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'Public buy-in was key to our merger' says Garff commissioner

Laxey, Lonan and Maughold parishes.

Dobson speaks as Arbory and Rushen mull over possible union

Public support is key to a successful merger, says a commissioner who played a role in the creation of the district of Garff in 2015.

Nigel Dobson was part of the Lonan board which agreed to join counterparts in Laxey and Maughold to form the new authority.

After the three initially agreed to work together on waste services, he says members soon realised there were cost savings to be had by combining.

The former Garff chairman says it was a lengthy process, but ratepayer support was the tipping point which convinced commissioners to make the change.

Laxey, Lonan and Maughold have retained their identities under the ward-system, as three representatives from each are chosen to sit on the Garff board.

Mr Dobson's comments come as the rural parishes of Arbory and Rushen are exploring the idea of creating a new authority, and are asking ratepayers for their views.

He explained to Local Democracy Reporter Ewan Gawne how Garff came into being:

The structure of local government has seen little change in the last century, but the formation of new authorities is not unheard of.

Almost thirty years before Garff formed in 2015, the parish district and village district of Onchan combined in 1986, a move that was followed by the rural and urban entities of Michael in 1989.

The need for twenty-two local authorities across the Island is a common criticism by some, who advocate for bigger entities.

Under the Quayle administration, reform has been focused around encouraging local authorities to work collaboratively to deliver services, such as housing and waste.

Infrastructure Minister Ray Harmer believes forcing change on councillors and commissioners is an ineffective strategy, and prefers encouraging cooperation.

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