An open letter to Chris Pycroft (Douglas town centre manager), Chris Thomas (MHK and Infrastructure Minister) and other persons unknown to me but involved in the progression of the North Quay Pedestrianisation Scheme.
May I refer you to the recommendations made by David Christian (leader of Douglas Council) in August 2020 following a public meeting re the proposal to pedestrianise Douglas North Quay.
He said: ‘I’m of the view that it is a trial period. We should give it a chance.’
He said that, because it was going to be open during the working day, businesses and the church would not be badly hit.
He added: ‘If people go down and support the area, it will be a success. If people feel the quay is not where they want to be, that will be the end of it.’
But it wasn’t. Some of us have long memories....
On July 23, 2020, a public meeting was held in St Matthew’s Church regarding the proposal to pedestrianise Douglas North Quay.
Seventy-four individuals attended and the feedback was unanimous. 48.6% opposed the scheme; 45.9% were for amendments to the scheme and only 5.4% voted in support.
This result obviously did not go the way that Business Isle of Man wanted with the result that votes were ‘combined’ ie only one vote per organisation or household was counted.
The result was then 46.7% against; 46.7% for amendments and 6.7% in support.
This was, of course, a false reading of the actual result as the large representation from St Matthew’s Church, for example, should not have been counted as ‘one vote’.
There were individuals from the church affected in many ways by the road closure because;
They ran clubs and community groups from the halls.
They were disabled and needed the parking spaces on the quayside.
They maintained the gardens and needed access for their equipment.
They maintained the church They worshipped regularly.
(St Matthew’s Church has services during the weekdays, including Fridays)
How did the scheme go ahead? The result was read that those persons voting for amendments plus those in support were combined. A false reading of ‘all in favour’.
Fast forward to April 2023:
With only one week’s notice (pre Easter) a road closure was put in place stating that part of the North Quay was closed to vehicles from 11am on Friday until 8am Monday every weekend until September.
That’s a far longer period of time than previously. The reason given: for pedestrians to be able to enjoy the quayside.
Is the quayside buzzing with people? NO
(I regularly walk the area and watch the webcam to verify this)
Are there any parking spaces reserved in that area for the disabled? NO
Is there any consideration for the independent businesses on the quayside who rely on access for deliveries and for customer drop-off? NO
Are there any drop-off areas for the children, some very tiny, who take part in social activities in the church halls? NO
Does the quayside thrive more than previously? NO.
In fact, businesses there have closed since this scheme was introduced in 2020.
Look for the positives in this scheme and there are none – except perhaps for the few smokers who sit outside the large drinking establishment.
The quayside should be a shared space for all and not just, as it would seem, to promote drinking.
Without disabled parking spaces those who have worshipped at St Matthew’s Church for many years are unable now to worship there.
Their freedom of religion, under the Humans Rights Act of 1998, is the right to worship without undue interference. You are denying them this.
It has been said that there are not enough leisure activities for children and young people on the island but when volunteers try to spend their precious time investing in the youngsters via clubs, groups, dancing you go out of your way to discourage this with lack of access to the site.
The only encouragement is for drinking with its subsequent high cost to our health service.
A barrier, at a cost of about £11,000 (bill to the taxpayer) is said to be planned for closing the road on this an historic quayside.
Development of the Newson’s site was voted against by Douglas Council because they wanted to preserve the old buildings to ‘keep the look’ of the quayside. A barrier would not be in keeping with history.
Do not use your power and resources for self-interested gain but for the best interests of the people and their future. Become humble learners.
Name and address supplied
Editor’s note: The Newson’s site development was actually backed by Douglas Council. The planning committee (which is a government body) turned it down.
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