On Air After Hours Dave Moore | 10:00pm - Midnight

DOI comments after 'arts and therapy space' occupier left 'heartbroken'

Image Credit: Steve Babb, via Facebook

Work undertaken without permission, says Public Estates and Housing Team

The Department of Infrastructure has commented after the occupier of a building near Derbyhaven - intended to become an 'arts and therapy space' - said he was left 'heartbroken' by officers.

Photographer Steve Babb took to social media this week to explain how he'd been told the department was to 'pull the plug' on his project; a community space he says he's spent thousands of pounds on.

The video in question has been viewed more than 24 thousand times and attracted comments from some of the Island's MHKs promising to look into the situation.

In response, the Department of Infrastructure told Manx Radio: 'A property manager and two members of the commercial team from the Department of Infrastructure’s Public Estates and Housing team this week attended Ronaldsway Farm Buildings, a commercial property owned and managed by the Isle of Man Government near Derbyhaven.

'The meeting had been arranged with the occupier to discuss maintenance issue at the premises, including the condition of the windows. It was also regarded as an opportunity to discuss the lease, which was still not in place.

'Once inside, the following issues became clear to the officers present: signage had been ignored; access had been gained to areas of the building that had been deemed unsafe and therefore locked; work had been undertaken without consultation with the Department; and that this work required urgent inspection.

'The Public Estates and Housing team is now in the process of engaging with the occupier to arrange access to the building to inspect, certify and rectify, if required, works undertaken by the occupier.'

In an update posted since the original video was uploaded, Mr Babb says he's been overwhelmed by the amount of support from members of the public but believes his plans and efforts to be 'up in smoke':

Manx Radio has contacted Mr Babb for a response.

He says he's not in a position to formally comment yet, but has invited senior members of the Department of Infrastructure to see the project for themselves.

I'm asking Tim Crookall, Dawn Kinnish & Stu Peters as the Minister and Political Members for the Department, together with the Chief Officer Emily Curphey and anyone else they feel would help the process to come and meet with me at the Ronaldsway units to see for themselves what's been going on there. To see all the emails I have between myself and their department specifically outlining and agreeing the work their department is publicly accusing me of not consulting with them about, to discuss how this project has developed, where I'm hoping it can go and decide for themselves if a public war of words which will inevitable descend into legal action is the best course of events. If after that they decide the project should stop, then ok, that's their decision, it's their property after all. I completely understand the desire and need to support their teams. But, perhaps, they could save the taxpayer a lot of money and spend a short time finding out for themselves and make an informed decision and while still remaining loyal to their staff. I'm not asking you to bypass the process or criticise your own department, I'm not asking you to take my side, I'm not looking to start an argument. I'm simply asking you see all this for yourselves and then decide what you think the right course of action is for your department, no matter what that is. I hope you can see the benefit of committing just a little of your time to avoid a lot of time being spent by your department on this.

Posted by Steve Babb on Friday, May 24, 2024

More from Isle of Man News