State Sponsored Vandalism

Dear Friends,

It is with a mixture of deep sorrow and White Hot Fury that I bring you pictures of what the Department of Transport, Harbours Division, did to the Queen's Pier in March. Not content with failing to honour the Island's Planning Laws since the Pier was placed on the Register on 27th January 1995 they are continuing to show their total contempt for Registered Building Legislation.

In 2002 they made a frustrated attempt to remove parts of the Structure of Queen's Pier. It failed as they had "forgotten" to comply with the Planning Process relating to Registered Buildings. So a correct Application was filed under Application RB154 (02/02102/GB) in December 2002.

This did not succeed.

So they tried again in December 2003 with a revised Statement of Case. This again was firmly controlled by the Planning Department and plans to remove the seaward steps and lengths of railings were refused. Limited work was carried out.

It is therefore quite clear from these earlier attempts that those responsible for the Pier are well aware of their obligations to seek Registered Building consent each and every time they require to carry out works on the Pier. This was re-inforced by their evidence to the Select Committee of 2005 and further confirmed to the Select Committee by Director of Planning, Ian McCauley.

And yet in total contempt of Tynwald and the Chief Ministers Working Group, chaired by Hon Phillip Gawne, as well as the wishes of the Manx people who voted by 81% in favour of Restoration, Harbours Divison have yet again carried out what can only be described as an illegal* and despicable act.

The photographs show that the majority of the railings along the north side of the Pier have been callously cut away and scrapped!

Yes! Scrapped! They even ripped out the 'insecure bolts' as examination of the photos will show!

This despite the bland assurances that the items removed would be placed in store for re-use! These assurances were completely worthless.

Not only that but they never even made the slightest attempt to comply with Legislation by seeking prior approval of DoLGE experts but simply took it upon themselves to flout the Law. My enquiries of DoLGE have confirmed that no application has been received. This is in direct contravention of legislation. Pressing home our enquiries gleaned the information that the materials were safely stored but our requests to inspect these were turned aside. However The Conservation Officer at DoLGE was eventually shown certain posts at Port Erin that were said to be the removed items. He was NOT told that a considerable amount of valuable square bar wrought iron railing had been scrapped as being of "no material significance!"

On whose authority was this 'decision' made?

What were his/her qualifications?

The only people in a qualified position to make that decision are our Planners, yet they were not even approached or advised! It was only when we produced irrefutable proof of what had taken place that Harbours came clean and finally admitted to the Planning Department the full extent of what they had done. They plead 'public safety' when all that was at fault was the split woodwork where the railings were bolted down. Instead of a simple timber repair, cutting tools were used to vandalise the wrought iron.

Harbours have always attempted to hide behind Tynwald's decision in 1994 to Mothball the structure for a limited period but their latest act of Vandalism has shown this to be a total sham! This is not mothballing, this is demolition by stages.

* They cannot even hide behind Section 29 of the Act where it could be a defence to prove the works were
(a) urgent,
(Ongoing for five years!!)
(b) no other practical means were available to effect a repair, (of course there was!)
(c) The works were limited to the minimum necessary as the photos will readily disprove,
(d) They served Notice justifying their works as soon as reasonably practicable.
(They have yet to do this)

Planning Facts

The applications of 2002/3 and statement of case referred to Enforcement Notices by H&S in support of the case to remove the siding, rails and steps. The Enforcement Notice simply said that they should be secured. Yet Harbours interpreted this as a case for removal. Their Application was resisted and ultimately withdrawn. So now they return and do it anyway without even paying lip service to the Law!

We have repeatedly warned DoLGE of the distinct possibility that their preferred and laudable option of patient negotiation and cooperation would fail and it gives us no pleasure to have been proved right. The Manx Government must act NOW to prevent any further examples of the Harbours Divisions cavalier contempt for our Planning Laws manifesting themselves.

If you feel as strongly as I do, please write to the Chief Minister and your MHK with your views today!



© 2008 Friends of Queens Pier, Ramsey, Isle of Man. Reg. No. 634. E&OE. Design By David Kinrade -