Tynwald approval should be sought before changes are made to projects given parliamentary funding approval.
A report by the Public Accounts Committee says that spending money allocated to the Douglas Bay horse tramway on other parts of the Promenade reconstruction project ‘reflected poorly’ on a government department and the Council of Ministers.
In July 2017, Tynwald approved expenditure not exceeding £20,730,000 for works associated with the reconstruction of the highway from Peveril Square to Strathallan Crescent.
In the debate it was revealed that £5.2 to £5.5 million of this sum was allocated to works on the tramway.
But then in response to a Tynwald question in March 2021, then Infrastructure Minister Tim Baker said that works on the single-track to the Sea Terminal had been ‘de-scoped’ and that new funding would be requested.
In August this year, Chief Minister confirmed in an open letter to Garff MHK Daphne Caine MHK that authorisation of the de-scoping was a ‘collective decision’ made on April 30, 2020.
The PAC annual report, to be laid before the October sitting of Tynwald, concludes: ‘We believe that de-scoping something already approved by Tynwald, without seeking further approval from Tynwald, reflected poorly on the department and the Council of Ministers.’
It recommends that where specific scoping with associated funding is approved by Tynwald, Tynwald approval should be sought in advance of any proposed deviation away from that scope.
The report notes that one of this year’s Tynwald Day petitions related to the truncated tramway route being ‘unconstitutional’, while another referred to the enforcement of Tynwald resolutions. Both were found to be in order by the standing orders committee of Tynwald.
With the Promenade redevelopment project falling behind schedule, it was announced in June 2020 that elements of the scheme would be removed.
These included the southern section of the horse tramway with the line terminating instead at Broadway by March this year.
Work to continue the line across the road to the War Memorial and then on to the Sea Terminal as single track was not due to go ahead until after the general election.
Some £750,000 taken from the heritage rail budget had been earmarked for the extension.
In December 2021 Tynwald resolved that the PAC should undertake a full and detailed inquiry into the Liverpool landing stage project and publish a report by the end of January.
Costs of the project have ballooned, and it currently stands at £45m over the original budget, and the scheme is running three years behind schedule.
A vote for more funding has been delayed pending the PAC report.
But the committee’s annual report says it hadn’t been possible to meet this deadline due to the significant amount of written evidence requested
It says its report on the Liverpool landing stage is now in the final stages of drafting and the aim is to publish this before the adjourned debate on general reserve expenditure which is due to take place in November this year.