How they voted:
|Member||July 2016||December 2016||January 2017|
In recommendation 6, to remove the words: ‘War Memorial’ and to insert the words: ‘Sea Terminal’.
In (ii) to remove the word ‘Broadway’ and insert the words ‘the Sea Terminal’
Hon Ray Karl HARMER Esq MHK
Hon Geoffrey George BOOT Esq MHK
What they promised:
House of Keys General Election 2016; responses
given to Isle of Man Newspapers re future of horse
Hon Ray Karl HARMER Esq MHK
"The horse trams should extend the full length of the
Hon Geoffrey George BOOT Esq MHK
"This saga has been running for far too long. Hundreds of
thousands have already been spent on consultants, planning
and the scheme is no nearer fruition. I support retention
of the trams along the whole of the promenade otherwise
their heritage transport significance will be lost. I would
favour a scheme to carry out repairs to the promenade
rather than the radical scheme at present proposed, in
other words basic resurfacing and tidying up."
What they said in Keys:
Hon Ray Karl HARMER Esq MHK
Did not speak
Hon Geoffrey George BOOT Esq MHK
Mr Boot: Thank you, Mr President.
I have proposed an amendment that is very similar to Mr
Malarkey’s amendment and, as he has proposed it and it
has been seconded, I will withdraw my amendment, Mr
President, if that is acceptable. In the meantime, I
would speak to the motion and the amendment, if I may. I
will endeavour to be brief, as indeed other Members are
after last night’s marathon.
It is common practice nowadays for many heritage railways in the UK to be operated by volunteers on a charitable basis, so I recommend the idea of a new vehicle and I am sure that there will be many interested parties who will participate in operating the horse trams in the future at significantly lower cost, perhaps on a voluntary basis. After all, this is the only functional horse tramway with transport significance that is still operating in the world, all the others are basically amusements, and so I think it is well worth preserving and a very marketable commodity.
I welcome Mr Malarkey’s amendment. I think it is
absolutely crucial, if they are going to retain any
transport significance, that they run along the whole
promenade and link with the Sea Terminal. As alluded to,
this is a developing destination for cruises and it would
seem absolutely counterproductive to cut the trams off
from a potential source of revenue. I think if we do cut
the track short it will fail to offer any form of
heritage transport link and, in essence, it will set the
trams up for failure. It is a bit like the tracks on the
Mountain Railway starting at Laxey and finishing at the
base of Snaefell, and telling people they need to walk to
the summit – I do not think that will work very well.
There are going to be financial implications, but with
the two-year grace period I think we can look at the
other options and they may well be solvable.
Hon Ray Karl HARMER Esq MHK
12. Horse tram services – Temporary stables and tram depot
The Hon. Member for Garff (Mrs Caine) to ask the Minister for Infrastructure:
What progress has been made by his Department in providing temporary stables and tram depot for the continued operation of horse tram services along Douglas Promenade over the next two years as agreed at July Tynwald 2016?
The President: Question 12, the Hon. Member for Garff, Mrs Caine.
Mrs Caine: Thank you, Mr President.
A Member: Hear, hear.
The President: The Minister for Infrastructure, Mr Harmer.
The Minister for Infrastructure (Mr Harmer): Mr
President, the Department continues to work positively
with Douglas Borough Council to seek a solution to
identifying a tram car depot and stables for the future
operation of the Douglas Horse Tramway.
We have made considerable progress in both improving the service and reducing the cost which has seen this year’s much improved results. There is further work to do over the next two years to improve the heritage experience and be part of the Promenade redevelopment for the long-term future. I feel that it is better to develop a well-thought-out plan and have a good chance of securing the long-term future of the line rather than to rush through a scheme that does not achieve the objectives. Therefore, we have applied for planning permission to put a temporary building on the Summerland site whilst we do further work on a long-term solution.
We believe there is considerable merit in the development of the tourist attraction as opposed to simply offering a trip out and back. The stable tours we have offered this year have been very successful and I am sure that we can build on this. Even a temporary building will allow us to offer these tours and a small shop.
I would like to place on record my congratulations and thanks to the efforts of the staff of our Public Transport Division in securing such positive results with almost no notice and to recognise that, if it were not for their actions and of others in the Department, as well as other groups, there would no longer be a horse tram service on the Promenade.
The President: Supplementary question.
Mrs Caine: Thank you, Mr President.
Can I ask the Minister to confirm what the likely cost of the temporary building on the Summerland site would be and how that compares with the cost price that the original stables is now being marketed for by Douglas Borough Council?
I ask whether consideration has been given to purchasing the stables and continuing those as the operation?
The President: Minister to reply.
The Minister: Thank you, Mr President.
The buildings on the Tramway Terrace have expired and we wish to replace them with new buildings for the tramcars, retaining the stable and allowing public access.
In relation to the purchase of the current stables, the asking price is higher than the Government valuer perceives it to be worth and we have approached Douglas Borough Council with a view of renting the stables. In essence, the work – as one of the reasons that Douglas ceased the tramway – was because of a potential £2.4 million cost for the Strathallan building and other buildings. The huge cost of that would be in relation to a temporary building. I do not have an exact figure to hand, but it was around £100,000 to £200,000. The idea would be that that would be reused elsewhere, so that cost could be found back.
In essence, it would be substantially cheaper.
The President: There are no further supplementaries. That brings us to the end of Questions for Oral Answer. Written Answers will be given to the next nine Questions.
The Minister for Infrastructure (Mr Harmer): Thank you, Mr President.
Douglas Promenade is one of the biggest and most important built environments in the Isle of Man. It is a space where people live, visit, work, relax, exercise, park and travel.
In addition to its cultural, social and transport importance, the Promenade is a gateway for visitors to the Island. It is also a critical part of the Island’s road network, handling around six million vehicle movements per year.
The Promenade is many things to many different users,
which is why there is no single design that meets the
aspirations of all parties. Tynwald Members and the Manx
public will appreciate that there must be an element of
compromise if we are to achieve meaningful
Last month the Department resurfaced the northern end of the Promenade because its condition was becoming intolerable. The new 35 mm thick surface has improved the driving conditions along the Promenade for a relatively small cost, but this is very much a short-term fix. Decisive action is needed to achieve a longer-term solution.
The outline budget for the Promenade is £23 million and so far £3 million has been spent on design fees and completing the small area in front of the Sea Terminal and up to the Jubilee Clock.
The last eight years have brought into focus the many
competing aspirations for the Promenade. It has become
clear to the Department that there is no design solution
capable of satisfying everybody’s ambitions for the
In summary, the option for twin tracks in the centre for the full length of the Promenade: whilst it has simplicity and avoids the loss in parking, it gives no improvement in traffic flows and loses the potential improvements around the Villa Gaiety.
The option for a single track to the seaward side provides these benefits of traffic flows and improvements in open space but at a cost to parking of between 200 and 300 spaces, depending on whether a dynamic loop is implemented. In addition, a single track does not provide the optimum horse tram service, because it loses the flexibility of the twin track.
Both these two options rely on the constraint that the tracks should run the full length of the Promenade. In challenging the constraint, the design provides more flexibility, which leads us to the motion set before us today.
The northern Promenade would be constructed like-for-like, providing simplicity and a proven track record, as well as providing the potential use of an MER or a modern light tram, by connecting the trams at Strathallan.
In particular, the Department believes this will support the horse trams and passenger numbers. This is because the overall investment will be better served by focusing this investment at the northern end and offering visitors the chance to combine a trip along the tramway with a visit to the stables and depot. It provides for a turn-up-and-go service of 15 minutes whilst potentially reducing the number of horses and carriages.
The southern end focus would be on improving traffic flows and improving parking, as well as fitting into the overall Douglas Masterplan. The connection between the south and the north at the Harris Promenade will provide the potential for an improved open space.
In conclusion, the substructure of the Douglas Promenade roadway is failing; the drainage system is failing; the Promenade looks tired and out of date; the roadway has clearly reached the end of its life. The rail track was laid in the 1930s and it is worn out. The rail edge is totally missing in places.
The Department has replaced the surface on the northern end of the Promenade as a temporary solution that will give some respite before it starts to fail again in about two years’ time. The Department, of course, could continue to resurface it, but it will progressively deteriorate at an increasing rate. For that reason, the core and the first part of the motion is that the roadways and drainage are to be fully reconstructed.
The second part of the motion highlights the importance of retaining a meaningful horse tram service and therefore asks that the twin tracks between Broadway and Summerhill are renewed in the current location.
The third element allows the new rails to be used for both horse trams and potentially the MER and/or a light tram system in the future.
The fourth part of the motion is important because it emphasises the need to keep simplicity at the heart of the design.
The fifth item allows us to improve the layout around the Villa Gaiety so it provides an open space and terminus, which will aim to be close to the Gaiety Theatre.
Items (i) to (v) allow work to start as soon as possible.
Items (vi) and (vii) refer to the area from the War Memorial to the Sea Terminal. Critically it keeps the options open at this stage. Clearly it is important to combine the needs of better traffic flows; improved junctions, particularly at Broadway and Church Road; parking; coach laybys; as well as horse trams.
More work is needed, in particular to identify the corridor for the horse trams. Further consideration and discussion with interested parties will enable the best option to be found. However, the Department’s intention is to keep the designs simple and focused on the core needs.
Approving the principles is only the beginning of the process. I will bring back to this Court a further financial motion early next year as well as designs as they come forward. I therefore ask that you support the motion standing in my name and approve the principles for the reconstruction of the Douglas Promenade, which will finally allow us to start work on this critical infrastructure.
Thank you, Mr President…
...The Minister for Infrastructure (Mr Harmer): Thank you, Mr President.
First of all, I want to congratulate all Members who participated in this excellent debate. It is absolutely right that we debate this now, that we get the principles right, that we get agreement, and that means that we can move forward and it is important to do this early, because if we do not do it early, we will not move forward, we will not get anything done, and we will be in exactly the same position as before.
There are many comments, so I will try and go through them all.
I just first of all, if I may, purely from a technical point of view, on the amendments by Miss Bettison and Mr Cregeen, they are just house-keeping amendments, so obviously, they are needed for those other amendments to actually be practical. So obviously, technically they are absolutely fine.
Okay, so first of all, what I need to highlight – and I think some Members did highlight this – is that what we are talking about here is, with regard to the horse trams because that is one of the issues that was mentioned, that we are not talking about their absolute removal. What we are talking about is actually creating a tram corridor and I just give some context of what that means: a tram corridor is actually where you lay concrete. So it is not a case of having to come back and do all that work. The tracks have been set in concrete.
Obviously initially, you tarmac that over, and then you can remove the tarmac relatively easily and put the tracks there.
So what I am trying to say is that a tram corridor is a real piece of physical infrastructure, which means that you can lay track at a later date at a relatively low cost, so I think that is an important principle. A tram corridor is not a mythical line on the map. It is actually something physical and it is a piece of engineering, so when for example, David Ashford, Hon. Member for Douglas North, was talking about ‘you cannot go back’, yes, actually the whole point is it is a corridor and you could lay the track at a later date. The saving that he is talking about is £750,000, which is the track itself. It is actually the price of the track.
In terms of what has changed – that was his first point
and we have got all the paperwork here – in a sense that
in many respects, the motion that was in June/July, was
all about horse trams. A key thing here is that we need
to consider this as a whole. That is what has been
brought to us today.
Since then, we have also had operating experience, commercial opportunity, and we have been able to run the trams, to see how those trams have worked, and how we can move forward. Okay, hopefully I have dealt with that.
I am thankful for Mr Callister’s comments – although he is not convinced about the figures. Again, what I would like to say is that it is looking to the next 20 or 40 years for the horse trams. I think a very, very important point here is that Tynwald has only given us authority to go for the next two years with the horse trams. Yet we are talking about having the full length definitely – and I have not dismissed that as an option going forward – but at the same time, we might not even have the horse trams to run on that service.
We have got to think, are we trying to save the horse trams, (Interjection) or are we just saying we do not want any change? The two are very, very different, because the horse trams are not the same as they were, we need to move forward. If we have fixed points where we do not budge or do not compromise, then we are limiting ourselves to absolutely no change. As the Member for Michael and Ayre pointed out, actually no change gets us no further forward, and we just go backwards.
I am very grateful for Mr Moorhouse’s comments on the cultural area, which was picked up by other Members, and improving that area. He did mention the flexibility, and this comment was also made by the Hon. Member, Mr Robertshaw, that there are other routes that a light railway could go in the future. We do need to think big, and I think that is absolutely true. So whatever system we put in place, has to be not just for horse trams but for light railway, and the motion allows for that, and is absolutely important.
I thank the Member of Council, Mr Corkish for his comments. What I would say, in reply, is that we cannot be bound by a previous administration, otherwise we may as well go home now. We have got to move forward. I appreciate it was done in July, but my problem with July was that it was just about the horse trams. It was not about the Promenade. It said ‘you can have your cake and eat it’, and it did not come up with any imaginative ideas for moving forward.
All I would say is that what we are trying to do here is try and move forward. We will have evidence as we go forward, and just to reassure the Member, in the sense that we are not removing the horse trams full stop; there is a corridor and we can come back and reinstate. It is not irrevocable.
I know, and I thank David Cretney for his contribution –
Mr Anderson: Hon. Member of Council.
The Minister: – in terms of the single line. A single line without any passing places would be worse than what we had before, and in some senses, that was what the July motion said. If we only have horse tram services every half an hour, effectively we have got no horse tram service. So we need passing places, and I understand that is in the amendment, and if we accept the fact that we do not want parking, and that we do not mind the impact of parking, then of course that is a valid option.
The only issue that I would say is that in 2012, when phase 2 or whatever it was called, went into planning, it did give an outline. That outline showed lots and lots of parking. Unfortunately what it did not do is talk about bus lay-bys, taxi ranks, and all of those other things; and also the latest OR rates. The point is that we can dismiss those OR rates, and we can say that we do not need to do them, but they will then fail planning, they will not get through planning. So in actual fact, again, to build to modern standards – and I think somebody else made that point that we do not want to just cram cars in – and not to cram cars in so that it looks like a parking lot, we will see a reduction in parking. So it is one of the constraints.
Therefore if we do a single line all the way, we have to accept that somewhere between 200 and 300 spaces will be lost. That is very much the case.
Again, just to thank the Hon. Member, Mr Robertshaw for
his ‘thinking bigger’. In the future, there might be ways
that we can think bigger. It sounds daft now that we
might have a light railway, but it may be that actually
if we had one, it would go to a commuter district, or
that should go through the heart of the town. The
distance from the Gaiety to the Steam Packet is about 1.1
km; from the Sea Terminal it is about 800 m – it is
actually a good route. We could go through that way to
the Sea Terminal. But it gives us different options to
look to in the future. If we use the light railway, it is
real positive way forward.
Whatever motion – and in some ways, I have come to this
whole debate, this whole issue, completely impartial;
trying to take a fresh look and trying to see what is the
best option. Is there any creativity that we can bring
into this? But whichever option comes forward, all I
would suggest is that we do need to support the
substantive motion. (A Member: Hear, hear.)
The thing about any heritage, once it is gone, it is
gone. But let’s make a distinction: if the Promenade work
goes ahead, we will be doing for example, Loch Promenade.
During that time, there will be no horse tram for that
section; but we will maintain the horse trams throughout
the project. It is different from saying we must
constrict ourselves right now at this point, we must fix
on a design – we must put the horse tram from the Loch
Promenade, either on the side or in the middle. All I am
saying today is we have an element of flexibility. That
is all it is: allowing us flexibility to come back with
designs to this Hon. Court.
In terms of the MER, shopping, yes, it is something quite
exciting, actually. I think the principles here today,
actually to get behind, are something different –
something incredibly exciting, where we can build a
cultural quarter that people are talking about. We can
actually have potentially the MER running down into and
along the Promenade.
That is what secures the horse trams. Fixing to ‘no change’ and hammering us down on specifics actually risks the horse trams. So I actually think we need to be bold. Again, I thank him for those comments.
The same from the Hon. Minister, Mrs Beecroft: we have kept, and it is largely ... I have to thank her for all the work that she has done in her Department previously, that has kept it going.
She has actually made the difference. She says that there needs to be compromise. Again, there absolutely needs to be compromise, but we need to bite the bullet, and that comment is absolutely right.
Miss Bettison talks about the culture quarter and I was very encouraged to hear that. That is a huge bit – multi-agency is absolutely important as we move forward with this design which I hope will go through today, and we can get this right because what we are doing first is we are getting the principles first; then we are going on to the design; and then we are going to actually do it.
principles right, let’s focus on that. Yes, I agree with the Hon. Member of Council, Mr Cretney that we have to get this right, but we do have to get it done. What we will do here is giving the principles. We are setting the principles again.
Mr Baker, Member for Ayre, we need to move forward, we need to think about the out-of- town shopping. We must not dismiss the idea of parking completely, and I would fully support that. I fully agree with that.
Finally, again, to Mr Skelly, about his comments. Absolutely, the financial motion: this is only the beginning of the process, but it does set a way forward that we can move forward and we can actually start the work. It talks about the visitor experience. Again, why do people use the horse trams? It is not a commuter route. It is a visitor experience, and we have to have that in mind.
So, there are many other comments. I hope I have got everything, that I have covered everybody. I thank all Members for their debate.
What I would say, with regard to the amendments, in summary, the one from Mr Ashford, actually it sounds great – we just carry on – but it misses a fundamental issue. That is why we really warn against this amendment. Of all the amendments, this is the one I am really deeply unhappy with. The reason for that is, when we first looked at the whole Promenade and we said, ‘centre of the road or to the side?’, the problem with the centre of the road, if you go all the way, if we look at the two junctions, Greensill’s and Broadway – the key thing about those is those junctions are appalling. If we just carried on as we are, and we just have it go down to the Villa Marina, it would be an absolute disaster. We would get no traffic improvements on Broadway, we will not be able to put that roundabout in, we will not be able to put that roundabout around Greensill’s Corner, the traffic will stay at the same speed as we have always has, and it will be an absolute disaster, so I have to fundamentally advise against that option. If we move ahead with that option, that will be it. I would seriously worry, because we would just be putting like for like – as Mr Baker pointed out, we are spending £23 million, and we will have exactly the same.
The reason why the double track works for the northern end is because essentially it is a different piece. It is a different piece in the sense of what it is trying to achieve. It is not close to the parking. Putting it to the side only removes parking, and there are many other jurisdictions that have trams in the centre of the road. But beyond Broadway and Greensill’s Corner, by insisting on being in the centre of the track, you lose all the traffic improvements (Mr Cretney: Hear, hear.) and we will just go backwards.
Of the ones that I am most sympathetic with, but I will not be supporting ... (Laughter and interjections) in the sense that a single line with passing loops absolutely could be done, but then you have got to take ... It is for this Court to decide. You have then got to take the hit on the parking and those other issues. But then in every other way, it is a lot better. We would need to have, in that instance, with any type of double loop between the Palace and the War Memorial, and a second loop and another passing place, it will obviously constrict what we can deliver.
What I would say to the comment that has been said,
‘Well, everybody can go to Chester Street’, again, we are
missing, because whenever we look at this situation, we
are always looking at it through our own eyes. I
understand that, but if you go to Chester Street, you
will then need to walk a mile. Let’s say you just want to
have some sandwiches, or you just want to park at that
end. You have then go to walk a mile or a half. Not
everybody can park at Chester Street to use the
Promenade. The whole thing about the Promenade is that
you can stop at various different parts. It is all down
for growth, so that is why ... and also for the retail
sector, that is another reason why it does have its
With that, obviously the two technical amendments, give
them full support, because withou those, those other
elements do not work.
Hon Geoffrey George BOOT Esq MHK
Did not speak