Vindicated : Bell Discredited
At last, despite the unsuccessful efforts of certain bodies to derail the Mount Murray Inquiry with spurious legal actions, the first part has been published. It is available from the Tynwald Library (3rd floor Government Offices, Prospect Hill) cost 8.00 and it is surprising that the government's website has not mentioned its release, obviously preferring word of mouth to modern technology where important documents like this are concerned.
At 400 pages, it's not light reading but it is very important reading. The Commission chose to release a first volume since the concluding volume cannot be released until some ongoing legal cases have been settled. Since it was only released on the afternoon of Thursday 3rd July, 36 hours before this paper went to print, you'll have to forgive a rather brief treatment.
The last issue (27) of Yn Pabyr Seyr contained the following statement in relation to the Inquiry:
On the political side, Mr. Peter Karran MHK for Onchan, who was successful in having the Inquiry instituted, has since been subject to a campaign of harassment and vilification by certain other members of the government in the Isle of Man. This ultimately resulted in the Speaker of the House of Keys, Mr. Tony Brown, whose own involvement in the Mount Murray planning fiasco has not yet been fully uncovered, unilaterally preparing a "report" into Mr. Karran's asking of questions in the House of Keys. There continues to be conflicting interpretations of the findings of this report and it appears to be little more than a crude attempt at intimidating both Mr. Karran and any other non-establishment members of the Island's House of Keys from asking awkward questions.
Now to the report itself.
Page 53 para. 6.4 states:
He (Peter Karran MHK) made no direct allegation of corruption. What he said was that the the way in which government had conducted itself in Mount Murray matters created suspicions, the profoundest suspicions, that corruption had taken place. What he said was incorrectly translated by Mr. Brown SHK, into actual direct allegations of corruption, thus the Speaker said: "All he said and continued to say was, 'Corrupt practices by government and ministers,' and yet he never once explained or put to the House any evidence at all of what those corrupt practices were." This is really quite a serious misunderstanding of what Mr. Karran was saying. The Speaker continued to pursue these misunderstandings culminating, as it were, when he said: "So, we cannot ignore that a member of this honourable Court has stood up and said there has been corrupt practices." Mr. Karran had not said that.
Page 65 para. 6.12 states:
In a nutshell, what he (Mr. Karran) said was that events had been most bizarre, we don't know what did happen, but they were so bizarre that people even suspected corruption. Let us investigate all this in the interests of open, honest and competent Government.
The report states that there was no evidence of corruption in the sense of money, gifts or incentives, but we read on Page 248:
18.9 We therefore looked at at those who appeared to us to be closest to the executive actions in in the Mount Murray events. These were Mr. Spence acting for the developer, Mr. Mitchell an executive of the Department of Tourism, Mr. Savage Chief Executive of the Department of Local Government and the Environment, and Mr. Vannan Architect / Planning Officer whom, as we have seen, were directly involved in taking matters to Committee and in various correspondence.
18.10 We sought to trace Mr. Spence in order to take evidence from him but we were not able to contact him. As already explained, Mr. Mitchell was not able to give evidence because of ill health. We were, with the full co-operation of the late Mr. Savage's family, able to investigate his financial affairs. This satisfied us completely that there was no financial impropriety or corruption in that sense on the part of Mr. Savage. We are grateful to his family for their full co-operation on this matter.
18.11 We also sought to investigate the financial affairs of Mr. Vannan. This was much more difficult. Although Mr. Vannan purported to co-operate with the Commission on this matter he failed to respond to summonses and failed to co-operate with Chartered accountants whom the Commission had appointed to assist him, as well as the Commission, in providing relevant information to the Commission. As a consequence Mr. Vannan's failure to comply with the summonses was certified to the High Court for whatever action the court considered appropriate in all the circumstances.
Nonetheless, Messrs. Savage, Mitchell and Vannan (amongst several others) are subject to quite severe criticism. Unfortunately, Mr. Savage died some time ago and so there is no benefit of evidence from him.
The use of the term "pressure" is used several times to explain DLGE Officers acting improperly. Infact, it seems more that the Planning Department understood that the Department of Tourism wanted a favourable decision and, in the absence of any instructions to the contrary, the officers acted (against all proper practices) to facilitate the other Department's desire. The only time it appeared necessary to actually mislead anyone at planning level was when dealing with the Planning Committee, the membership of which was outside the inner political circle.
However, the person who receives the greatest criticism is Alan Bell MHK, now Treasury Minister, whose past record on tourism includes the failed bowling park at Nobles Park, the failed Bounty replica project and buying and importing hundreds of worn out tyres for the Jurby race track when we have difficulty disposing the ones we generate ourselves for free.
This to name but a few.
In defence of his actions contained in the appendix, he states:
"I do not claim to be above criticism, and fully accept that:-
(1) I developed a working relationship with Mr. Spence, the agent for the developer. In my opinion, however, this is neither unusual or improper in the Isle of Man....This close relationship between the Manx Government and the private sector has always been promoted as a very positive advantage enjoyed by the Isle of Man over other jurisdictions."
This bald admission of the positive cosiness between government and private enterprise in the Isle of Man demonstrates the problem we face: Our politicians simply aren't able to distinguish between proper and improper relationships, thus exposing the Manx people to serial abuse. Politicians don't even need to be bought.
Throughout the report, Mr. Bell consistently denies knowing that the proposal was for a permanent residential development. Consistently, in a report that gives great weight to the benefit of doubt and avoids any speculation on motivation, his denials are rejected. These denials were often issued under Oath.
And so back to Mr Brown SHK. The report states:
11.121 The Commission's overall perception of Mr. Brown's evidence is that, far from demonstrating that the system where a minister keeps his distance from planning applications is sensible, it highlights the serious flaws in such an approach.....The Commission's clear view is that he (Mr. Brown) took this detachment much further than any legal requirement demanded and consequently excluded himself from the business of the Planning Committee and the planning business of the Department for Local Government and the Environment although still undertaking responsibility for the planning system.
That never stopped him unilaterally overturning Planning Inspectors' decisions, however.
And finally, on page 272 para 20.12
We are of the view that the public owes a debt of gratitude to the Members of the House of Keys who sought a proper investigation on these matters, and to Tynwald for resolving that they should be appropriately investigated by a Commission of Inquiry. It will be significantly further in the public interest and of wide general benefit to the Island if government acts to implement our recommendations effectively.
Mec Vannin certainly appreciates the efforts of those who brought this matter to inquiry level and let's not forget those who would happily have seen it buried, not least of whom is the current Chief Minister, Richard Corkill. His tactic was to whinge about the cost of the inquiry. There is no price on truth and if we had anything approaching an open, transparent and honest government, it wouldn't cost so much to find answers to questions in the first place.
Mr. Bell is refusing to
leaves it upon Mr. Corkill to sack him, in the best interests of the
There is no housing crisis : Official
Just now and again over the past five years, an MHK or two has tentatively raised the issue that Manx people are increasingly being driven out of their own country because they can't afford housing.
When this has happened, the central administration has eagerly seized the opportunity to call for more houses to be built. The pressure to redesignate land for building is growing all the time and doesn't Dandara just love that!
As Mec Vannin has stated clearly on many occasions, building more houses simply accommodates more immigration. House prices continue to rise and will continue to rise.
The development frenzy is just what the Corkill administration wants, of course, and all the better if people who pull down earning and GDP statistics can be eliminated without resorting to anything messy such as gas chambers, bullets or base-ball bats.
As evidence of how much Mr. Corkill doesn't give a tuppeny damn for his own people, we reproduce for you the property paragraph from the government's internet site:
The construction industry has been swift to respond to the demands of a growing Island population and homes of all sizes, to suit most tastes, pockets and lifestyles, are available in a variety of locations. Potential buyers will find a comprehensive range of properties available on the Island including apartments, bungalows, traditional terraced, semi and detached houses and quaint country cottage retreats right up to large country and coastal properties.
The greater part of information on the site is slanted heavily towards attracting immigration from predominantly British passport holders and is keen to play down any negative aspects regarding immigration and permit laws etc.
Since immigration is the key
many social problems we face, the deliberate distortions by the
to further pump up the population whilst pointedly refusing to take any
effective action to alleviate the housing crisis amongst the Manx
is worse than incompetent, it smacks of deliberate intent.
Work Permit Committee without accountability
Earlier this year, the BBC were found not to be complying recently in relation to sending temporary workers to the Island to make news reports. This deficiency appears to have been corrected "on the nod" and Mec Vannin wrote to the Work Permits Committee to find out if the procedures had been properly observed (see below), particularly in light of the increasing number of multi-media journalists and students available in the Island.
In light of the recently publicised granting of work-permits to BBC staff, could you please tell us what steps were taken to ensure that suitable Manx workers were not available?
This was sent by e-mail and fully
but received no response. Likewise, a physical letter sent to the Work
Your e-mail of 10 April has been forwarded to me for response.
The Committee were made aware of your organisation's previous e-mail dated 19 February asking what steps were taken to ensure that suitable Manx workers were not available in light of their decision to approve work permits for BBC reporters.
The Committee, whilst noting your enquiry, nonetheless instructed the Secretary that the members did not consider it appropriate to enter into correspondence with any third party or external organisation in respect of specific applications for reasons of confidentiality.
However I am able to confirm that all applications submitted to the Committee are considered in accordance with the requirements of the relevant legislation.
No correspondence received via land-mail regarding work permit issues has come to my attention.
The Work Permit Committee have played the old "confidentiality" card, a sure sign that proper procedures have NOT been followed. Furthermore, in adopting such an attitude, it has effectively placed itself beyond scrutiny.
That is not a situation any of us
be willing to tolerate.
Mec Vannin AGM Resolutions
1.This AGM calls upon Tynwald to:
a) reform the Legislative Council
a popularly elected body.
2. This AGM:
a) reiterates the Party's total
to the "Defence contribution".
[4. This AGM endorses current government policy in relation to the "Pension Supplement".]
5. This AGM calls for a public inquiry into the government's dealings in relation to the acquisition of and subsequent dealing in the Nunnery property and Business School.
6. This AGM:
a) condemns the situation whereby the only independent recourse available to scrutinise government activities is the colonising power, to whit the UK.
b) calls upon this situation to be addressed by a genuine Freedom of Information Act and the ability to convene an independent inquiry body comprising international personnel without vested interest.
7. This AGM:
a) rejects the government policy of zero rate income tax as ultimately suicidal, both economically and in relation to achieving genuine independence.
b) calls for the fundamental VAT / income tax strategy to be overturned.
8. This AGM calls for the more transparent and equitable operation of the IoM Arts Council.
9. In light of the increasing possibility of mortgaged properties in negative equity and the Treasury Minister's frank admission that the finance sector is "hanging by a thread," this AGM calls upon the Isle of Man Government to provide support to vulnerable first-time buyers who may face financial ruin from a situation that is of the government's making.
11. This AGM
a) calls upon all MHKs and Civil
to be required to declare any gifts, favours or benefits in kind from
person or body that may benefit from favourable decisions within
and its departments.
13. This AGM calls upon the Department of Education:
a) to address the deficiency of
14. This AGM calls upon Tynwald to recognise the Manx language as an official language of the Isle of Man in Law.
15. This AGM
a) reminds all Departments of
Local Authorities, Boards of Government etc. of their obligation under
Tynwald Resolution to use, wherever practical, the Manx Language on
16. This AGM calls upon all Local Authorities to:
a) reject estate and road naming
not reflect our Celtic / Norse heritage.
17. This AGM reiterates the Party's views in relation to Local Authority restructuring as expressed in its submission to the "Time for Change" consultation exercise.
18. See next all
DLGE Waste Policy without credibility
Mec Vannin's 2003 AGM carried the following Resolution:
18. This AGM, recognising the principle of "polluter pays,":
a) calls upon the DLGE to provide economic and practical assistance to Local Authorities to implement recycling / composting programmes.
b) condemns the DLGE's waste strategy in relation to charging by weight as a "buck passing" excercise that will not, ultimately, reduce waste.
Early in 2003, the Isle of Man's Department of Local Government and the Environment announced a massive 100% increase in refuse disposal charges (per tonne) to be levied against the Local Authorities under its control.
There was no consultation with the Authorities prior to this and charges have risen with no period of grace to allow the Local Authorities to implement a strategy or policy for the equitable treatment of those who will ulimately pay: The ratepayers.
Several Authorities have already declared their intention to charge households by weight.
The Minister responsible, former Rushen MHK Pamela Crowe, was recently elevated to the Legislative Council where the electorate cannot touch her and, despite a claim that she would resign her Ministership if "elevated", remains firmly entrenched as the DLGE Minister.
Though claimed to be a policy to
refuse volume, the DLGE has not implemented any mechanism to facilitate
alternatives to mass dumping and (shortly) mass burn incineration.
Despite an intervention by
this year at least, that will subsidise domestic costs by 90% (making
Had the DLGE been acting intelligently and in accordance with its stated policy heirarchy of Reduce, Re-use, Recycle, Dispose, it would have implemented a central, more cost effective scheme.
This would include, as Mec vannin has stated several times during the past years, having Tynwald levy a packaging tax to reduce unnecessary packaging at source.
Central composting facilities or the financing of local facilities.
The establishemnt of paper recycling facilities producing (initially) low grade pulp for packaging.
Thermoplastic recycling plant to provide commercial granulated polythene for home use and export.
Lead/acid battery recycling to recover re-usable plastic and lead.
These are just a few of the initiatives available that have not been properly investiaged by the DLGE and the now "untouchable" Minister must carry the blame for that failiure.
End of Statement.
After this, an attempt by Keys speaker Tony Brown to have the matter readdressed failed and it is a poor reflection upon the Keys that his motion failed to even get discussed.
The most damning evidence of the incompetance involved, however, is the charge by weight policy. Whilst every other government in the world which is attempting to address the issue is aiming at reducing the problem of waste VOLUME, the DLGE under Mrs. Crowe has chosen to charge for the meaningless component of WEIGHT!
In other words, you can have 4-5
expanded polystyrene waste emptied for around the same cost that will
charged to someone who has a single bin full of compacted domestic
That is sheer stupidity.
Quotable Quotes: "Drinking Impairs judgement" Michael Moyle, High Bailiff
The Black Pages are Back! The internet site that the government wishes didn't exist is back at: www.manxman.com
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