Opinions on Onchan divided

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THE VIEWS of Onchan residents are being sought on the proposed boundary changes proposed recently by the Boundary commission.

The proposals, which would see the constituency split to create Onchan urban, with Onchan parish and Birch Hill forming part of a new East constituencey with Lonan and Laxey, have received mixed reactions from MHKs and commissioners.

Onchan deputy commissioners’ clerk Tim Craig said the proposals were being publicised around the area on notice boards and at the post office and they were going to set up a public meeting to assess the views of residents.

‘We want the public to look at them and we want to raise public awareness of this,’ he said.

The plan is for a public meeting then in early February to decide public opinion.

Commissioners’ chairman Robin Turton said they had not yet agreed a viewpoint but he personally had misgivings about the proposals.

‘The details are posted on noticeboards around the village and we hope people will make their views known to us by the time of our February meeting,’ he said.

‘We also have a meeting set up with MHKs and hope they too will have had a resonse from the public by then.

‘Personally I think this proposal rips out the heart of Onchan and I think the people of Birch Hill will feel put out. They are part of the village of Onchan and have good representation. I don’t think they will want to change so we are in for an interesting period.

‘The commissioners will be led by the views of the residents. I don’t know if we could challenge it legally if need be but our MHKs will be our first line of defence. I’m not against change but it has to be sympathetic.’

He added he could appreciate the intention but did not think it was to be achieved by taking a ‘huge swathe out of the centre of Onchan’.

Onchan MHK Peter Karran also said he favoured change in principle but did not feel the current proposal was appropriate.

‘I would be very disappointed to lose Onchan parish and most of Birch Hill polling areas,’ he said, but added he accepted the need for equality with everyone in the island having equal representation in Tynwald.

‘I personally think there should be six four-seat constituencies, but we lost that vote and we are where we are,’ he said.

‘ I think it will inflict major damage on my area but at the end of the day there should be equality of votes.’

Fellow Onchan MHK David Quirk said the proposals made no sense.

‘It is a good community that gels together and it does not take account of that.

‘I’m quite annoyed really about it. It doesn’t take account of things like the community and the schools,’ he said.

The proposed changes to Onchan would see a proposed East constituency which would take in Laxey and Lonan (from Garff) plus Onchan parish and most of Birch Hill.

In addition, Onchan Urban would be formed from the current Onchan constituency minus Onchan parish and the remainder of Birch Hill. This would see part of Onchan transferred to speaker Steve Rodan’s current constituency of Garff.

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