peel: 12 candidates for seven seats – election required
Port Erin: Six candidates for nine seats
Port St Mary: 10 candidates for nine seats – election required
North ward: Seven candidates for six seats – election required
South ward: Five candidates for six seats
Rushen: Five candidates for five seats
Santon: Five candidates for five seats