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Patrick Commissioner's handling of complaint found as maladministration

Thu, 09 Nov 2023

By Local Democracy Reporter Emma Draper
By Local Democracy Reporter Emma Draper
Patrick Commissioners’ handling of a complaint which spanned nine months has been found as maladministration by the Tynwald Commissioner for Administration.
Angela Main-Thompson ruled in favour of a complaint made by a couple who live in the parish.
Patrick Commissioners, and a board member referred to as Commissioner X, had agreed to look into ‘scraping back’ a grass verge which had overgrown onto a road.
However Ms Main-Thompson found that Commissioner X had carried out the work on his own terms.
It was commenced on 23 January this year and Mr and Mrs N, as they’re referred to in the report, were first made aware a few hours later when neighbours alerted them to the work being carried out.
The report states Mrs N was told by Commissioner X he had a ‘legal right’ to carry out the work and the work was being carried out by, and on behalf of, the local authority.
The couple contacted the board which denied any authorisation of the work and the clerk said he would contact them with further information.
On 6 February the Department of Infrastructure visited the road and put up road closed signs because it deemed the road unsafe after an inspection.
The department had concerns that there could be a landslip onto the highway as the grass bank had been ‘sliced through’ rather than scraped.
Ms Main-Thompson says she had a meeting with the Clerk of Patrick Commissioners in which he confirmed he would’ve had a site meeting once the commissioners had agreed to a contractor – but Commissioner X went ahead with the ‘extensive works’.
In October the head of highways and asset management was contacted by a surveyor looking for information with regards to the incident.
The surveyor said Commissioner X undertook work to widen the road by ‘digging into an uphill bank’ which was over 20 meters long. 
This then provided him, and two other farmers, ‘some access by vehicular – quad bikes’ to be able to farm their land ‘more effectively’.
The DOI officer said she believed the works were carried out by Patrick Commissioners in preparation for a visit from the Lieutenant Governor.
She said it’s ‘totally unacceptable’ for individuals to carry out works on government land for ‘personal benefit’.
Ms Main-Thompson concluded her report by saying the commissioners need to improve it’s website and communication because it is not ‘efficient’.
She adds the Local Government Unit need to consider whether the powers it has are good enough and should consider being able to suspend commissioners for a reason that isn’t a criminal conviction.
The full report can be found here.



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