The DoI Minister says he will come to Tynwald later this year to explain where taxpayers’ money has been spent on the prom scheme.
Tim Crookall made the commitment as he also confirmed he will need to ask for extra cash to finish the over-budget and much-delayed scheme.
When answering questions on the future of the horse trams and whether they will ever return to the Sea Terminal, Mr Crookall said it was up to Tynwald whether that money would be granted. This caused Speaker Juan Watterson to interject, saying ‘you’ve had the money’.
The Minister said: ‘I need to know if there is financial support to finish off the war memorial to the Sea Terminal before I commit other major works after we finish off what we’re doing at the moment.’
Jason Moorhouse MHK said the Minister had been teasing that issue for a while and asked when he intended to come to Tynwald to see that extra money.
This led to Mr Crookall telling members: ‘The idea is, that when I come back, it will probably be in June when the job is hopefully finished and I’ll have to come back for an overspend on the job, then hopefully I will be looking to Tynwald for support then, just verbally, whether they would support me then going to Treasury next year to finish that job from the War Memorial to the Sea Terminal. If Tynwald doesn’t support me then I won’t bother taking that to Treasury when we go back for Budget talks.’
Daphne Caine MHK asked the Minister to clarify what additional expenditure was still available to the DoI, an issue which has not been the most transparent in the past year or so.
Mrs Caine said: ‘I think previously he has said £1.2m to the War Memorial and £1.5m to the end, or in that region. But, would he accept, that Tynwald has previously voted, three times I believe, in support of the horse trams, latterly in 2017, to instruct the department to complete the single tramline between the War Memorial and the end of Loch Promenade.
‘So doesn’t he feel that his department should carry out the will of Tynwald and complete the tramline and when he talks about the overspend and the additional funding needed for the tramlines, would he accept that this is because of the overspend on the roadway and the tramlines have not had the expenditure that was initially in the project for them? So why is the department’s incompetence now being the responsibility of the tramlines and the tramlines now being at risk because of the department’s incompetence.’
I Mostly Agree
Responding to Mrs Caine, the Minister said he agreed with ‘nearly’ everything the Garff MHK had said, ‘except for the incompetence part because it’s not just the department here, there are other people involved as well’.
He said he didn’t find the spending of millions of taxpayers’ money funny and ‘really hard to deal with within the department’. He added that Mrs Caine was ‘basically right’ with her figures and said when he comes back to Tynwald to seek more money for the overspend, he would provide a breakdown of where the money has been spent.
Mr Crookall said: ‘There will be a breakdown of where all the money has gone. I know money has been taken from the tramlines, to finish the tramlines, and put back into the prom and people need to know exactly where that’s gone. There are other parts that had money taken from them too, as far as I’m led to believe to go into the prom to finish it and I will absolutely make that clear to members of Tynwald.’
A £750,000 overspend for the prom was previously approved by members when former MHK Tim Baker was minister. In 2021 the DoI was accused by former Douglas East MHK Chris Robertshaw of a ‘sleight of hand’ when it removed the trams from the overall scheme.