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Fairer Local Democracy 3 November 2004

Reform proposals outlined in a report published today (Tuesday, November 2, 2004) offer a 'fairer, stronger' system of local democracy for the people of the Isle of Man, says DLGE Minister John Rimington MHK.

The report recommends the introduction of four new north, south, east and west area authorities outside Douglas, with the scale and viability to deliver consistent, cost-effective local services. But town, village and parish bodies would be retained to reflect the identity and views of their individual communities.

Mr Rimington said:

"The report sets out a framework for the development of a fairer, stronger system of local democracy in the Isle of Man - one that gives all ratepayers the opportunity to benefit from proper, accountable, value-for-money services.

"The present system is outdated, manifestly unfair, inefficient and riddled with anomalies. The public of the Island deserve a new structure that will deliver local services more effectively while preserving the spirit of local communities."

The Department's report on the effectiveness of the Island's local government structure is due for debate at the December sitting of Tynwald. It highlights wide variations and inequalities in the level, cost and burden of local services across the Island. The report states:

  • Some Island residents are paying twice for services, through rates and taxes
  • Taxpayers and some ratepayers are subsidising local residents in other parts of the Island
  • Few local authorities publish a clear statement of how their ratepayers' money is spent

The report shows that residents in the same area can pay vastly differing rates but often have access to similar services and facilities. For example (in 2003/04):

  • A resident of Four Roads in Rushen could be in either Rushen Parish (rate of 71p in the £), Port St Mary (242p) or Port Erin (210p)
  • The residents of Andreas (108p), Ballaugh (83p), Bride (32p), Jurby (98p), Lezayre (90p) and Maughold (72p) are very likely to enjoy the facilities of the neighbouring town of Ramsey (275p) whose ratepayers will, to some extent, be subsidising their rural counterparts
  • It costs the ratepayers of Castletown over twice as much as ratepayers in neighbouring Malew to provide a similar service

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