While the Budget is full of facts and figures, we also have to look at what it doesn’t tell us.
A One Year Budget
Treasury Minister Alf Cannan says this is a one year Budget, but with a General Election looming and a new gov set to take the reins in the autumn, it does leave some capital schemes and other areas up in the air. Mr Cannan says we need to reset the capital programme, but we don’t know what form this will take or what priorities the next gov will have. Tax and national insurance is staying still this year, but as the demands on the public purse keep growing, is this really sustainable?
In the past few months, plans for regional sewage treatment plants in Laxey and Peel have been rejected by planners. The Budget includes previously approved funding of £8,100.000 for Peel, Laxey and Baldrine. But with the first two flushed away, it awaits to be seen when, where and how much the regional sites will be.
Liverpool Ferry Terminal
The island’s new ferry terminal in Liverpool is going to be delayed. That in itself is not unexpected or unreasonable, the city has been under lockdown three times and the building trade in England has really struggled throughout Covid. However what the Budget reveals is that the scheme is under review, meaning we don’t know when it is due to be completed or how much the final bill to the taxpayer will be. Back in 2015, the Steam Packet said Peel Ports, which owns much of the area, would spend £15m on a replacement facility for the Pier Head terminal, where a cruise liner terminal is being built. However, then the Manx gov got involved. So instead of this arrangement, the gov bought part of Liverpool and in the 2018 Budget said the bill would be just over £30m. The bill to the taxpayer has now risen to at least £38m. We have asked the DoI when the scheme is due to be completed and what the new estimated cost is, but have as yet not had a reply.
The never ending tale of the promenade regeneration scheme, the future of the Douglas Bay Horse Trams is once again at risk despite the controversy which has taken it this far. In his Budget, the Treasury Minister has costed for £1.200,000 for the railway to be completed to the Sea Terminal end of the promenade from Broadway. Infrastructure Minister Tim Baker has said he is committed to it, but with the extra £1.2m being a question for the next gov, coupled with the public being quite fed up with the prom scheme as a whole, it remains to be seen whether the next gov will realistically support the Victorian tramway running the length of the promenades ever again.