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'Commissioners want to do more'

MHK quizzes Infrastructure Minister on local authority reform

Many local authorities on the Island want to take on more responsibilities, according to an MHK.

Ramsey member Lawrie Hooper believes progress in areas like housing management show commissioners are keen to run certain functions themselves.

The topic of local authority reform was raised in Tynwald last week, as Infrastructure Minister Ray Harmer outlined what progress had been made on the issue to date.

The minister accepted that a ‘softly, softly’ approach may not force the rate of change that some desire, but pointed to what he called ‘tangible successes’ in his strategy so far.

He made reference to shared housing waiting lists, the transfer of gully clearing and hedge cutting services, and joint working on waste management as positive moves for local authorities Island-wide.

Middle MHK Bill Shimmins asked Mr Harmer what he would do if some commissioners refused to follow these trends – to which the Infrastructure Minister replied ‘if ratepayers get frustrated, there will be a tipping point’.

Mr Hooper agrees there are some authorities that will hold out ‘to the bitter end’, but they'll eventually be outnumbered.

Local Democracy Reporter Ewan Gawne asked Mr Hooper if he was happy with the pace of reform.

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