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DLGE Chief Executive to Retire 17 May 2006

The Chief Executive of the Department of Local Government and the Environment, Antony Hamilton, has confirmed that he will be retiring from the Civil Service in November 2006 on completion of 40 years’ service. Advertisements to fill the vacancy this will create will appear shortly.

Antony Hamilton began work in the Isle of Man Civil Service in November 1966 in the then Local Government Board where he spent the first 9 years of his career. He gained experience in Housing, Planning and in the administration of various Financial Aid Schemes, where he was involved in providing assistance to first time buyers to purchase their first homes, home owners to improve their living standards, and hoteliers to improve their tourist accommodation.

In 1975 he was promoted to the post of Clerk to the High Bailiff, a position he held for almost five years. During this time he streamlined the administration of the Island’s Licensing Courts’ Annual Sessions. He was greatly saddened recently at the death of His Honour Henry Callow CBE who was the High Bailiff at the time and with whom he enjoyed a happy, close working relationship.

In May 1979, Antony was appointed as the Head of Administration and Secretary to the then Tourist Board. This coincided with a substantial increase in tourist arrivals to the Island, though he admits this might have been more to do with the fact that it was Millennium Year than as a direct result of his appointment! Whilst at the Tourist Board, he was the Secretary of the Gaiety Theatre Management Committee, which was heavily involved at that time in progressing the renovation of the Victorian theatre, and Secretary to the TT Race Organising Committee. One of the first tasks given to him was to liaise with the BBC in planning and organising the Isle of Man arrangements for the popular Seaside Special programme, two of which were to be filmed on the Island. This presented a number of novel challenges, not the least of which was the logistics of bringing over 30 large vehicles to the Island and a Big Top circus tent and finding a suitably large, secure and accessible site. After extensive discussions with landowners and public authorities, a site to the rear of Castle Rushen High School was chosen but even this required the creation of a special access route for the long, wide vehicles. One of the great successes of this venture was that, in addition to two prime time TV programmes featuring different parts of the Island and top stars of the day, “Top of the Pops” was broadcast ‘live’ on the Thursday evening in the open air with a beautiful sunset behind - good publicity that would normally be too expensive to buy!

Whilst at the Tourist Board, he was offered a position as a Port Lecturer sailing the world for a cruise company after he had spent two weeks giving talks to passengers on the cruise ship Vistafjord, anchored off the Island. The Vistafjord had been chartered by British Leyland as a part of the launch of its new Mini Metro car that year. The ship was used for bringing motor traders, fleet managers, garage proprietors and journalists, with their partners, to the Island every other day to test drive the new cars. Whilst the principal invitees were test driving their cars, Antony gave presentations to their partners about the Isle of Man and what it had to offer as an historic, sporting and tourist destination. However, although admitting to being rather flattered and tempted by the generous offer of what appeared to be a very attractive job, Antony’s keen desire to continue serving his beloved homeland caused him to decline.

Further promotion came in October 1981, when he was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Civil Service Commission and to the two Public Service Whitley Councils. His love of dealing with people meant that this was a role which gave him a considerable degree of personal fulfilment. It was at this time that he was successful in persuading the Civil Service Commission that training should be introduced for all Civil Servants and, subsequently, for all Public Servants on the Island. Prior to that, any training that had been undertaken within Government had been very sporadic and uncoordinated. Creating the training function within the Personnel Office has been one of his proudest achievements. It has had a major impact on the work of Government Departments, Boards and Offices. Not only has it has meant that there has been a more planned approach to meeting individual development needs but it has also meant that staff working in different parts of Government are brought together on a fairly regular basis, which has encouraged inter-Departmental co-operation to a much greater extent than would otherwise have been the case.

In 1989, Antony Hamilton was promoted to Chief Officer of the Personnel Office, Secretary to the Civil Service Commission and Secretary to the two Public Service Whitley Councils. As Chief Personnel Officer, he led the development of a range of corporate HR policies which were subsequently approved by the Council of Ministers and implemented. This was a position he held until his selection for the key post of Chief Executive of the Department of Local Government and the Environment, which he took up in June 1996.

Antony is the longest serving Chief Officer in the Civil Service and, by the date of his retirement, he will have been the Chief Executive of the Department for some 10½ years. Mr Hamilton said, in speaking about his forthcoming retirement,

“When my wife, Sandra, retired two years ago, I decided that I would retire when I had completed my 40 years’ service with Isle of Man Government in 2006. There is never a good time to leave, especially when you are doing a job you enjoy so much and when so many tremendously interesting challenges still lie ahead. However, I believe all organisations benefit from an injection of fresh blood and new ideas periodically. Several senior members of my staff are due to reach their retirement age in the next 2 to 3 years and it is better that my successor should be in post to oversee the important decisions on appointing their replacements. I also feel it is important that the new Chief Executive, who will be appointed from November 2006, will be in post by the time of the General Election and able to have a completely fresh start when the Minister and Members of the Department are appointed following the election.”

He continued

“It has been an enormous privilege to have been the Department’s Chief Executive during what has been a tremendously stimulating period. I know I shall be leaving the Department in a much healthier state than when I was appointed. I would want to pay tribute to my highly professional and conscientious staff for their dedication and hard work when dealing with many contentious and unpopular issues affecting our Island community.”

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