Chair of Castletown commissioner's Jamie Horton has said the local authority plans to make the town a better place for residents and visitors this year.

This comes off the back of what Mr Horton claims was a 'positive' year for the town in 2023, with his personal highlight being the pedestrianisation of the town square during the summer.

Mr Horton said: 'I think the highlight for the board has definitely been the the square closing to vehicles and opening up as an open space for the public.

'The comments that we’ve had over the summer and into the winter as well have been overwhelmingly positive and it’s something for us to work on in the coming years.

'The screening of the Women’s World Cup was phenomenal. The amount of people who lined up for that, it was great. And then coming into the winter, we did the Six Nations rugby too. Like I said, it’s something that we’ll look at making better next year.'

In November 2023, the local authority unanimously agreed to permanently pedestrianise Market Square.

The decision has now been put before the Department of Infrastructure (DoI), which has the final say on whether the scheme can go ahead.

It was costing the commissioners £150 to temporarily close the square for small, out of season events – money which the authority thinks could be spent on benefits for ratepayers.

When asked what stage the application was at, Mr Horton said: 'We’ve approached them and we’ve put in the necessary paperwork.

'The people that we’ve talked to at the department seem quite positive about it, but at the end of the day, they have not got back to us about it, and it is basically in their hands.

'They will make the final decision on whether we can close it permanently or not. If we don’t get the full 365 days closure of the square, we will be going ahead with getting the closure for the summer.

'We have the use of the Bushy’s big screen and obviously with Bushy’s pushing to open a brewery in Castletown as well, they go with each other. This is certainly helping us bring more people into the town.

'By using that big screen, we’re looking to put on more functions in the square, both through the summer and the winter.'

Mr Horton is also positive about the growing number of businesses and heritage sites in the town. He said: 'We have so many Manx National Heritage sites down here.

'We have the castle, but we also have the Nautical Museum and we have the Old Grammar School and the Old House of Keys. So we are what is essentially a tourist town.

'We want the square and the rest of the town to complement it, and we want to attract more people into the town which can only be good for the shops that we have.

'We’ve had interest and new businesses have approached us. Even though we’ve lost the butchers and we’ve lost the bakery, we have had other butchers and other bakeries approach us'.

At the end of November 2023, Barclays Bank announced that it would be closing its Castletown branch in the town square in February 2024.

This means the ancient capital will no longer have any banks or counter services, with the Lloyds Bank branch previously shutting in 2020. Talking about what will happen to the vacant space, Mr Horton said: 'The building actually belongs to Manx National Heritage and so we have approached them to tell them who has approached us and wants to go in there.

'It used to be an old market building, so it would be fantastic if they could turn it back into something like that. Now it’s up to them what they do with their building.'