Hon Laurence David SKELLY MHK
The Minister for Economic Development (Mr Skelly): Gura
mie eu, Eaghtyrane.
I will not go over all the points that have been made,
but I would just first of all like to congratulate the
Minister for bringing forward the Steam Packet and the
horse trams in the same sitting – (Laughter)
But it is an important point, as the previous speaker
just highlighted: it is not about the Steam Packet and it
is not about the horse trams. The previous motions were
about strategic sea services. As highlighted, we need a
national maritime strategy around the sea services, and
equally here, we are talking about strategy for Douglas
Promenade. That is what you have got before you here:
Douglas Promenade Options Review. Very important here:
this is about agreeing and approving the
The Minister stated in his opening statement that he will
be coming back with financial plans and a design. We have
already heard of everyone’s view about the design,
whether we are going to keep the horse trams or not and
how far. We have heard the history with regard to
Douglas, and how they have masterfully actually put it
into central Government’s hands. Quite frankly, I think
it is a very good move. Why? Because we can have
joined-up heritage railways.
I just want to pick up a couple of points. Following on,
I think, from Mr Turner’s comments with regard to Manx
National Heritage and their potential involvement with
it. The motion in July stated that we would review – the
Department would review – the governance and the
operation of the horse trams in connection with heritage
railways. I do believe that body of work should continue
and understand exactly, does it sit right here in a
Department or should it be at arm’s length in a heritage
organisation? Whether it be a third sector or Manx
I would encourage that body of work to continue.
Several Members have, I think, highlighted the importance
for tourism, and clearly as Minister for Economic
Development, I would recognise the importance of this for
tourism, but I think it is very important that we find a
practical solution here. We absolutely must find a way
This is not just about tourism; this is about the
hospitality sector; this is about the retail sector; this
is about the quality of life and the uniqueness of our
offer. That is exactly what we have been doing when we
market the Isle of Man.
We have heard Mrs Caine talk about what happened when
they closed the MER between Laxey and Ramsey. It took
five years nearly to rebuild those numbers and that
economic benefit. And this is exactly what we need to do.
We have had the stop-start situation where Douglas
Corporation have turned around and landed it on our
doorstep and we have been struggling ever since to find a
solution. Now we have before us an opportunity to deal
I would also highlight the point here about planning.
That is where we have fallen foul in the past. The
proposal and the principles before you avoid that issue
and allow us to get on with this matter.
One other important point I would highlight is – and this
was raised in the previous debate – the sea wall. If we
are going to consider reconstruction of Douglas
Promenade, we need to consider the environmental impact.
We can preserve a nice new road, we can preserve the
horse trams, but do you know what? We have got the
environmental issue to consider. So I would like the
Department to pick up the point with regard to the sea
wall, to ensure that it will
be protected going forward.
So there is very little more I would like to add, but I
would just like to say – as others have already said – it
is time to come to a solution and a resolution here, and
see if we can get on with it, because this administration
does not want to hang around. It does not want to delay
things any further. Let’s get on with it and support the
Minister’s motion in front of us.