Meet the Commissioners

by John Slater

Before the meeting proper, Bill Quine, our Schools’ Co-ordinator, showed us copies of the first edition of the children’s Junior Guardian. This is impressive in both content and presentation. Warmest congratulations to the pupils of Peel Clothworkers School and the production team. Bill was much concerned in the Peel City Guardian when it was published by the Trust and continues with Vic Bates in producing our books. The paper is a splendid read and encourages the next generation of lovers of local newspapers.

We were pleased to learn that the WWll air raid shelter in Audrey Quirk’s back garden at the end of Battery Road has been successfully excavated and lifted over the hedge into the Daisy Field. This had to be done quickly as the house was in the process of being demolished before rebuilding. The Commissioners have been most supportive and the indications are favourable from the Planning Committee. When the final permissions are in place, it can be set in the ground and earthed over. It is historically important as probably the last example surviving on the Island. We will care for this important artefact.

Chairman of the trust, Ray Harmer MHK and former Chairman of the Commissioners invited those commissioners present to introduce themselves – Christine Moughtin (Chair), with 35 years service, Ian Davison (Vice-chairman), Alan Jones (housing), together with our new Town Clerk, Derek Sewell, who was introduced to the meeting. I remember him well from the happy years I enjoyed on the Planning Committee. He advised us on highway issues. We are delighted with his appointment and wish him every success.

Commissioner Jackie O’ Halloran was in hospital. We wish her all the best.

Unsurprisingly, we plunged straight into the disgraceful sewage disposal ‘system’ as the opening question. The meeting was reassured that a modern, covered system would be in place and functional in 2019. Given that the otherwise glorious beach fails all safety standards for seawater bathing, this had better be true!

The Peel Re-generation scheme was the next topic raised. Work is scheduled to begin on the 29th May, so watch carefully! The projected completion date for phase one is 12 months.

A traffic management scheme has been devised but as this ancient city with its narrow, crooked streets to break the wind force can never be adapted for modern traffic. Most of us say ‘thank goodness!’ Towns should be for people, not vehicles. In Peel we almost have to apologise to motorists for walking on the pavements when they want to park on them!

There was a long discussion about maintaining access to shops for deliveries. Derek’s reply showed how much thought has gone into this. Much has been learned from the schemes in Douglas, Ramsey and Castletown. Apparently, we will have two fewer parking spaces. The view was expressed that many people can’t park, now, and give up, to the detriment of local businesses.

One of our long -standing members asked, what is the benefit of the regeneration scheme? He rued the loss of the sandstone wall fronting St Peter’s churchyard, observing that there is little enough exposed Peel sandstone left, as it is. Sandstone gives Peel its unique character as limestone does for Castletown.

Commissioners felt that there had been a tangible benefit in Ramsey, already, with increased trading and fewer empty shops.

Surprise was expressed that what little money had been left over for Peel was being used in the Market Place but would exclude Michael Street, the principle trading area. Our MHK and Commissioners were pressing for this to be rectified. Failing this, it is difficult to see any tangible benefit.

Pleasure was expressed that the clock tower and its clock will be refurbished as part of the initial works. As one of only two examples of a bonnet tower in the British Isles, this is a very important landmark structure.

Relief was expressed at the prospect of increased powers to enable commissioners to tackle neglected buildings. This has been a long struggle.

There followed some questions about the redevelopment of the gasworks site. The mix of a couple of houses and industrial units, together with traffic management on and off the site was queried. We will soon see how this pans out!

The final question related to possible meetings between Peel Heritage Trust, the Commissioners and the regeneration committee. At present, the Trust’s chairman also chairs the regeneration committee.

He evening was entirely positive and well worth- while. It’s about nine years since the last one. We’ll have to shorten the time gap if some of us are to enjoy another! Thanks to our guests and members for their lively contributions.

Our next meeting is on Saturday, 9th April for a visit to a modern, Manx dairy farm. This belongs to Mr Edward Cowin C.P. at Ballaterson Mooar, Ballaugh. Meet at Peel Clothworkers School car park at 10.00am or at the farm at 10.30am. As places are limited to 24, please ring Corrie Wooding on 843502 to secure a place. On the 14th April, we can tour Tynwald with Ray Harmer, MHK. Meet at Parliament Building at 5.00pm.