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‘Wild goose chase’ over Kirk Michael land swap, says Rodan

Michael School was at the centre of a controversial land swap deal. Michael MHK Alfred Cannan said if there had been more transparency in the first place many of the issues would never have arisen

Michael School was at the centre of a controversial land swap deal. Michael MHK Alfred Cannan said if there had been more transparency in the first place many of the issues would never have arisen

  • by John Turner
 

Tynwald should no longer give credence to any proposition made by Charles Buster Lewin, Tynwald members resolved during a sitting this week.

The proposition was one of two recommendations accepted from the select committee on the Michael School land exchange agreement.

It also recommended the Department of Education and Children publish the agreement and valuations provided by the government valuer during the negotiations as soon as possible as the land exchange agreement is of ‘historic interest only’.

Select committee chairman Steve Rodan said they had produced a second report to consider allegations made by former Heritage Homes employee Mr Lewin, imprisoned for his part in the Douglas East by-election fraud.

Mr Rodan said the report was to ‘tie up some loose ends’ following an email from Mr Lewin. ‘It is to the credit of this court that we took Mr Lewin’s concerns seriously and dug deeply,’ he said.

‘What have we learned? Virtually nothing. In the last debate one member described the email as a load of rubbish, but we needed to bring it to an end and have closure. The committee has not used quite those words but the member who said that was not far off the mark.’

Echoing the words of the report, Mr Rodan told Tynwald members they had found ‘each and every one’ of Mr Lewin’s allegations to be ‘completely unfounded’. He said the findings of the first report were endorsed by the second.

He added: ‘The second thing we learned was the capacity of Mr Lewin to create needless work. We were sent on a wild goose chase.’

The motion was seconded by Juan Turner MLC.

Michael MHK Alfred Cannan said if there had been more transparency in dealing with the matter in the first place many of the issues would never have arisen.

Eddie Teare, who was Education Minister at the time of the negotiations, thanked the committee for their work, ‘not because they have come down on my side of the fence but because of their work and because they have rebutted the allegations made. I hope we can now put the matter to bed.’

Several MHKs objected to the second recommendation precluding Mr Lewin from being given credence in future dealings with Tynwald. The report and recommendations were accepted by 25 votes to four with Peter Karran, Richard Ronan and Kate Beecroft dissenting.

The original land swap deal would have seen the Department of Education and Children convey part of Michael School’s playing field at Douglas Road Corner to the developer, giving the vehicle access to a proposed 95-house development.

In return, the school was to get an area of land at the back of the school.

Heritage Homes said it had secured alternative access via Lhergy Vreck, which prompted Eddie Teare to tell Tynwald it was a done deal and his department might as well take advantage and agree the land exchange. But Mr Lewin claimed the developer knew Lhergy Vreck was not an option due to issues over traffic safety and access rights.

The land swap never happened as planning for the houses was refused by the Council of Ministers after an inspector’s recommendation.

 

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