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What have local authorities ever done for us?

A map showing how local authorities would have looked, had a number of scheduled reforms taken place.

Commissioners respond on day elections were due to be held

In normal circumstances, today (23 April) would’ve witnessed the Manx public go to the polls to elect decision makers to the boards of more than twenty local authorities across the Island.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, these elections have been postponed until next year, with incumbent councillors and commissioners required to extend their terms and continue serving until April 2021.

It means a fundamental change in the number electoral wards and membership in Douglas has been paused, as well as the merger of Arbory and Rushen Commissioners. 

Board number reductions in Port St Mary and Port Erin have also been put on hold until 2021. 

Local authorities are responsible for a range of services, including public housing, waste management, recycling, street lighting as well as projects in the community. 

They fund these activities by levying ‘rates’, a tax based on property value, from domestic and commercial properties in their local areas. Authorities who administer public housing also receive rental income.

In the build up to what would’ve been the Local Authority General Election’s today (23 April), the Local Democracy Reporting Service sent a questionnaire to each board asking for their response to the following questions:

1.    What would your board consider to be the most important achievements of the authority since the last election in 2016?
2.    What concerns are most often expressed by parishioners? 
3.    What do you consider to be the most controversial decision taken by the board in the last four years?
4.    What would you consider to be the most important public event held in the parish?
5.    Has the board sought to work in collaboration with other authorities, and if so how, and to what benefit? 

You can find answers to these questions from each authority which responded, along with some information about each local authority, below:

Andreas

Population – 595 private homes
2020/2021 rates – 114 pence in the pound
Split of rates income – 94% domestic, 6% non-domestic

1.    Most important achievement is the refurbishment of  the Parish Hall (£36,000) and provision of new play equipment

2.    Concerns expressed by parishioners include roadway maintenance, potholes, transfer of functions, gulley maintenance etc

3.    The commissioners don’t believe they’ve made a controversial decision.

4.    Andreas Sports Day is the biggest public event. 

5.    Example of working with other boards includes collaboration on the Northern Parishes Refuse Collection, Elderly Housing, Northern Civic Amenity site.

Arbory

Population – 805 private homes
2020/2021 rate – 130 pence in the pound
Split of rates income – 80% domestic, 20% non-domestic

1. The board consider the three most important achievements of the authority to be the forthcoming merger with Rushen, use of social media and website to promote the work of the Commissioners and take on control of Knotweed in Colby River and maintenance of public rights of way "in the absence of central government fulfilling it’s responsibilities for these matters".

2. Traffic speeding through Ballabeg and Colby, unneighbourly behaviour such as leaving food in gardens for vermin and seagulls and general concerns about unsightly properties in the parish,and requests for improved recycling facilities are concerns raised most be parishioners.

3. When asked what the board considered to be its most controversial decision, the reply was "getting rid of the glow sticks as presents from Father Christmas!"

4.Laa Columb Killey held towards the end of June is considered the most important parish event. 

5. When asked about collaboration with other boards, the commissioners responded " we work very closely with Rushen Parish Commissioners and had asked to be included in discussions between Malew and Port Erin but this request was ignored. The Commissioners also work collaboratively with other authorities on the joint swimming pool board and the civic amenity site board, and have worked with Port St Mary Commissioners on consideration of access policies for the Parish Hall".
 

Ballaugh

Population – 442 private homes
2020/2021 rate – 120 pence in the pound
Split of rates income – 98% domestic, 2% non-domestic

1. The authority has introduced a new tender process to help provide best value for money for the ratepayers, it's taken a proactive approach to village maintenance, and says over the last two years 'we have been able to modernise the running of the Authority'.

2.Concerns raised by parishioners mostly relate to maintenance of roads, refuse collection/charges and parking issues.

3.The board claims there have been no controversial decisions.

4.Remembrance Day Parade and Service and Ballaugh Children’s Day (our annual sports and fun day which is in its 106th year) are considered some of the major events.

5.The board says it has not sought to work in collaboration with other authorities.

Braddan

Population – 1346 private homes
2020/2021 rate - 203 pence in the pound. 
Split of rates income – 40% domestic, 60% non-domestic

1. The board consider the sale of Cronkbourne Village to Arragon Jaguars Ltd in 2019 and the development of the 30 apartments at Mullen Doway as it’s replacement, the Shared Eastern Area Housing List and taking over the management of 37 Department of Infrastructure properties at Cronk Grianagh, and the continuation of Kerbside Recycling, together with the recent innovation of recycling trolleys to be some of its most important achievements.

2. Traffic and highway issues, hedge cutting (both for and against), and the outcome of the Area Plan for the East were issues of concerns raised most by ratepayers.

3. The sale of Cronkbourne Village,t he continuation of kerbside recycling, and moving all tenants onto five year fixed term tenancies, were considered to be the board's most controversial decision.

4.Braddan Parish Day and the annual Skate Jam at Cronk Grianagh Park are considered to be the most important local events.

5. When asked whether it has sought to work other local authorities, the board responded, "yes, with differing amounts of success, on housing, waste and street sweeping".

Bride

Population – 181 private homes
2020/2021 rate – 48 pence in the pound 
Split of rates income – 27% domestic, 73% non-domestic

1. The board consider approaching the next election with the current membership in place, after 'a rickety start to the 4 year term', as 'a great leap forward'. 

2.  Planning and dog fouling were listed as concerns most often expressed by parishioners.
 
3. The board consider the planning application for Glen Truan to be one of the most controversial issues it has engaged with as a local authority. 

4. Bride sports day is concerned one of the most important events in the village calendar. 

5. The board says it has sought to work with other authorities on a number of issues, including, waste, CA site, housing, swimming etc...

Castletown
Population – 1434 private homes
2020/2021 rate – 298 pence in the pound
Split of rates income – 83% domestic, 17% non-domestic

Douglas

Population – 11,592 private homes
2020/2021 rate – 444 pence in the pound
Split of rates income – 61% domestic, 39% non-domestic

1. The council consider these to be some of their most important achievements since 2016;

Continued investment in our community facilities (e.g splash zone, parks and play areas, green flags, toilets, CCTV, car parks, lighting schemes, library and relocation), investment in our Housing stock and new developments, keeping rates to below or around inflation, in spite of significant cost pressure impositions from Government, and increasing in the IOMLGSS funding position of pensions scheme to 89%.

2. Concerns most often expressed by ratepayers include, affordability of rates, cleanliness and upkeep of town/litter and housing matters.

3.The council considers some of it's most controversial decision to be the "relinquishing Douglas Horse Tram service and the reduction in number of members".

4. Most important events are considered to be Noble’s Park Fun Day, the Annual Council Meeting (Mayor making), the Civic Sunday, the Christmas Lights Ceremony, the Fireworks Display, the Remembrance Sunday, the Douglas Carnival and the Tower of Refuge Walk

5. The council says it has sought to work in collaboration with other authorities; it responded, "the council provide services in collaboration with other authorities such as Braddan and Santon and in the past Castletown. The council together with the Department of Infrastructure and Department for Enterprise have collaborated on the Promenade Improvement Scheme and other regeneration schemes;
•    The Eastern Local Authorities jointly oversee the running of the Eastern District Civic Amenity Site;
•    Joint surgeries with MHK’s;
•    Joint training /sharing of information and expertise;
•    Opening up of Library to all-island residents users free of charge and now fine free;
•    Chief Executives/Town Clerk Forum;
 

Garff (Laxey, Lonan, Maughold)

Population- 1,765 private homes
2020/2021 rate - Laxey 148 pence the pound, Lonan 129 pence in the pound, Maughold 131 pence in the pound
Split of rate income – 93% domestic, 7% non-domestic

1.  The board consider the Garff amalgamation, delivering two children’s play areas in Lonan, and facilitating the branding initiative and setting up the local business network to be some of their most important achievements.

2. Concerns most often expressed by parishioners include the Laxey Sea Defence scheme, the Laxey sewage treatment scheme,and the
Area plans for East, North and West

3. The board consider the Garff amalgamation itself to be it's most controversial decision.

4. Laxey Fair, Maugould Parish Day, Lonan Parish Day are considered to be some of the most important events in the parish. 

5.  The board has sought to work with other authorities through the Eastern joint housing waiting list.

German

Population – 417 private homes
2020/2021 rate – 91 pence in the pound
Split of rates income – 60% domestic, 40% non-domestic

1. Important achievements include keeping 'rates under control as far as possible.

2. Nothing mention on parishioners concerns.

3. The board don't feel they've taken a controversial decision.

4. Most important public event is considered to be Tynwald Day.

5. The authority has responded saying 'for many years the board has collaborated with other Authorities namely Housing, Civic Amenity Site, and Swimming pool.

Jurby

Population – 273 private homes
2020/2021 rate – 119 pence in the pound
Split of rates income – 71% domestic, 29% non-domestic

1.    Most important achievement is development of plans for a BMX track, but this is still to be agreed.

2.    Parishioners have expressed frustration over lack a of development, bus service changes, road drainage, and potholes.

3.    The board don't believe they've made any controversial decisions

4.    The festival of Jurby motorcycle event was consider important, but was cancelled for this year.

5.    Members consider Northern Parishes Refuse Collection, Elderly Housing, and the Northern Civic Amenity site to be example of collaborative board working.
 

Lezayre

Population – 510 private homes
2020/2021 rate – 92 pence in the pound
Split of rates income – 90% domestic, 10% non-domestic

Malew

Population – 959 private homes
2020/2021 rate – 199 pence in the pound
Split of rates income – 47% domestic, 53% non-domestic

Marown

Population – 863 private homes
2020/2021 rate – 164 pence in the pound
Split of rates income – 94% domestic, 6% non-domestic

Michael

Population – 659 private homes
2020/2021 rate – 142 pence in the pound
Split of rates income – 92% domestic, 8% non-domestic

1.   Achievements since the last election in 2016 include the completion talks and date for the New Road Design to go ahead in September 2020. The New Disabled Toilets. and the resurfacing of the Railway Line.

2. Parishioners express concerns about road safety in the village and speed that vehicles travel at, dog fouling, and coastal erosion.

3. Commissioners considered their most controversial decision to be the appeal against Bus Vannin parking buses in the Michael School on behalf of the community and wining the appeal which took 4 months to be decided on. 

4. The board consider the three public meetings with the residents and the Department of Infrastructure on road improvements to be some of the most important public events. 

5.  The Board already work together with NPRCB and are part of the Western Civic Amenity Site and Western Housing. The Board are also a member of the Municipal Association which is an insight to how other Authorities work.  Working with other Authorities is a benefit in costs etc. 
 

Onchan

Population – 3974 private homes
2020/2021 rate – 323 pence in the pound
Split of rates income – 87% domestic, 13% non-domestic

1.  The authority considers its three most important achievements since the last election in 2016 to be keeping rate changes below inflation, creating 8 new homes at Marion Road, and reorganising it's staffing structure.

2. Concerns most expressed by parishioners are the Eastern Area Plan, traffic management, and street light faults and costs.

3. The board considers not joining shared housing lists to be it's most controversial decision.

4. The 100th year Remeberance Sunday is consider the most important public event held in the last year, followed by the Civic Sunday.

5. The board works in collaboration with Port St Mary Commissioners, by carrying out their refuse collections, and sharing data protection services

Patrick

Population – 611 private homes
2020/2021 rate – 176 pence in the pound
Split of rates income – 89% domestic, 11% non-domestic

1.    The commissioners consider the new street lighting scheme in Higher Foxdale, the installation of defoliators at Dalby, Higher Foxdale and Patrick, cleared sod hedges on Patrick Road, and efforts to tackle spread of certain pernicious weeds such as Knotweed along the river Neb as their most important achievements.

2. Speeding and dog fouling are the two concerns raised most by parishioners.

3. The commissioners consider their opposition to a Peel Sewage Treatment Plant in Patrick as their most controversial decision.

4. The Royal Manx Show is consider the biggest public event in the parish.

5. Joint working at the Western Civic Amenity site, Westlands, the Western Swimming Pool are examples of collaborative working.
      
Peel

Population – 2295 private homes
2020/2021 rate – 257 pence in the pound
Split of rates income – 88% domestic, 12% non-domestic

1. The commissioners consider their three most important achievements to be retaining the existing town rate throughout the four year term without the need for an inflationary increase; managing the finances to allow the procurement of a large public playground in 2020 without the requirement to increase borrowing; and working closely with neighbouring authorities in the West to take forward for waste, sheltered housing operations and specifically the development of the Western Housing Authority initiative which is ready for implementation once agreement is obtained from the Department of Infrastructure.  

2. Conditions of highways and traffic/parking, sewerage and dog fouling are concerns most often expressed by parishioners.

3.   When asked what they considered their most controversial decision, the commissioners responded "seeking to determine the legal authority government used to remove of electors from the electoral registration which had a significant impact on a fifth of voters and the on local elected officials. This legislation has not been revised to date".

4. They consider Peel Day and Christmas light switch on to be some of the most important public events. 

5. When asked has the board sought to work in collaboration with other authorities, it responded "Yes see answer to question 1 and we are involved in the municipal association and officers from local authorities meet regularly on all the services we provide eg. Housing and Waste".
 

Port Erin

Population – 1611 private homes 
2020/2021 rate – 310 pence in the pound
Split of rates income – 90% domestic, 10% non-domestic

Port St Mary

Population- 881 private homes
2020/2021 rate – 348 pence in the pound
Split of rates income – 92% domestic, 8% non-domestic

1. Important achievements listed by the authority include 'the new climate friendly management of the green areas throughout the village to promote wildflowers and assist in enhancing the Islands biodiversity status', 'joining the Shared Southern Housing Waiting list, and the continued support and development of the Town Hall.

2. Concerns expressed most by parishioners include dog fouling, beach cleaning, and seagulls.

3. The board consider the reduction in board numbers to be the most controversial decision taken in the last four years.

4. The Mona's Queen III event on the 29th May each year (80th anniversary this year) is considered one of the most important public events.

5. On collaborative working, the authority writes 'we have members on joint boards and committees and work alongside Onchan regarding our refuse collection, previously also Port Erin'.  


Ramsey

Population – 3598 private homes
2020/2021 rate – 411 pence in the pound
Split of rates income – 80% domestic, 20% non-domestic

1. The board considers its most important achievements to be, the acquisition of Ramsey Courthouse, the increase in number and quality of events and attendance (e.g. carnival, lights switch on, fireworks, tractors run, Cyclefest, Ramsey Sprint, Sprintfest), and the collaboration with others including Northern parishes in management of the Civic Amenity Site and wider use of the Town Hall through introduction of Job Club and DHSC Benefits Office co-location (alongside Police Office, Coroner, Registry Service, Age Concern, Hospice Drop In)

2. The commissioners consider the "Marina proposals (or lack thereof), dog Mess, and 5G rollout" to be concerns most often raised by parishioners.

3. When asked what they considered to be their most controversial decision, commissioners responded  "Rate increases; First rate increases after utilising reserves for 5 years  (near 10% increase in 2019)"

4.The  Annual Firework Display is considered to be one of the most important public events. 

5.    When asked has the board sought to work in collaboration with other authorities, it responded: "Yes the Commission remains very open to collaboration and is willing to engage with government and other authorities and to take on additional responsibilities", and listed the following points;

•    Northern Civic Amenity Site Committee (highly successful operation) Committee working well together in running the site, 
•    Shared housing list run in conjunction with the Department of Infrastructure which has been very successful giving public sector housing tenants and applicants more area choice in the North of the Island
•    Transfer of  Mayfield site to RNDHC for nominal consideration facilitating the new sheltered housing complex to replace an out of date building and allow for its redevelopment
•    Collaboration with other parties to improve service delivery locally, including Age Concern for computer drop-ins, Job Centre and Benefits Office at the town hall which followed co-location of the police station and taking on of Registry Office delivery for the north.

However
•    An offer to meet with other northern collection authority to investigate joint or collaborative working wasn’t taken up by that authority.
•    The transfer of public sector houses from the DoI to RTC management has yet to be resolved although there has been some limited progress in recent months
•    Municipal Association “joint working”  there isn’t much evidence of this working

Rushen

Population – 651 private homes
2020/2021 rate – 130 pence in the pound 
Split of rates income – 94% domestic, 6% non-domestic

1.  The merger with Arbory, the Ballakilley recreational facility and the major tree planting scheme undertaken this year were considered to be the most important achievements.

2.    The closure or reuse area and the Southern Recycling Centre, dog fowling, and issues relating to bin collections were the three areas most discussed by parishioners.

3.  Not accepting Port Erin’s boundary extension application but instead fighting for the interests of Rushen rate payers is considered the most controversial decision.

4. The Rushen Parish fair as well as numerous public events held at Cregneash is considered one of the most important public events.

5. The Board has worked very closely with Arbory Parish Commissioners and of course will work closer following the merger. The Board also works closely with the southern authorities on the various boards and committees and has good working relations with all the southern authorities.

Santon

Population – 301 private homes
2020/2021 rate – 129 pence in the pound
Split of rates income – 76% domestic, 24% non-domestic

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