Petition forms have flooded into the offices at Isle of Man Newspapers as almost 200 island residents have so far voiced their support for our campaign against the new toilet tax.
The campaign, launched in last week’s Isle of Man Examiner (July 29), calls for changes to be made to the tax to make it fairer and better reflect people’s ability to pay the charge.
Last week Michael MHK Alfred Cannan, who voted against the charge in Tynwald in February but as chairman of the new Manx Utilities Authority is charged with collecting it, said proposals to change the system to make it fairer were about to be considered by the Council of Ministers.
When the tax was approved in Tynwald, MHKs, including the Chief Minister Allan Bell acknowledged the tax - a flat £50 charge imposed on each property with a mains sewerage connection - was crude and would benefit from a degree of fine tuning before the second round of payments when rates bills fall due again in summer 2015.
The extra tax prompted widespread dismay and loud objections from members of the public and Douglas West MHK Chris Thomas presented a 6,000-name petition to Tynwald on behalf of the protesters, many of whom threatened not to pay the tax at all.
The hasty implementation of the charge also gave rise to anomalies such as at the Westlands sheltered housing complex in Peel, where residents in the bungalows had to pay the full amount while those in the flats were charged a fraction of that.
The campaign is continuing so there is still time to fill in a coupon indicating your support as the Examiner has printed the petition again in this week’s paper, which is on sale now.
The Examiner’s editorial comment last week explained more about the petition.
We reproduce it here:
The Examiner is today calling on its readers to put an end to the unfair toilet tax.
The tax, which was really a simple flat charge, was levied at the same level on everyone, from millionaires to pensioners in council flats.
It was clearly unfair.
Even the Chief Minister said it was.
Nevertheless, it was rushed in and foisted on the Manx people with no real consultation.
We’re not naive enough to imagine that we won’t have to pay more taxes and charges to make the books balance after the VAT debacle.
But we do believe the changes must be fair to be accepted.
Utilities chairman Alfred Cannan MHK says his team is working on a better system.
We believe pressure from our army of readers will ensure that ministers will have to sit up and take notice of public opinion.
If they don’t, we’ll soon be paying £100 a household under the current plan.
A paper petition is more credible than an online one, since it means people aren’t just clicking or disabling cookies and voting many times.
Politicians will ignore our readers at their peril.