Shortly before the Christmas break, on December 13th Tynwald voted on a series of measures put forward by the Department of Infrastructure in which a proposal strikingly similar to one rejected before the election in July was narrowly defeated. The aim of the proposal was to abandon and remove the horse tramway between the Sea Terminal in Douglas and the Gaiety Theatre. It is the expectation of those in power that the proposal will go through in a vote early in the New Year and that the scheme to get on with the promenade at any cost will be implemented.

Before the vote in which a number of MHK’s (who had declared to the Manx People before the election that they would support the survival of the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway running the full length of the Promenades), changed sides and voted against retention of the line IN FULL, the Department of Infrastructure sought to brief the members of Tynwald as to the proposal. No part of the written briefing related to a planning application lodged four days before the vote, i.e. on the 9th December, and therefore "live" by the time of the vote, to erect a substantial structure on the site of Derby Castle, described as “temporary” but involving costly engineering works of permanent appearance including inspection pits and a traverser to be a replacement horse tram depot and stables for the existing buildings.

In the context of Douglas Promenades this is to say the least a significant development and falls within the Douglas Promenades Conservation Area. The consequence of permitting such development would render the present car sheds redundant (no doubt a proposal for demolition and a further proposal for re-development will follow). The same for the charming, functional and ancient stables. MHKs do not understand the distinction between 'stables' (in good condition) and Tramway Terrace (less so). The former should be capable of instant re-use.

There does not appear to have been a word of debate on the subject because it was not revealed as part of the plan put forward by the Minister. It was the Elephant in the Room. The debate before Christmas appears to have been little more than a farce in which the Honourable Members were given only part of the picture.

Put another way they had no idea that Mr Harmer’s department’s real proposals (as he should have known by then as this was a planning application already lodged by his Department), taken together amounted to the following wholesale change to the Douglas Promenades;

1. Lifting the horse tramway between the Sea Terminal (i.e. the point where a large proportion of our visitors land and where cruise passengers land too) with the expectation that our visitors will enjoy the hardly unique foot slog down the Strand to get on a horse tram.

2. (Despite the fact that there is more than enough tram track to run down the full length of the Promenades; the suggestion that it is the cost of additional rail does not appear to be borne out; particularly for a single track line as proposed by Mr Cretney). Confining the horse trams to running along an over-engineered “light railway” between a new terminus at the Gaiety and Derby Castle as a novelty ride. No part of the original tramway infrastructure will be left. And this is being done in the pursuit of a "Pie in the Sky" light rail scheme that the Island will never be able to afford.

3. Transforming the area around the Gaiety into a so called “Cultural Quarter” of yet more granite paving.

4. (The hidden agenda) Constructing a utilitarian steel box on the basis it is “temporary” when it is not temporary at all in real terms, thus depriving the Island of the benefit and value of a key development site on Douglas Promenade and replacing it with an eyesore. That it may be regarded as an eyesore is already within the anticipation of the Department which suggests in its application that it can be screened by advertising hoardings.

Taken together this amounts to a scheme not only to the destruction of the horse tramway (not a trace of what we have now, tracks, depot, stables will be left), but for the wholesale destruction of Douglas Promenades as we know them to be, a unique and attractive doorstep to our Island as recognised by their designation as a Conservation Area.

The manner of the disclosure of the full picture amounts to manipulation, not just of public opinion but of members of our Parliament who were encouraged to vote without having seen the full picture. It is legitimate to ask who, precisely was behind this?

The horse upon which this scheme is riding is of course Mr Harmer’s no doubt honest intention to “get things done” and Tynwald has been encouraged to believe that if it votes to remove the horse tramway between the Sea Terminal and the Broadway it will be an easy matter to rip up the tracks and to “get things done”. This is not the case however since getting things done by removing the horse tramway will require planning permission, and not just the ordinary kind of planning permission since the whole of the Promenades including the Summerland site sits in the Douglas Promenades Conservation Area, and since there is already a decision on record from the Independent Planning Inspector to the effect that central to the Douglas Promenades Conservation Area is a double track horse tramway running from one end of the Promenades to the other.

It cannot be that the Department of Infrastructure does not know of the difficulties it will face in seeking to obtain planning permission to rip up one end of the horse tramway for good and to replace the other end with a “light railway” (Mr Harmer’s words), and to build a modern steel utilitarian structure at Derby Castle, since it was the Department that failed in it’s last application, prepared at enormous public expense, to move the horse tramway from the middle of the road to the footway.

There is therefore no instant route to "get things done” other than to maintain the status quo; any attempt to do otherwise will be fraught with the delay of a battle Royal of a planning battle and any subsequent litigation. Putting a bit of tarmac round the present tracks is the obvious, common sense, positive and cheap option to "get things done".In any event, it is imperative that members of Tynwald carefully consider the implications of the whole scheme in detail before throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

As the financial sector of the economy declines with the exclusion of the Isle of Man from access to European markets it becomes increasingly vital that knee-jerk, ill considered schemes are not let through on “the nod” to the prejudice of the possibilities of restoring tourism as an economic engine to save us all.



Mr Harmer is likely taking advice from officers within his Department of Infrastructure. The following is a reminder of some of the previous DoI schemes. Given the record of 'success' or otherwise of these - one could be forgiven for questioning the current proposals surrounding the Horse Tramway.

Much of the following is from the Isle of Man Today Website:

Isle of Man Infrastructure: the wasted decade

(2013) £400,000 wasted on “the Cabbage” a diesel locomotive which has never fulfilled its purpose as promised by the Director of Transport Mr Longworth whose original plan was to spend £750,000 on it.
07:00Wednesday 17 October 2012

"PLANS for a new diesel engine for the heritage railway are back on track - with an order placed with an American locomotive manufacturer. Delivery of the machine is expected in the spring.

Community Culture and Leisure Minister Graham Cregeen MHK said the price of the new engine was within Tynwald funding approval. Tynwald voted in July to approve funding of £350,000, on top of £50,000 already agreed, for a second hand diesel from Romania. But a late bid was submitted by an American manufacturer that offered a better deal. The original plan was to spend £750,000 on designing and building a new engine, a proposal which was heavily criticised and indeed overshadowed this year’s Budget. The order has been placed with Motive Power and Equipment Solutions, based in Greenville, South Carolina. Featuring a cab at both ends it will be capable of speeds of up to 40mph and will be powerful enough to recover rakes of stranded carriages in the event of a breakdown by one of the line’s historic steam locomotives.

Other duties will include shunting, maintenance and lineside firefighting operations. It will also be possible to use the new diesel for commuter services in future. Its frames and electric traction motors will be reconditioned second hand but it will have a brand new power unit and bodywork. Delivery of a new diesel will mean an extra steam locomotive does not have to kept on standby to recover broken down trains. Heritage railway bosses say the new loco will pay for itself in 13 years and help make savings of almost £40,000 a year. It is one of 25 similar machines being built by Motive Power and Equipment Solutions. But Peter Maddocks, engineering manager for Isle of Man Railways, said: ‘It is being built to bespoke requirements to run on our unusual 3ft gauge track. ‘It will have a cab at each end providing good forward visibility and meaning it can be operated by one person. Delivery is due in April next year. ‘The frames and the electric traction motors are remanufactured and indeed re-engineered."

‘The power unit and generator are all new. The balance between new and remanufactured parts is about the same as was the case for the Romanian locomotive, but we believe that this option offers a fundamentally better technical solution.’ Mr Cregeen said: ‘Expressions of interest were sent out but this one came in after the motion had been put on the Tynwald order paper. ‘We get an extended warranty on this engine which give us a lot more comfort than the Romanian one.’


IoM Today11:45Wednesday 14 October 2015

"The £417,571 diesel-electric was shipped to the island by its US manufacturer in December 2013. It was designed to recover broken down trains, operate the fire train, assist heavy trains up the bank at Douglas and to haul works and special trains including commuter services. Transport bosses claimed it would pay for itself in 13 years and help make savings of almost £40,000 a year. But the green machine was soon taken out of service with engine problems. A new engine had to be fitted, at the manufacturer’s own cost, but there were still teething troubles involving the air intake. It was finally declared ‘serviceable’ last July. Then in February this year, in scenes reminiscent of the Thomas the Tank Engine stories, a steam loco had to come to the rescue when the diesel broke down pulling a Valentine’s Massacre Murder Mystery train. Questioned about the machine’s reliability in the Keys the following month, Infrastructure Minister Phil Gawne said an apparent misfire was thought to be linked to a fuel injector problem and fuel contamination. Peter Karran (Lib Van, Onchan) described it as a ‘disastrous purchase’. ‘How many times has it broken down and they’ve had to get the steam train out to get it?’ he asked. Mr Longworth said the cause of the dirty fuel was unknown - but it was possible it had been done maliciously."

Read more at: http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/troublesome-loco-really-has-come-off-the-tracks-1-7512042

(2010) £125,000 on car park for Home of Rest for old horses only open for part of the year and not Saturdays.
13:14Saturday 17 July 2010

"IT'S a car park that would be the envy of many a popular tourist attraction. With room to hold up to 102 cars and five coaches, there will never be a problem finding a space at the new visitors' car park at the Home of Rest for Old Horses. But in Tynwald it emerged that it had cost taxpayers 125,051 to construct – and even the minister whose department is in charge of overseeing the project admitted it was too big. Bill Malarkey MHK (Douglas South) described the sum as 'staggering'– and pointed out that the Horses' Home was only open anyway weekdays from 10am to 4pm. 'We are hearing here today that, for the 3,200 metres we got from the Home of Rest, we have actually spent 125,000 on a car park. Who authorised this?' he asked, adding that Tynwald members were not structural engineers and did not see how many car parking places were going to be provided. Infrastructure Minister Phil Gawne replied: 'Unfortunately, the answer is that Tynwald Court is responsible for this amount of money being spent. We told Tynwald that's what we were going to do. Whether you like the scheme or not, that was what Tynwald voted for.' He admitted: 'Clearly, the car park is very, very big. It's possible they could fill it but I would think it highly unlikely. Yes, the car park is too big but it was what was designed. I'm afraid we have to live with it.' The car park was built as part of the 3m Richmond Hill road improvement scheme which also saw a new safer access built to the Horses' Home.


10:29Monday 26 July 2010

"THE new car park at the Home of Rest for Old Horses has taken up so much valuable grazing land that the charity cannot take in any more animals. There was outcry when it emerged in Tynwald this month that 125,000 has been spent on a car park which even the minister in charge admitted was too big. And now it has emerged that the chairman and directors of the Richmond Hill attraction are far from happy. Chairman Doreen Kinrade said: 'I'm very saddened by it because I think they've changed the whole character of the home. It used to be very rural and now it's too commercial looking. 'I know the old car park wasn't big enough but this is too big – we thought it was going to be half the size. We've lost grazing land.' The Home currently has 61 horses and nine donkeys but at the moment it can't take in any more because there isn't enough grazing land now that the new car park has been built. Mrs Kinrade said the home had to surrender land for the Richmond Hill road widening scheme and in exchange got a new car park and a safer entrance. But the car park, built on one of the better fields, ended up being bigger than agreed. An area that was supposed to have been used as a compound was never used as such and rather than reverting to grazing land as agreed it became part of the enlarged car park. A statement from the home's directors says: 'It is the home that has lost out. We have lost grazing as they have taken one of the better fields to turn into the new car park. This they have made far too big. 'It was not meant to be as big so that's more grazing we have lost. 'We are still waiting for an explanation as to why the car park ended up this big.' The old car park took 40 cars and was often full during busy periods. But the new car park has room for 102 cars and five coaches – and Infrastructure Minister Phil Gawne admitted in Tynwald that it was unlikely ever to be full as the home was only open weekdays. Manager Jill Moore said: 'We've seen two or three plans – they kept changing their minds.' Wheelchair access is now more awkward as there is a steep ramp to the stables from the new car park. 'We didn't think it was going to be so steep,' said Jill. The charity has had to spend 5,000 on new signs because the layout of the Home has changed with the car park being at the bottom rather than the top of the site. The Department of Infrastructure was supposed to have completed work by the end of May but it has still not finished. Mrs Kinrade said while the department claimed the old entrance was too dangerous there had never been any accidents. 'We have a safer access which will attract more people but at what cost to the home – and the taxpayer?"


(2014) Douglas Railway Station. Another example of over-engineered over-expensive development which was in part rejected by the planners. “If we do not act now…. (said the Department’s spokesman) ….the only option is to apply for demolition”. [Does this sound familiar?]

11:45Wednesday 10 September 2014

"The public subsidy for operating the island’s heritage railways is to be cut, iomtoday has learned. Director of public transport Ian Longworth said reducing taxpayers’ support to 50 per cent of running costs – a 15 per cent cut in the current £2.3m annual subsidy – will need to be achieved by generating new income and cutting costs.

The public subsidy for operating the island’s heritage railways is to be cut, iomtoday has learned. Director of public transport Ian Longworth said reducing taxpayers’ support to 50 per cent of running costs – a 15 per cent cut in the current £2.3m annual subsidy – will need to be achieved by generating new income and cutting costs. Campaign to save Manx railway stations ‘We will consider all the options,’ he said. Meanwhile, Infrastracture Minister Phil Gawne MHK has offered reassurances over the future of Douglas’s Victorian railway station – insisting he is ‘absolutely confident’ his department would never allow the registered building to be demolished. He was speaking as a new Facebook group entitled ‘Stop the Destruction of Douglas Railway Station’ was set up, attracting more than 2,400 likes so far. A Save Our Stations campaign has also been launched jointly by Isle of Man Steam Railway Supporters’ Association, the Manx Electric Railway Society and the Isle of Man Victorian Society calling on the public to contact their MHK and ‘Stop the Department of Infrastructure spending your money to ruin Manx heritage’. Both have been set up in response to last week’s Examiner article that reported on plans for a £1.4m scheme to secure the future of the building which the DoI says is in poor structural condition. The department spokesman warned in a written statement: ‘If we do not act now we will be faced with the building where the only option is to apply for demolition.’ Mr Gawne blamed ‘an unfortunate headline in the paper generated by an unfortunate throwaway line from my department’. He said: ‘We have never had a plan to demolish the railway station. ‘The building is in poor condition, caused by under-investment over many decades. A clear case has been made to me – if we don’t do something with it there is a risk it will become unsafe and it will have to be demolished. The department is responsible for protected buildings and I am absolutely confident that we would never allow a registered building to be demolished.’ Mr Longworth said: ‘It’s our wish to restore it. But we have to have a business case. We’ve got to make it viable.’ The railways run at a loss of about £2.3m a year, but it is estimated they contribute more than £11m a year to national income. Mr Gawne revealed the new policy to reduce the government subsidy to 50 per cent of overall running costs over the next two to three years was agreed at a departmental meeting last Thursday. "


Read more at: http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/douglas-railway-station-might-be-demolished-1-6816618

06:15Thursday 17 March 2016

Tynwald has overwhelmingly backed a £1.1m plan to stabilise and refurbish Douglas’s historic railway station. Infrastructure Minister Phil Gawne insisted the business case has been ‘very rigorously’ assessed by Treasury and the scheme would result in reduced costs and extra income. ‘This is not just spending £1m and never seeing any of the money again,’ he said. Mr Gawne described the registered station as the gateway to the ‘much-loved’ heritage steam railway which was an ‘iconic’ tourist attraction. But due to a lack of maintenance over many decades it is in poor condition with some areas ‘semi-derelict’. With no indoor toilets and catering facilities dating back to the 1980s, it no longer meets requirements, said Mr Gawne. The scheme aims to tackle subsidence and make the station more commercially viable. A shop will open on the ground floor while the restaurant and café will be moved to a new first-floor mezzanine. An al-fresco dining area with a glass canopy is planned for the rear. Work will take 36 weeks to complete. ‘When complete the building will once again be an asset we can be proud of,’ said Mr Gawne. Seconding the motion, John Houghton (Douglas North) said it was a long-awaited initiative. But David Quirk (Onchan) said there were greater priorities for funds and cited repairs needed to a Douglas school he had visited recently. ‘I do like the trains but this particular facility I feel is not something I can support.’


(2016) £473,000 on re-surfacing the Sloc. “The money had to be spent on something”.

14:00Thursday 21 April 2016

Infrastructure Minister Phil Gawne MHK has denied he approved a scheme to resurface the Sloc road just because it’s in his constituency. But Mr Gawne told a Tynwald scrutiny committee that there were plenty of other roads that had greater priority – and the only reason why the Sloc was chosen was because his department had underspent on its capital projects budget and it was a relatively simple scheme. The Minister was grilled about the £473,588 Sloc scheme as he gave evidence to the environment and infrastructure policy review committee. He said: ‘There have been allegations made, certain people have said “oh well the Minister has just done this because it’s in his constituency”. Well first of all, that’s not true - the Minister had nothing to do with it. I don’t get into that sort of detail - I believe that’s appropriate to leave that to the engineers. ‘But secondly, even if I was, if I had chosen to pick a road in my constituency and said “you must get that done” I can’t imagine that the Sloc would even come close to the top 10. There are loads of other roads that need to be done.’ He added: ‘The reason that the Sloc was done was because first of all we had an underspend in our capital programme so we had some spare money and we needed to spend it on something.’ The Minister said the Sloc scheme was ‘relatively simple’ as there were no kerbs, junctions or drains to deal with. He insisted it was value for money at £15 a square metre compared to most schemes that would be £30-plus. DoI chief executive Nick Black said planned work to the Sloc was brought forward due to delays in other capital schemes including Douglas promenades.

Read more at: http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/gawne-defends-473k-sloc-road-resurfacing-we-needed-to-spend-money-on-something-1-7866685

"Car park is biggest waste of taxpayers’ money"
10:21Thursday 21 July 2016

Government support of the Shaw’s Brow car park has cost the taxpayer well over £1m. Infrastructure Minister Phil Gawne described the contract with Douglas Council over the multi-storey as the ‘single largest waste of taxpayers’ money’ in his department. He was responding to a Tynwald question from Peter Karran, the outgoing LibVan MHK for Onchan, who had asked each Minister which was the biggest waste of money in their department over the past five years. Mr Gawne insisted the no department was deliberately setting out to waste taxpayers’ money. It was only possible to give a subjective answer to such a question as it involved a value judgement, he said. But he added: ‘That all said, in my judgment, the single largest waste of taxpayers’ money is on-going support for the Shaw’s Brow car park in Douglas. ‘The support is essentially a guarantee given by the former Department of Local Government and the Environment to Douglas Borough Council to make good any revenue losses arising from the operation of the car park. ‘The contract was poorly drafted, it has no break clauses nor an end date. To date, this agreement had cost the taxpayer well over £1m and is on-going.’ Mr Gawne said the council had successfully negotiated a very good support contract. He said his department has now negotiated a new contract with Douglas Council and, as a result of this, the annual cost is falling dramatically and is expected to cease entirely in due course.

Read more at: http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/car-park-is-biggest-waste-of-taxpayers-money-1-8025907

(2009) £4,000,000 roundabout for Quarterbridge cancelled. What were the costs
11:09Monday 22 May 2006

A GIANT roundabout could be built to ease traffic congestion at Quarter Bridge. The junction – used by 30,000 vehicles daily – is the 10th worst blackspot for accidents and a cause of daily rush hour hold-ups. Highway chiefs have commissioned traffic consultants to look at ways of tackling the peak-hour congestion. Network planning manager at the DoT Ken Ashcroft confirmed that one of the options being considered is to create a large roundabout with the Quarter Bridge pub at its centre. He declined to comment on the fate of the pub itself, which is earmarked for clousre, but said the line of the TT course would be retained. Mr Ashcroft said: 'This is in the very early preliminary stages but one option we are looking at is for a large roundabout which will eliminate the two mini-roundabouts. 'It will have the capacity to deal properly with the traffic flow at this junction. 'The TT circuit will be unchanged and when the road is closed for the races the rest of the roundabout will be open to traffic.'


11:42Tuesday 01 July 2008

"DESIGNS for a new Quarter Bridge roundabout scheme will be unveiled on Thursday. The Department of Transport plans to replace the two mini roundabouts with a large oval-shaped conventional roundabout. The scheme will mean the end of the TT landmark the Quartebridge pub and up to two years' work on the site, likely to cause motorists headaches at the strategic junction. Drawings of the proposals will be on display in the main foyer of the Sea Terminal from 3pm to 7pm on Thursday and from 10am until midday on Saturday with officers from the Department of Transport on hand to answer questions. Comments from the public on the proposed new roundabout will be welcomed and fully assessed by the Department prior to the submission for planning approval. Quarter Bridge is a strategic junction which serves traffic travelling to and from Douglas town centre from the south and west of the Island. In addition, it is used as a route by traffic travelling to the National Sports Centre, outer Douglas and Onchan. The present mini-roundabout layout was constructed in 1986 but is no longer able to accommodate the current volumes of traffic, particularly during peak hours when there is congestion and delays on most approaches. The Quarter Bridge junction has the highest frequency of recorded accidents in the Island. In the past five years, from 2003 to 2007, there were 20 accidents at the junction, mainly slight and damage only.

Subject to receiving planning approval, Treasury concurrence and Tynwald approval the 4,085,000 capital scheme is programmed to commence on site in 2010 with completion by 2012. The pub was bought by the Department of Local Government and the Environment from Heron and Brearley for 825,000 and leased back to the brewery. No date has been confirmed for its closure. The site has been mooted as the possible location for a new ambulance station."


09:09Tuesday 21 September 2010

PLANS to revamp the Quarter Bridge junction have been put on the backburner – because of disruption it would cause for motorists already facing rush hour delays due to other roadworks. Proposals to provide new pedestrian crossing points and widen the lane for traffic heading south from Douglas were due to have been unveiled at a media briefing on Wednesday lunchtime. But the event was cancelled the day before. Acting Infrastructure Minister Graham Cregeen MHK said he made the decision to pull the scheme as he was conscious of the delays already caused by roadworks underway at Colby, Ballasalla and Richmond Hill. And he admitted he remained to be convinced that the 98,000 scheme is needed in the current climate. If it did go ahead in future it may be in a different format, he said. 'It has to reviewed in the light of other schemes going through. We need to re-evaluate them. At the moment we don't need that scheme. With the amount of roadworks we have at present, we felt putting in another scheme was inappropriate.' Mr Cregeen also restated his objections to the Richmond Hill road improvement scheme which he voted against in Tynwald before he became a member of the Department of Infrastructure. 'My concern is exactly the same as it was then – that it is too big a scheme. I really don't think it was a necessary scheme,' he said. And Mr Cregeen, who is acting minister while the department's minister Phil Gawne MHK is in Kenya for a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference, is equally dismissive of a 4 million giant roundabout originally proposed for Quarter Bridge.

That plan to replace the two mini roundabouts at the junction with a large oval-shaped conventional roundabout was unveiled in 2008 but shelved the following year in the face of widespread criticism. 'It might still be an aspiration but while there are the current members of the department, it will never happen. That giant "square about" is one thing I will never support. With four lanes of traffic round the QB it would be like the queuing system at Disney,' said Mr Cregeen. Highways director Richard Pearson explained that the shelved 98,000 scheme for Quarterbridge would have involved replacing the old red and white barriers with proper crossing points for pedestrians. The left-hand lane for vehicles heading from Douglas and turning south would have been widened to improve traffic flow and safety and also stopped larger vehicles tracking over the verges. 'It would have enabled us to carry out essential maintenance work on the road, both for general traffic heading south and also for racing purposes on the other side. The lanes for general traffic are particularly badly rutted,' said Mr Pearson. He said the 98,000 cost was not an element in the decision to shelve it as it was already budgeted for in the Highways Improvement programme. Mr Pearson said the scheme had been timed so that the most severe stage of the work would have been carried out in the school holidays at the end of October. He denied that safety had been compromised for reasons of convenience to motorists, saying that pedestrians could still cross via gaps in the red and white barriers.

Read more at: http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/quarter-bridge-roads-scheme-shelved-at-the-11th-hour-1-2725792

(2011) £276,337 spent on Giant mini Roundabout at Ballakillowey “Gawne’s Folly”.
07:00Thursday 21 July 2011

"THE new roundabout at Ballakillowey, Rushen, cost £27,000 more than expected but is safer for motorists and pedestrians, the minister in charge of highways told Tynwald. Infrastructure Minister Phil Gawne defended the cost of the scheme in a written reply to a Tynwald question from fellow Rushen MHK Quintin Gill. Mr Gill asked about the total cost of the project and if he was content with the driving behaviour of motorists using the new roundabout. Mr Gawne explained that the cost of the scheme had originally been estimated at £249,000 but this had risen to a total cost of £276,337.66 due to time delays associated with statutory diversions, temporary fencing, amendments to boundary walls and laying the granite setts. The carriageway resurfacing and reconstruction cost £166,000, the diversion of ducts and cables cost £15,000 and the junction improvement works cost about £95,000. Mr Gawne said: ‘If the road had been rebuilt on a like-for-like basis, with the painted mini-roundabout reinstated, the costs would have been in the region of £170,000. ‘Therefore it is reasonable to say that the majority of the expenditure incurred was for the basic replacement of a worn out highway. ‘The maintenance project was enhanced to improve the layout of the junction to better take account of pedestrian movements, accommodate the swept path of larger vehicles whilst also slowing traffic to make the junction safer.

‘I accept that £276,000 is a lot of money, however in the context of highway schemes the sum is not large when compared with other typical highway maintenance and improvement schemes carried out in recent years around the island.’ He said his department had not received any reports of dangerous driving at the new roundabout. ‘Officers’ reports from on-site observations indicate that the approach speeds are much reduced and that the visibility is much improved on all four approaches. Whilst it is early days, they have initially concluded that the new layout appears to be safer for motorists and pedestrians."

Read more at: http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/ballakillowey-roundabout-is-safer-1-3597940

(2009) £10,000 wasted on the abortive Bendy Bus trial. This was done in circumstances in which the costs of making the routes safe for such operations would total millions.

11:45Monday 26 November 2012

A SECOND trial of bendy-buses will be held before any plans go to Tynwald – to see if any changes would be needed to accommodate them on Isle of Man roads. An Arriva bendy-bus from London was first trialled in the island back in 2009. That trial was deemed a success despite there being little support from the travelling public. Now the Department of Community Culture and Leisure has announced it is looking again at introducing the articulated buses following approval by the Council of Ministers. DCCL Minister Graham Cregeen MHK believes they could lead to significant savings. There would have to be a change in legislation to allow the use of longer vehicles on our roads before any bendy-buses can be ordered. DCCL chief executive officer Nick Black said a new trial would take place before any legislation is presented to Tynwald but that it was not thought any significant changes would be required to the road infrastructure to allow the bendy-buses to operate here. He said: ‘With regards to road infrastructure for articulated buses – the department has agreed that it will run another trial prior to the legislation being presented to Tynwald.

‘The department does not believe that any significant changes will be required but is working with the Department of Infrastructure to make sure that this is the case.’ Mr Black said that drivers do not currently require specific licences to drive articulated buses. ‘However, if the legislation is approved, we would be giving our drivers specialist training to prepare them for driving an articulated vehicle rather than a rigid one,’ he added. The DCCL is investigating the use of controversial articulated buses on a limited number of suitable routes. Minister Cregeen said that the department may have little alternative if it is to make budget savings and protect existing services. He said a second-hand articulated bus could be purchased for £40,000 and, for each one brought into service, two older double deckers could be sold, fetching between £20,000 to £25,000 each. However, bendy-buses have not found favour elsewhere. They were banished from the streets of the English capital by London Mayor Boris Johnson who branded them ‘cumbersome machines’. The DCCL is also considering acquiring minibuses to use on skipper services in areas of less frequent demand.

Read more at: http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/new-bendy-bus-trial-plan-1-5166798

£1m bill just to make one route safe for bendy buses

11:45Tuesday 12 November 2013

It would have cost £1 million to make just one route safe for bendy buses, the highways director has revealed. And the total cost to change lay-bys and bus stops around the island could have topped £3 million - even if such changes were to prove possible. It was confirmed last week that the Council of Ministers has rejected plans to introduce bendy buses on Manx roads after a report by an independent working party concluded the financial case did not stack up. Bus Vannin had claimed the articulated vehicles would have saved £300,000 a year in staff and fuel costs. But director of highways Richard Pearson said an assessment of one route - that from Douglas to Port St Mary - found it would have cost £604,000 to make it safe for bendy buses. The changes would mainly involve lengthening lay-bys to accommodate the 18m long buses. Mr Pearson said: ‘And that figures doesn’t include design and legal costs, land acquisition or diversion of utility services. We are probably looking at about £1 million on one route. We might be looking at a ballpark figure of £3 million for all routes.’ And he added: ‘It would not have been fully within our gift to deliver those improvements as locally there might be opposition to loss of land or car parking.’ Bus Vannin and the report’s author, TravelWatch chairman Brendan O’Friel, said the report showed there was no issues with safety. But Mr Pearson said he continues to have concerns about their safety on winding rural Manx roads - particularly given the number of standing passengers they can carry. He told the Examiner: ‘The advice we have given is that bendy buses are not suitable as they are out of scale for Manx roads and a number of problems could arise. ‘Bendy buses are 6 metres longer than a conventional single decker and have a pretty large turning circle. On some sections of road in order to negotiate a bend at 40mph it would need to be somewhat on the wrong side of the road and there is a potential for a head-on collision or for an on-coming vehicle to be forced off the road.’ Mr Pearson said another potential problem was the length of the overhang, which could risk a vehicle or pedestrian being crushed as the bus swings round a corner.

But he said he had particular concerns over the number of standing passengers allowed - with standing room only for up to 90 children on school runs. He said: ‘This is potentially quite a serious issue. If the driver has to perform an emergency stop or if there was a head-on collision we could expect a large number of casualties.’ The highways director said the risks were highlighted during the recent fatal accident involving a car and a single decker bus at the Ballakaighan Corner, Castletown. ‘If there had been 150 schoolchildren, many of them standing, we could have expected fairly serious injuries,’ he said. He pointed out in Wales seatbelts will be made compulsory on school buses next year.

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(2014) Over £1000,000 on rejected schemes for Douglas Promenades.

15:00Friday 31 July 2015
Gawne wants to go ahead with £19.3m Douglas Promenade scheme; Horse trams would still move to walkway


"The government wants to press ahead with its £19.3m plan to improve Douglas Promenade. The Minister of Infrastructure, Phil Gawne MHK, today outlined his views at a news conference.

He said the proposed design represents the best option to create an ‘enduring national asset that attracts people and supports investment’. It involves some extra crossings after representations from blind welfare campaigners and a wider walkway. He explained that a number of other options had been considered but discounted as they fell short of achieving the overall vision and objectives for an area described as the gateway to the Isle of Man. He maintains that as well as reconstructing the failing highway, the current scheme will strengthen the connection between the promenade and town centre and support government’s Agenda for Change priorities and the aspirations of the Central Douglas Masterplan. It will ‘act as a catalyst’ for the regeneration of the capital and ‘reflect the Isle of Man’s status as a leading international business centre, a tourist destination and a desirable place to live’. He says traffic flow will be improved and public safety enhanced by devoting additional space to pedestrians and making motorists more aware of their surroundings. Mr Gawne said: ‘I feel that now is the time to refocus on the overall vision - to create an enjoyable environment that will serve the best interests of our country, our economy and our people for the next 50 years.’ He added: ‘Capital investment to improve Douglas Promenade is urgently needed, as the road continues to deteriorate, with the surface becoming uneven, patched and badly cracked. ‘The structural integrity of the ground under the road has failed and if this is not addressed the highway will continue to subside, crack and break up, no matter how many sticking plasters are patched onto the surface. The road has reached the end of its life and any money spent on superficial repairs will be money wasted. ‘From an aesthetic viewpoint, the promenade has become tired, dated and some would say an aggressive and unfriendly environment. I am keen for us to recreate the sense of place the promenade once had.’"

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"Options considered and discounted by the design team are listed below. The costs shown in some of the proposals are for highway reconstruction only and do not include costs for the full scope of works featured in the department’s preferred scheme, such as improvements to footways, junctions, crossings and highway drainage. Ongoing patch and repair – This is not considered a realistic, practical or cost-effective long-term solution. The road would continue to deteriorate until it became unsafe to use. Surface dressing, chippings (basic cost £250,000) This treatment would last a maximum of two years and would not improve the ride quality of the road or prevent cracks from reappearing. In addition, the road would start to flood when it rained because the cracks that are currently acting as the highway drainage would be temporarily filled in. Surface dressing, micro-asphalt (basic cost £500,000) This technique involves laying a thin layer of polymer modified asphalt over the existing road surface. It would have a lifespan of up to five years, but would not resolve the underlying problems. Again, there would be surface flooding when it rained. Surface plane and inlay, excluding horse tram corridor (basic cost £1.3 million) This is considered a short-term option as it is literally paving over the cracks and would show signs of deterioration within two years. Again, the road would be prone to flooding because of the failed drainage system. Slab stabilisation plus plane and inlay (basic cost £3.2 million) – This involves injecting a foam compound into the ground to fill voids and stabilize the existing concrete slabs. The road would show signs of failure within five years. The slabs are starting to crumble and recent use of this technique elsewhere in the Island has shown poor results. Highway reconstruction, excluding horse tram corridor (basic construction cost £6.25 million) Reconstruction of the road only, excluding the area where the horse trams run, on a like-for-like basis. The new road would have to follow the profile of the existing horse tram tracks, so would remain undulating. This option would not enhance the promenade in any way and the footways, walkway and junctions would remain the same. Tram operations would be stopped for the duration of the scheme. The existing rail would have to be dug up and replaced within 20 years. Highway reconstruction, including horse tram corridor and re-using existing rails (basic construction cost £10.75 million) The rail would be destroyed when dug up from the road surface. Horse tram services would be suspended for the three- to five-year duration of the project. Road reconstruction, including horse tram corridor and installing new twin rails (basic construction cost £12.25 million) As with the previous option, horse tram services would be suspended for the duration of the project. The new tram corridor would have to be widened to meet modern safety standards and on-street parking on the Promenade would be significantly reduced as a consequence. The footways and walkway would remain unchanged and in a poor state of repair. Highway reconstruction, including horse tram corridor and installing a new single rail in the centre of the road with a passing loop (basic construction cost £10.25 million) This option was discounted because of safety concerns expressed by the horse tram operator, primarily vehicles driving towards and close to the horses. The footways and walkway would not be improved and the layout of the junctions would remain largely unchanged. Highway reconstruction, with single horse tram track on the seaward side of the road (basic construction cost £10.25 million) This layout would remove approximately 200 (37%) on-street parking spaces. The walkway would not be improved or refurbished. Highway reconstruction, without horse tram tracks (total construction cost £15.25 million) Ideally, this would require a redesign of the current plans to ensure the optimum layout is provided in the available space. This would result in a delay and is not likely to be supported by Douglas Council, which operates the horse tram service. There is a possibility that legal proceedings would be launched against the department and legislation would probably have to be changed before work could start. The department’s preferred option is: Highway reconstruction with junction and pedestrian crossing improvements, creation of Cultural Quarter and installation of a single horse tram track on the walkway (total construction cost £19.275 million) The department believes this option represents the best long-term value for money solution by helping to create an improved economic, cultural and social environment for us all. The department says it will put forward an ‘enhanced version’ of its original design after a series of meetings with local and UK blind welfare organisations. This included the minister completing a blindfolded walk with a guide dog across the promenade and around Lord Street. The improved design also widens the walkway by almost two metres in response to concerns raised by people campaigning on behalf of leisure users. The department will submit a revised planning application in August. Mr Gawne said: ‘The horse trams continue to spark a lot of debate, not just the proposed location of the tracks, but whether or not the service has a future. ‘The department believes the horse trams can be safely accommodated on the walkway, particularly given the additional space for leisure users provided in the improved plans. However, I am also aware that some Tynwald Members do not support the inclusion of the horse tram tracks as part of the overall scheme.’ He added: ‘The enhanced plans will include controlled pedestrian crossings at Granville Street, the bottom of Broadway and near to the Promenade T-shirts shop to assist blind and partially sighted people. The groups we have worked with have welcomed the opportunity to input into the scheme and are very supportive of the changes. ‘I hope people will now get behind the department’s efforts to create a promenade in our capital that we will all be proud of.’ There will be more on this story in Tuesday’s Isle of Man Examiner"


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(DATE) £182,290 wasted on Phase 2 of the Promenade Scheme designed and never built.

13:00Tuesday 01 July 2014

"Tynwald will be asked to spend £1.36million on the next phase of the redevelopment of Douglas Promenade in this month’s Tynwald. Members were today given a preview of the plan, which includes moving the horse tram tracks. The area affected will be Loch Promenade from the Bottleneck car park to Regent Street. The scheme is designed to build on the initial phase of work, from Peveril Square and the Victoria Street/promenade junction, which was undertaken at the beginning of the year and included moving the Jubilee Clock at the bottom of Victoria Street. Those changes, completed ahead of this year’s TT Festival, feature natural stone paving, new street furniture and the introduction of trees. Subject to approval being granted at the July sitting of Tynwald, Phase 2 will involve the reconstruction of the highway and footways, and improvements to highway drainage. The horse tram tracks will be removed from the centre of the road from Peveril Square to Regent Street. A dedicated corridor will be set aside on the seaward side of the carriageway in readiness for the construction of the new horse tram tracks. An area will also be allocated on the footway adjacent to the Bottleneck car park for the provision of a tram terminus and shelter.

If Tynwald Members give Phase 2 the go-ahead, it is intended that work will start in September, with a scheduled completion date in March 2015. A traffic management plan has been produced and the aim is to keep traffic flowing without the need for traffic signals or road closures – except for a limited period. Parking will be permitted on the walkway next to the Marine Gardens to compensate for the loss of on-street parking on the promenade during the construction period. This will operate on a similar basis to the Christmas parking, but will be subject to weather conditions. Infrastructure Minister Laurence Skelly MHK said: ‘The department is committed to delivering a high quality infrastructure that allows the Isle of Man to attract new investment and secure future economic growth. The promenade in Douglas is the gateway to the island and provides a first impression for visitors arriving at the Sea Terminal.’ He added: ‘As well as improving the visual appeal of the area, the scheme will enhance the ride quality of the road, improve drainage and set in motion plans to relocate the horse tram tracks to a safer location on the seaward side of the promenade. We hope this work will breathe new life into the area, support existing businesses and encourage more private sector investment.’ The total capital cost for Phase 2 is £1,362,000. The Department of Infrastructure’s highway services division will retain responsibility for the production and laying of asphalt concrete, lining works and the supply of natural stone paving materials and kerbs. About half of the labour and plant element of the work will be sub-contracted to the private sector. If Phase 2 is approved, plans will be progressed for Phase 3, which will focus on the refurbishment of the remainder of Douglas promenade from Regent Street to Strathallan. More on this story in Thursday’s Manx Independent. One of our reporters will be asking those in charge how we can afford such a scheme at a time when many services are being cut."

Read more at: http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/horse-tram-tracks-to-move-as-part-of-prom-redevelopment-1-6703558

£914,688 wasted when the trams down the promenade scheme was thrown out by a Planning Enquiry of which £381,937 was spent on what amounted to illegal tramline and walkway elements in the last item.

06:15 Saturday 30 July 2016

There’s been yet another U-turn over plans to redevelop Douglas promenades. The Department of Infrastructure has withdrawn its latest plan (16/00379) to reconstruct the roadway and footpaths along Loch and Harris promenades.


It follows a Tynwald debate last week in which the horse trams were given another two year reprieve. Under the proposal the tramline was to be truncated, running only from Strathallan to the Villa Marina. But members supported an amendment by Douglas South MHK Bill Malarkey that the full 1.6-mile route should be retained. The DoI’s planning application for Loch Promenade did not include tram tracks but left a corridor by the side of the road so that they could be reinstated in future. Following the withdrawal of this application, the department has confirmed it now intends to submit a new one that will include the tracks as part of the Loch Promenade redevelopment. Mr Malarkey welcomed the move: ‘I’m delighted that the planning application has been withdrawn and a new application will include provision of tramlines which is good news for everybody.’ This is not the first U-turn over the £21m promenades redevelopment. Indeed, more than £1m has been spent on rejected schemes.

Original plans for a single horse tram track with passing places to be placed on the seaward side of the road were withdrawn by Infrastructure Minister Phil Gawne in 2014 amid concerns from hoteliers about the loss of car parking. New plans were submitted for the line to be relocated on the promenade walkway but this was thrown out following a public inquiry. Hundreds had objected to the scheme. Also dropped was a controversial ‘shared space’ approach in which conventional crossings were to have been replaced with ‘courtesy crossings’ where cars and people had equal right of way. A fresh application was submitted in March, with no provision for the trams along Loch Promenade. Mr Gawne said the work would start in September. There have been scores of objections to the plans. Enthusiasts warned that truncating the line would be the death knell for the horse trams. If they don’t run to the Sea Terminal, fewer tourists will use them, it’s claimed. It also emerged that costs would spiral if the track was taken away and reinstated - rising from about £750,000 if they were provided from the Sea Terminal to the War Memorial as part of a promenade redevelopment to about £1.65m if were dug up and then relaid some years later on a corridor set aside for them. A spokesman for the DoI said: ‘The current planning application – to reconstruct the prom highway from the Sea Terminal to the Villa Marina Colonnade (with no provision for a tram track) – has been withdrawn. ‘In line with the recommendation approved by Tynwald last week, the Department of Infrastructure is now working up proposals for a promenade redevelopment scheme incorporating a new single tram track from Derby Castle to the Sea Terminal. ‘The location of track will be identified in any new planning application, but it is likely to be on the seaward side of the highway. In the meantime, basic highway works will be carried out on the prom highway in September to improve the ride quality for vehicles.’

In Tynwald last week, Mr Gawne insisted that the horse trams would be going on the roadway and not the walkway. He also ruled out keeping the line in the middle of the road, but as a single track, pointing out you can’t drive horses into on-coming traffic.

Read more at: http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/yet-another-u-turn-over-douglas-promenades-redevelopment-1-8041652

(2009) £37,000,000 wasted on a project to build a runway extension “designed to meet international guidelines which were supposed to become mandatory and apparently did not become so”.
11:46Monday 11 September 2006

"PLANS to extend the runway at Ronaldsway Airport into the sea will be submitted this week. The Department of Transport wants to push the runway more than 200 metres into the Irish Sea to meet new safety standards. Without an extension, the airport would have to shorten the existing runway to provide the required safety areas. This would dent the economy as it would reduce payloads for existing airlines and rule out bigger planes landing. A promontory out to sea would resolve the problem, the DoT says. It would be constructed by building a rock-armour bund or breakwater and infilling with sea-dredged material. The coastal footpath – a public right of way – would be re-routed around the edge. Full story in today's Isle of Man Examiner.

Read more at: http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/runway-extension-plans-imminent-1-1756741

14:48Wednesday 12 December 2007

NO aircraft currently used on regular schedule services out of Ronaldsway require the runway to be extended, Transport Minister David Anderson had confirmed. In a written reply to a Tynwald question from Peter Karran (LibVan, Onchan), Mr Anderson said the runway extension project was 'safety driven', the safety areas at both ends of the landing strip needing to be increased in length to comply with the latest international guidelines.

Read more at: http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/politics/current-aircraft-do-not-need-runway-extension-1-1768481

08:42Wednesday 28 February 2007

QUESTIONS about the planned Ronaldsway airport runway extension have been snubbed by a government minister. Transport Minister David Anderson declined to answer three questions tabled by Peter Karran (LibVan, Onchan) in the House of Keys on Tuesday. The lengthy queries asked Mr Anderson to expand on previous replies and explain why he had refused to answer an earlier question. They also called into question statements made about the project and the work already carried out by consultants. Speaker Steve Rodan said Mr Anderson did not wish to answer the questions because he did not believe it would be in the public interest. Under standing orders, Mr Anderson provided Mr Rodan with information to support his claim and Mr Rodan said he was satisfied with the minister's case.

Read more at: http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/runway-extension-questions-snubbed-1-1761065

23:25Tuesday 14 July 2009

BARGES carrying thousands of tonnes of massive boulders have been regular visitors to Derbyhaven Bay since April. The three barges are being towed 640 miles from Larvik on Norway's south coast with cargoes of rock armour for the Isle of Man Airport runway extension project. Despite delays caused by bad weather, the project is on budget and on schedule for completion in December, says Keith Bowman, contracts director for main contractor Balfour Beatty. Mr Bowman, who has been with the company for 25 years, said: 'It's the best project I've ever worked on — the location, the challenge and the sense of achievement. There's never a dull moment, it's never predictable.' The project involves extending the Ronaldsway airfield at either end to accommodate longer runway end safety areas (RESAs), designed to meet new recommended international safety standards. At the eastern end, this has meant building a 240-metre long promontory into the sea. Construction costs for the project total 37 million — the promontory costing 21 million and 16 million for the resurfacing and strengthening of the runway and taxiways. Work on the existing runway started in May last year and all the resurfacing was completed by September. Landscaping has now also been finished and the RESA at the Castletown end of the runway opened on July 2.

The scale of the promontory scheme itself is breathtaking, involving a quarter of a million tonnes of rock armour from Norway, a quarter of a million tonnes of rocks from Turkeyland and three quarters of a million tonnes of sand. The three barges from Norway — Larvik Rock, Armour Rock and Stemma Barge — can carry up to 25,000 tonnes of the rock. Once on shore, the giant boulders are manoeuvred into place by a 120-tonne Hitachi excavator modified to 150 tonnes. This beast dwarves the dumper trucks that are capable of carrying twice the payload of the largest wagon you will see on Manx roads and can be filled with just two bucket loads. Tests were carried out on 670-metre model in Oxfordshire to ensure the rock armour used in the project, which has a 60-year design life, can withstand a once in a 1000-year storm. In the end, 42-tonne rock was selected. 'It's never been used like this anywhere else in the world,' said Mr Bowman, who has unrivalled knowledge of the construction of such schemes, having recently been involved in a similar project to extend the runway at Sumburgh airport in Shetland which used the same sub-contractors and the same rock armour supplier. Like Ronaldsway, the RESAs at Sumburgh are 90m and 240m in length but both were built on promontories out to sea. In Shetland the tidal range is just two metres so the rock armour could be taken straight off the main barge onto shore. At Ronaldsway, however, the tidal range is seven metres, making this impossible. Instead, the rock has to be transferred onto a 2,000-tonne barge called Charlie and then ferried ashore via a ramp. Mr Bowman explained that, like Sumburgh, the 'footprint' of the promontory was first created by building fingers out into the sea using locally quarried stone from Turkeyland weighing up to 300 kg. Once the loop is closed, the contractors have to move fast to protect it with the imported rock armour. The first barge arrived on April 18 and 70 per cent of the armour is now in place. 'The job could only be done in the summer months,' said Mr Bowman. 'We are building to resist a winter storm. All the armour has to come from Norway — there is nowhere else in Europe that could produce the size we need. The biggest you can get in the Isle of Man is about three tonnes.' With the footprint of the promontory complete, the old runway lights gantry was demolished in a day. Throughout the project it was vital to keep the airport open and contractors have often had to work throughout the night to ensure there was no disruption to flights. But the main problem has been the unreliable Manx climate. Mr Bowman said: 'We've had some delays. When the water is too rough we can't put the ramp in from the little barge. 'But we are on programme and on budget. Until we've finished we can't say with any certainty that we will finish on schedule because we are subject to the weather. But once we get all the armour on shore that crosses off one of the risks.' He said that while the project was a challenge, many of the difficulties had already been encountered and successfully tackled in Shetland — reducing the risk of anything truly unexpected. Even the discovery of prehistoric remains was not unexpected given Ronaldsway's archaeological significance –– although no one could perhaps have anticipated the scale of their historical importance. Headlines were made around the world last year when two human skulls and the remains of a Bronze Age settlement dating back 3,500 years were unearthed within hours of work starting on the runway extension project. And then this year there was an even more dramatic discovery whose details have only just been made public — the remains of a Manx dwelling dating back an incredible 8,000 years. >> Prehistoric dwelling unearthed at Isle of Man Airport 13 July 2009 Mr Bowman said the discoveries had not affected the schedule and contractors had simply moved on to other parts of the project while the archaeologists completed the excavations. He pointed out that Sumburgh, too, was surrounded by sites of archaeological interst, including an Iron Age broch and village which borders the runway. Concerns about the environmental impact of the runway extension project were raised during the planning inquiry and Balfour Beatty have put measures in place at the site to safeguard the marine environment and ensure protected wildlife is not disturbed. Since the end of May there have been almost daily sightings of basking sharks in the bay and, during one 25 minute spell at the beginning of June, four Risso's dolphins, a basking shark and a grey seal were all spotted within a few hundred metres of each other. Balfour Beatty's environmental co-ordinator has been in contact with the Isle of Man Basking Shark Watch to keep them updated of all sightings.

Read more at: http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/airport-runway-extension-project-taking-shape-1-1793706

7:21Tuesday 27 April 2010

A BREAKDOWN in communication led to a very expensive mistake. That's the conclusion of a public accounts committee report into the foreign currency exchange debacle that added 2.2 million to the cost of the runway extension project. The report by the public spending watchdog was approved unanimously by Tynwald last week. Funding approval for the runway scheme had been given in April 2008 but the Euros to pay the contractors were not purchased until the autumn, adding 2.2 million to the cost. Committee chairman Clare Christian told the court that the scheme had still come within its 40 million budget but it could have cost 2.2 million less if the mistake had not been made. The report blames a breakdown in communication between Treasury officers as the main reason for the delay. Mrs Christian read out an email whose author believed had given the instruction to buy the Euros but whose recipient had read as an instruction only to look at options available. During the period, the department was under intense pressure because of the banking crisis, she said.

The report sets out a series of recommendations to improve Treasury procedures which Mrs Christian said had already been accepted by the department following a review. David Cannan MHK (Michael) said: 'It was a story of at best slackness and at worst incompetence.' Peter Karran MHK (Lib Vannin, Onchan) said he was saddened by the incident. 'Let's just hope we will see lessons learned,' he added. Brenda Cannell MHK (Douglas East) said she had been 'aghast' to hear evidence given by Treasury officials during the committee hearings. 'At times there was a rather slapdash way of doing things at Treasury. I was really quite mortified,' she said. Treasury Minister Anne Craine said she would report back to Tynwald by October on one of the report's recommendations that her department looks at holding reserve accounts in commonly-used foreign currencies. Among the other recommendations of the report is that there should be monthly documented meetings to monitor progress of capital projects.

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06:10Saturday 27 February 2016

There are no reasons why the runway extension would have to be closed, MHKs were told - and even if there were, easyJet Airbuses could still land at Ronaldsway. Prize for the most speculative question in the House of Keys so far this year went to Peter Karran (LibVan, Onchan) who asked whether easyJet Airbus aircraft will be able to fly to and from the Isle of Man in the event of the extension to the runway being closed. Infrastructure Minister Phil Gawne replied: ‘Although the department has no reason whatsoever to expect the loss of the use of the promontory in the future, easyJet Airbus aircraft were able to land at Ronaldsway prior to the airport runway project, so no interruption to service is expected.’ He explained that the runway project, carried out between 2008 and 2010, was designed to provide international and Civil Aviation Authority-recommended runway end safety areas and not as a general extension to lengthen the runway.

Read more at: http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/no-reason-to-close-runway-extension-mhks-are-told-1-7750186

IRIS Scheme which they continued to support despite the fact that costs rose from between £75 & £95 million in 2009 to £160 million in 2009
08:57Wednesday 18 December 2002

"NEARLY £13 million will be spent on constructing a sewage transmission main and pumping stations between Port Erin and Castletown as part of the IRIS sewerage scheme. Tynwald gave the thumbs up for the spending, with only Peter Karran (Lab, Onchan) voting against. Transport Minster John Shimmin said: 'The main aims of the scheme are to transfer sewage flows from Port Erin, Port St Mary, Colby and Ballabeg to the existing transmission main system in Castletown and then onwards to the Meary Veg sewage treatment plant and to carry out a complete reconstruction of the railway formation and track from Port Erin station to Castletown station to facilitate the laying of the transmission main. 'Once the contract works are complete it will result in the cessation of raw sewage into the bays at Port Erin and Port St Mary and the decommissioning of the existing Rushen sewage treatment works. 'The reconstruction of the railway track will ensure that the railway operates in a safe and efficient manner into the future and will provide operating speed improvements and offer a smoother more reliable service.' The scheme will start in January and finish at the end of March 2004. Ray Kniveton MLC, the DoT member responsible for the IRIS scheme, said in five years the entire project will be completed. He said this part of the scheme will see IRIS 'proceed to its 50 per cent completion mark covering 68 per cent or near enough of the Island's population'.

Mr Karran wasn't so enthusiastic, calling it a 'crazy project' adding: 'I believe the only people who are benefiting will be the consultants. 'They won't be around when the trouble starts,' he claimed. Bill Henderson (APG, Douglas North) said: 'I am deeply disappointed at the standard of work that has been carried out so far.

Read more at: http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/iris-plans-unveiled-1-1776754

07:02Tuesday 27 January 2015

Tynwald rejects call for new IRIS probe

Tynwald voted overwhelmingly to reject a call for further Public Accounts Committee investigation into the IRIS sewerage network project. The call was made to Liberal Vannin MHK Peter Karran who claimed plans to site a regional sewage plant in Peel would blight the area, lose valuable employment land and lead to contaminated liquid still being discharged into the bay. But Mr Karran was accused of a conflict of interest as a member of his party owns land next to the proposed sewage plant. Peel MHK and Education Minister Tim Crookall said: ‘Not once has he mentioned his colleague within the Lib Van party who has a parcel of land above where the Manx Utilities Authority are planning maybe to site the regional sewage plant.’ Graham Cregeen (Malew and Santon) challenged Mr Karran to confirm that his advisor had an interest in land or property near the proposed plant and claimed the Lib Van member’s parliamentary questions on the issue had cost the government a ‘huge amount of money month after month’. Mr Karran replied: ‘One of the main contributors has been one of the people who owns land in that area - but he’s known that from day one.’ He claimed that building a regional sewage plant would cost £6m more than linking Peel to the IRIS pipeline. Sludge would still have to be transferred by road tanker to the Meary Veg sewage works in Santon and treated liquid, which he maintained was contaminated by pathogens, would be discharged into the bay, jeopardising safe bathing waters.

‘It might be clean but it might not be safe,’ he said, adding that if the arguments for the regional sewage project were ‘water-tight, why so frightened for the Public Accounts Committee to investigate?’ He said the PAC was ‘honour bound’ to investigate. Lib Van leader Kate Beecroft (Douglas South) agreed. ‘We need the PAC to look at this,’ she said. MUA chairman Alfred Cannan dismissed the claims and said he wanted to ‘dispel some of the myths’.

He denied Mr Karran’s claims that the previous PAC report in 2010 had concluded there had been ‘catastrophic under-estimate’ of the sewage flow going to Meary Veg. ‘It’s working well and within capacity although the flow is higher than anticipated,’ he said. Mr Cannan said the MUA is currently in talks withe Peel Town Commissioners over the proposed regional plant and a full public consultation will follow. He said Mr Karran’s accusations about the plant creating a loss of employment and being a blight on the land were ‘without foundation. He said: ‘Peel will have clean water in terms of discharge. I very much hope that it will help the town develop rather than hinder,’ he said. The MUA chairman insisted that the authority had ‘adhered to value of money and achieved significant savings’ with the project costs of £25.9m being £14m less than originally envisaged. Treasury member Phil Braidwood MLC said it was like ‘groundhog day’. He pointed out Mr Karran had never been a supporter of IRIS. He said the significant savings in the cost of the regional sewage strategy project between 2011 and 2016 have been achieved by advances in technology and lower construction costs. Tynwald voted by 29 votes to two to reject the motion.

Read more at: http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/tynwald-rejects-call-for-new-iris-probe-1-7071135

(2015) Ramsey Plaza Transport Interchange. A multi-million pound plan rejected by the independent planning inspector (inter alia) because it was contrary to Transport Policy 3 of the Isle of Man Strategic Plan which includes provisions that new development should not compromise the attraction of rail routes as tourism and leisure facilities or their potential as public transport routes”. The scheme was found to be of “industrial character and utilitarian appearance" in this prominent location and that it would be “visual intrusive" and would cause "significant harm" to the character and appearance of the area. Additionally the proposal contravened zoning within the 1998 Ramsey Local Plan. It is interesting to note that it appears to be about to be resurrected.

(07.07.15) The Laxey tram crash which resulted from a revision of working practices by the Department who had installed a new crossover to “improve safety"

(2015) The collapse of Old Laxey Bridge. What was the Health and Safety assessment of running double decker buses over this ancient bridge? When had the Department last checked that it was safe? What was the cost of the bus.

(30.03.16) Snaefell tram crash. 1895 tram No 3. had been left unattended on a gradient at the top of Snaefell. Facts of the accident have been shrouded in secrecy but it is clear that anyone walking on Snaefell in the path of this priceless tram would have been killed. Worse still if it had not left the rails there was a real risk that it would have run into another tram car fully loaded with people.

(2016) Failure to control the dumping of poisons at the Raggatt and failure to foresee the leak of leachate into Peel Harbour and beyond.

06:10Saturday 02 July 2016

Read more at: http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/search-continues-for-solution-to-leachate-problem-1-7989644

Search continues for solution to leachate problem

"The dredging pipe, built to clear silt from Peel harbour, discharges into the bay Paul Speller 06:10Saturday 02 July 2016 10 HAVE YOUR SAY Pollution levels in leachate from the Raggatt Tip are too high for them to be discharged into the River Neb. But Environment Minister Richard Ronan said the rate of dilution in the sea meant it was less harmful to discharge directly into Peel bay. In the House of Keys on Tuesday, he was asked by Peter Karran (LibVannin, Onchan) what were the contaminants within leachate from the Raggatt Tip that had to be dumped into the bay via the sewage outfall pipe – instead of being discharged directly into the River Neb. Mr Ronan said: ‘Levels of a range of metals, ammonia, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) identified in the leachate draining from the Raggatt facility exceed relevant environmental quality standards and make it unsuitable for direct discharge to the River Neb. ‘PAHs are products of the degradation or burning of hydrocarbon fuels such as coal, oil and petrol. PCBs are a group of organic compounds used in the manufacture of plastics, as lubricants, protective coatings and dielectric fluids in transformers.’ Mr Karran demanded to know how the minister could justify the discharge of contaminants into a bathing area. Mr Ronan said it was down to the ‘hugely more effective diluting power of the sea’, which was recognised under the Water Pollution Act and meant that levels that would not be permitted in a river were permitted into the sea. But Ray Harmer (Peel) said it should not be discharged into the sea at all. He said an effective treatment plant was needed to remove the need for dumping the leachate in the sea. Mr Ronan said the possibility of using the Meary Veg treatment works to reduce PCB levels in the leachate was being investigated.

He agreed the present situation was not acceptable. ‘We are looking for a suitable and long-term and permanent solution to the problem of the leachate going into the water at Peel.’ Earlier this year, it was announced that funding was to be made available for the design stage of a new sewage treatment works to serve Peel. No figure has been confirmed for the overall cost of the scheme and Mr Karran asked Chief Minister Allan Bell if he would order the Manx Utilities Authority to publish the ‘whole life cost’ of the project. Mr Bell said Manx Utilities chairman Alf Cannan and Treasury Minister Eddie Teare had both already said the figure was not available. ‘The scheme for Peel sewage treatment works is still being planned and the comparison of current options and an assessment of capital and operating costs is under way,’ Mr Bell added. He said that Mr Cannan would brief all Tynwald members on the preferred options when the assessment process was complete."

Read more at: http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/search-continues-for-solution-to-leachate-problem-1-7989644

Peel Harbour.

Treasury rules were ‘ignored’ over project to dredge Peel harbour

11:45Wednesday 13 January 2016

"The project to dredge Peel harbour was ‘mishandled’ and government financial regulations were ‘almost completely ignored’. That’s the damning conclusion of a Public Accounts Committee investigation into the removal and disposal of thousands of tonnes of silt from the town’s marina last year. The work created quite a stink from neighbours of the site in Poortown which was chosen to temporarily store the potentially-contaminated silt. Emergency powers under the Public Health Act had been employed to dump the waste amid claims that the marina had faced imminent closure unless it was dredged. Questions were asked why the contracts for dredging and disposal did not go out to tender but the Department of Infrastructure always insisted that correct procedures were followed. MHKs were told the full cost of removing silt from Peel harbour was likely to be around £98,000. The PAC investigated the financial and procurement aspects of the operation and its report will go before next week’s Tynwald sitting. It concludes: ‘The relationship between the Department of Infrastructure and contractors may have been damaged as a result of the mishandling of the project to dredge Peel Harbour. ‘Financial regulations were almost completely ignored by the department, which made insufficient efforts to engage the assistance of the Treasury and no effort to engage the assistance of the Attorney General’s Chambers.’ The PAC concluded that by subdividing the dredging element of the project into three components allowed no part to exceed £100,000, which in turn enabled the chief executive to sign off the expenditure without reference to the Treasury. Dredging was procured at a cost close to £100,000 on the basis of a single quotation. The department approached one alternative contractor on the island, who declined to quote, but no attempts were then made to establish whether any other suppliers were potentially available either on or off the island. Mobilisation of dredging equipment was also procured on the basis of a single quotation but here there was a clear breach of Treasury rules as no waiver was signed despite the cost being in excess of £50,000. The PAC also founded that DoI had treated the construction and operation of the landfill site as separate tasks ‘in the interests of its own administrative convenience’. ‘The effect of this treatment was to circumvent financial thresholds,’ is concluded."

Read more at: http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/treasury-rules-were-ignored-over-project-to-dredge-peel-harbour-1-7670013

(2016) The use of steam locomotives without banking engines to haul dining trains causing firebox damage to all bar one of the serviceable locomotives.

(2016) Un-necessary closure of Foxdale Road.
15:15Wednesday 28 September 2016

Major Foxdale road project is delayed

"A major project scheduled to close Foxdale’s Main Road from Monday for up to eight months has been delayed until the end of October. A specific start date has not been released while the Department of Infrastructure waits to hear when materials will arrive in the island. We previously reported how planning approval had been received for the first part of the three-phase scheme in Foxdale. The initial phase focuses on improving the layout and geometry at Mines Road junction and will take six weeks to complete. The remaining two phases of the scheme will proceed on two fronts simultaneously: from the Mines Road junction heading south to Costain’s Yard; and from Dove Cottage working back up the road towards the Mines Road junction. The 550-metre section of road has been identified by road condition surveys as having a poor ride quality, low residual life and poor drainage. Trial trenches have shown that the road has only 40mm thickness of tarmac surface and no foundation. Access to the filling station and the pub will be maintained from Mines Road until the work reaches the forecourt entrance, at which time access will then switch to the northern end of the village from Lower Foxdale. It was revealed last week that the project will go-ahead without a relief road planned on the former railway line following 16 objections. Instead, traffic will flow towards the village from the Lhoobs Road, which will be one-way in a southerly direction. A DoI statement released this week said: ‘Work will take place at Mines Road junction to enhance visibility for motorists looking down the hill towards the village. ‘Planning approval has been received for the junction improvements and the retaining structures required for the work have been ordered. ‘The road will not now close until late October when the department has received confirmation of the delivery date for the materials.’ The statement continued: ‘The scheme, which is scheduled for completion before next year’s TT Festival, will provide a road that is capable of meeting traffic and drainage requirements throughout its design life of 40 years.’

Jim Davidson, project co-ordinator, said: ‘This change is great news for the village as it will create a much better junction for many years to come.’ "

Read more at: http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/major-foxdale-road-project-is-delayed-1-8152653

(2017) Un-necessary closure of Lazayre Road
06:10Tuesday 22 November 2016
Would UK contractor do road job quicker?

"An MHK says a major road scheme should be tendered to a UK contractor to get the project done quicker. The £800,000 project to reconstruct Lezayre Road and install new drainage had been scheduled to begin on September 26 and take 18 months to complete. But it was postponed at the last minute until next year, after it emerged that there was insufficient space to operate the site safely. In Tynwald, new MHK for Ramsey Dr Alex Allinson asked Infrastructure Minister Ray Harmer to consider tendering the Lezayre Road project and getting expressions of interest from firms across. He asked: ‘This is an £800,000 project for 1,100 metres of road, which is expected to last 18 months. Could he consider tendering this to firms with the equipment and experience of laying large tracks of road quickly and effectively, to minimise disruption and economic losses to the island’s economy, and particularly in Ramsey?’ Mr Harmer replied government policy is to use on-island contractors to support the local economy. He said work permit restrictions might deter UK contractors from tendering - and some in local contractors may well object to a UK company being drafted in. He added: ‘Regarding Lezayre Road, I am willing to look and come back to see if there is any way we can compact and construct that in the shortest timeframe possible, but unless there is substantial evidence that a UK contractor could actually do that in a shorter space of time – and in light of all the local economic issues – then I would favour continuing with our policy of using local contractors.’ The original scheme was scheduled to be carried out in three phases over a total of about 18 months, with breaks for TT, MGP and Christmas/New Year.

A Department of Infrastructure spokesman said the scheme would probably not begin now until next September after the MGP. He said: ‘Meetings will be taking place involving DoI, the local MHKs, Ramsey Town Commissioners, the schools, the police, the Chamber of Commerce and the business community to discuss the way forward. ‘It is now generally accepted that the road will have to close for a period in 2017-18 to enable the work to take place.’ He pointed out that UK companies would still be faced with the same constraints as DoI or local contractors – working hours, maintaining access, working with utilities and telecoms providers, and working around TT, MGP and Christmas Dr Allinson had asked in Tynwald for a comparison of roadworks costs here and in the UK. Mr Harmer said the cost of £150 per square metre compares favourably to a UK construction cost of £100-130 per square metre. He said the cost of bitumen is about 40 per cent higher than the UK due to the import cost."

Read more at: http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/would-uk-contractor-do-road-job-quicker-1-8249493


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