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Capital needs 'big picture' thinking - MHK

Castletown MHK Richard Ronan has called for the creation of a comprehensive master plan for Douglas town centre, in the latest political comment on the government's land-and-loan deal with the Sefton Group.

Mr Ronan has expressed dismay at what he describes as a 'hasty' decision to buy the Middlemarch site from the Sefton Group and lease it back as part of a £4.5 million support deal.

Mr Ronan says the Lord Street site is a well-screened location with good pedestrian and traffic access and was an option for a much-needed new car park and bus station - but that opportunity has been lost for five years.

In a statement reflecting on the Sefton assistance package, Mr Ronan says the affair's convinced him a comprehensive planning exercise is desperately needed to look at the needs of the capital for the next 20 years and beyond. He argues the needs of residents and local businesses should be factored-in before decisions to 'sterilise' key sites are made in isolation.

The Castletown MHK says as a campaigner for localism he broadly supports the Sefton deal because it will guarantee payment for a number of small Island companies which would otherwise struggle.

He concludes he's heartened to hear the Chief Minister agree more focus should be placed on the local economy and will be looking for evidence that happens in the coming months.

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