The four who want to become a commissioner in Port St Mary

Port St Mary Commissioners candidate Joyce Crook

Port St Mary Commissioners candidate Joyce Crook

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Four candidates are vying to fill the vacant seat at Port St Mary Commissioners.

They are Joyce Crook, Michelle Haywood, Samuel Rotchell and Ian Skelly.

Michelle Hayward

Michelle Hayward

The seat was vacated in July when Rebecca Sinfield stood down after it emerged her name was not on the electoral roll, a requirement of being a commissioner.

Votes can be cast at the town hall from 8am to 8pm on Thursday, October 22.

Joyce Crook says she wants to ‘reinvigorate the community spirit’ in the village.

She was born and raised in Port St Mary where she has lived all her life and attended local schools.

Ian Skelly

Ian Skelly

She is a founder member of the Children’s Concert Party, which will have its 40th anniversary this year and has kept hundreds of children entertained for many hours in rehearsals.

She is also a founder member of the Port St Mary Cabaret Party, which puts on performances twice a year.

She said: ‘In the past I have been disappointed in the decline in the community spirit within the port.’

Joyce promised that if elected she will ‘do my best to help with the regeneration of this beautiful village’.

Sam Rotchell

Sam Rotchell

A ‘sound financial basis’ to decisions is what Michelle Haywood said she will bring to the authority, if elected.

Michelle has lived in the village for nearly a decade. She runs scuba diving centre Discover Diving and is a founding member of Port St Mary Business Association, of which she has been chairman for four years; she also represents the village’s business interests on the South West Regeneration Committee.

She said she would ensure that the income from rates – which are one of the highest in the island – was ‘spent wisely’.

Michelle is a parent governor at Scoill Phurt le Moirrey, where she plays an active part in the Parents’, Teachers’ and Friends’ Association, of which she has been chairman for three years.

She managed the heritage trail in the village and would look at initiatives to make the village even more welcoming to visitors. She would also like to review the rules about dogs on the beach and suggested a new strategy of welcoming ‘considerate and careful dog owners’.

She is ‘passionate about recycling’ and has organised beach cleans in the area and ‘would like to help Port St Mary work towards a more sustainable future’. She is also a member of the advisory committee for the management of Bay ny Carrickey.

Sam Rotchell wants the community ‘to thrive’.

The 27-year-old has two young children with wife Sarah. He has lived in the village for seven years, but spent every summer there when growing up.

He works for a local Christian charity engaging primary and secondary schools, as well as many youth groups across the island. He is a governor for an island primary school, a safeguarding officer for a Manx swim team and sits on a variety of community-focused committees.

He said: ‘I am proud to live in Port St Mary and want our community to thrive so they [his children] can have the same pride when they grow up.

‘Through my experience in both youth and children’s work, as well as a parent, I represent a significant portion of residents and I’m keen to ensure our views are heard.’

Other objectives are: keep rates low and maintain services by sharing costs with other local authorities; raise the profile of the village across the island as a heritage and tourist attraction; empower young people to have their say in the running of their village; and encourage the community to use the beach by ensuring it is clean and safe.

Ian Skelly has lived in Port St Mary all his life and is the former manager of a successful fishing business, he now runs a small personal property portfolio.

He says he is committed to: the careful management of local authority finances; improvements to the port’s highways and pavements; more transparency; projects for local young people; closer scrutiny of the tendering process; enhanced support for local businesses and the encouragement of new growth and investment; cross pollination of ideas and services with other local authorities; a fairer rating system; and effective management of anti-social behaviour.

He warned of ‘more stealth taxes’ because of the island’s reduced income from the UK VAT agreement and said more services will come to local authorities. The authority ‘must maintain control of their own future and finances. Having more control is a good thing, but it must NOT be done purely as a cost saving exercise for Tynwald.’

Issues of concern are: the new development on the Underway (beneath the Bay Hotel); asset stripping (such as the sale of plots on the golf course or rifle club); and parking charges.

Local commissioners in the Isle of Man run the local authorities.

In Port St Mary there are nine members. Other authories manage with fewer. For example, Onchan, which is far bigger, has seven while Laxey has five.

Commissioners are not paid by the public, although some claim expenses.

The powers of the local authorities has been limited, although government is moving to devolve more responsibilities to them.

The current rate paid by Port St Mary households is 306p in the pound. That compares with 288p in Port Erin, 320p in Castletown, 402p in Douglas, 215p in Braddan and 290p in Onchan.

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