We will not be bullied over tip charges, say councillors

Middle River Civic Amenity and Recycling site, Middle River Industrial Estate, Douglas

Middle River Civic Amenity and Recycling site, Middle River Industrial Estate, Douglas

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Douglas councillors say they won’t be bullied over the proposed introduction of a £70,000 annual rent for the Eastern District Civic Amenity site at Middle River.

The Department of Infrastructure has announced that it is withdrawing its subsidies for the island’s four civic amenity sites.

At the Middle River site in Douglas, the six local authorities in charge – Douglas, Onchan, Braddan, Laxey, Lonan and Santon – have been told they must pay a total of £70,000 for the rent from April this year.

At present, the authorities do not pay anything towards the rent.

But at a meeting of Douglas Council, councillors said they refused to be bullied into paying up without first seeing a copy of the proposed lease arrangements and licence.

Councillor Bill Malarkey, the council’s representative on the Eastern District Civic Amenity Site Joint Committee, said: ‘Make no mistake about it, I don’t think we should be bullied by them.’

He added: ‘If we can find an alternative, we will.’

Withdrawal of the rent subsidy would mean that Douglas council would pay £381,370 for the use of Middle River, a cost that Council leader David Christian described as ‘getting well and truly out of hand’.

Onchan would end up paying £108,840, Braddan £71,070, Laxey £17,040, Lonan £15,530 and Santon £10,450.

The joint committee received a letter from the DoI about the proposed changes in December.

But the department initially refused to provide a copy of the lease together with a draft licence, and a copy of the contract for the collection of TV and PC monitors.

Subsidy for the disposal of TV and PC monitors is also being phased out over two years from April.

Councillor Malarkey said that while he understood the reasons for the charges, the committee had ‘quite categorically’ turned down the department’s proposal as it was being asked to accept the rental charge without seeing a copy of the lease or licence.

Ritchie McNicholl (Murrays) said: ‘Why would anyone accept a £70,000 charge without seeing what’s behind it? The fact it’s being kept from us raises my suspicions.’

The DoI told the Manx Independent it has now agreed to share details of the proposed lease arrangements and the licence with the joint committee.

Mr Malarkey said a meeting was ‘imminent’ between the committee and department over the lease.

A DoI spokesman said: ‘Many of the waste services currently provided by local authorities are subsidised by government.

‘The department is progressively removing these subsidies. This is consistent with the government’s Waste Policy and Strategy 2012-2022 and the Scope of Government review.

‘The department is reviewing its indirect financial support of the island’s four civic amenity sites. All four sites receive different levels of support.

‘Two areas are currently being considered – support given in the form of discounted rent or lease payments and subsidies given for recycling.’

He added: ‘The department seeks to give local authorities advanced warning of potential subsidy changes so that they can plan accordingly.’

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