Isle of Man Local Web Guide

Onchan - Geoff Cannel

Personal Introduction

I am 59 years of age and live at Central Drive, Onchan, with my wife Lynda (nee Clucas) and 24-year-old daughter Zoe, who works for a well-established ship management company in Douglas.

For the past three-and-a-half years I have had the privilege of being a Member of the House of Keys for Onchan. That opportunity came about when Ray Kniveton was elevated to the Legislative Council.

During that time I have been a member of the Department of Health and Social Security the Department of Home Affairs and the Department of Tourism and Leisure.

Other appointments have included chairmanship of Tynwald’s Select Committee on Local Government Reform, and membership of Select Committees on Constitutional Reform, the Steam Packet Company, and the Arthur Radcliffe Petition on Sulby Development.

In addition, I have served on the Ecclesiastical Committee and the War Pensions Committee and chaired Tynwald’s Committee on the feasibility of the establishment of a TT Museum.

Among major legislative measures I have successfully promoted in the House of Keys was the complex 106-clause Children and Young Persons Bill, bringing the Isle of Man up-to-date in the field of child care, following the Leslie and McManus reports which highlighted a number of deficiencies.

On a social note, I am proud to be a vice-president and compare of Onchan Silver Band and vice-president of Onchan Horticultural Society. I retain interest in the churches of the district and am a member of St. Peter’s Stewardship.

I am also on the management board of the Manx Foundation for the Physically Disabled, and am honorary secretary of the Isle of Man Centre of the Auto-Cycle Union.

At my by-election, I stated that, if successful, I would move back to live in Onchan, and am happy to say that came about shortly afterwards.The move renews my association with Onchan, which dates back to when I lived in The Park from 1950, then later resided at Nursery Avenue and Ballachrink Drive.

State of the Island

The number one priority in the Isle of Man is to maintain stable government and a well-managed vibrant economy.

As threats to world stability continue to mount, it is vital that a nation such as ours remains in charge of its internal fiscal policy, but be ready to answer the challenges posed by external affairs.

America has already declared that it will lead an unprecedented money-laundering crackdown on the world’s tax havens, promising that the era of offshore banking is "history".

The associated downturn in world financial markets and the likely ongoing effects on free movement of people and goods is certain to have far-reaching consequences.

The Island’s entire capital works programme should be re-examined immediately, and only essential projects continued. That would give breathing space for reserves to be enhanced. In any case, the construction industry has over-heated in recent years, and investment in it, when the downturn comes, will be important.

The other main concern in the Isle of Man is the provision of affordable housing for young people, particularly those on low incomes.

The first-time buyers’ house-building programme now being implemented by DOLGE is admirable, but has an unacceptably long period of formulation. It also has undue limitation on qualification status.

The present target is to bring on stream about 400 new housing units per year for the next five years, but includes 20 to 25 per cent being replacements for elderly property.

I consider it essential that an emergency committee be set up to thoroughly examine how the scheme can be enhanced. Government should be obliged to release more of its land stock free of charge, thus assisting the construction of houses and flats at cheaper cost.

The properties should be unable to be sold for individual profit before occupation of at least five years. Moving to approved second-time buyers’ houses would be encouraged by carrying forward the relevant proportion of the financial subsidy.

A way forward would be for the Isle of Man Government to form itself into a Housing Association, thus enabling it to commission the building of houses, then offer low interest mortgages based on individuals’ incomes. The Government would retain an equity interest until the full cost had been repaid.

I deplore the practice of new houses being "banked" by developers, thus driving up rents. The developers are reaping the rents while similarly seeing the value of the properties increase, despite them eventually being offered for sale as technically second-hand. If speculation can be identified, I would favour a high taxational penalty.

I would outlaw any further renewed agreements for occupancy of flats and apartments which have not received basic fire safety certification. Self-regulation of safety responsibilities has failed miserably.

I am very concerned about traffic problems, and would seek further stringent restrictions on speeding, particularly within housing estates, and I would support a reasonable all-lsland speed limit. I favour the outlawing of the parking of lorries overnight on the roads of residential areas and would advocate the creation of a commercial vehicle park for Onchan.

Population Control

Some erosion of the traditional Manx way of life is the price of the prosperity we currently enjoy.

While I welcome a modest increase in population, it is comforting that we now have measures in place to limit the number of permitted newcomers if need be.

I support the principle of the measures designed to curb the numbers, but only if it becomes really necessary.

My notion of the trigger point would be when it no longer can be demonstrated that our culture and way of life can be reasonably sustained, or that there is becoming too much pressure on our housing and/or employment situation.

However, there is no easy arbitrary way of putting up the shutters. Who would say a finance house expanding its Isle of Man operation could not do so? That same bank or insurance company might then turn round and say they would then go elsewhere, leaving the existing workforce (which would probably include a proportion of Manx employees) in the lurch.

Economic growth has brought with it an increase in population and a change in the age profile of the population so that a greater proportion are now economically active. In many ways these population movements are to be welcomed, but they do give rise to many social and infrastructural pressures.

The downside to the increased population is that some of the established population consider they are not enjoying their rightful share in the prosperity. It is important that everyone feels involved in the fashion the Island is now structured and financed, and I pledge that I shall do my utmost to have the wages and conditions of the lower end of the market brought up to respectable levels where everyone can feel their endeavours are worthwhile.

Social Issues

The escalating cost to Government for caring for problem children is becoming of great concern. Expenditure on Children and Families has grown at 32 per cent per annum over the last four years. Over £8million is being spent on this provision in 200 1-2, simply on the statutory obligation to deal with this difficult area of government. The increased population is bound to exacerbate this situation and I commit myself to supporting an all-department examination of all relevant circumstances.

The Police report a 60 per cent increase in the number of offences committed by juveniles. A small number is responsible for many of the offences. They do not respect authority and appear not to be afraid of being caught.

We will ignore this threat at our peril and I advocate a Special Juvenile Crime Unit being permanently introduced, specifically to track and curb the criminal activities of this menacing band.

There also needs to be a redoubling of efforts at combating the effects of crime arising from misuse of drugs and alcohol. The fight against financial crime must also be maintained with vigour.

Human Rights issues are also becoming prominent, and I undertake to reinforce the principle that everyone whose rights and freedoms are violated shall be afforded an effective remedy before a Manx national authority,

However, I hope not to see rafts of frivolous claims being pursued in bids to cash in on the current compensation culture.


During the last year the DHSS greatly increased the Manx Pension Supplement, currently standing at around £30-a-week. I understand the disappointment felt by those not qualifying by way of not having paid ten years of contributions into the Manx National Insurance Fund.

But, tempting though it is to say the supplement should be extended to all who pay Manx direct and indirect taxation, it nevertheless is a unique local benefit aimed at Isle of Man pensioners only.

The introduction of a Winter Fuel Payment such as that which operates in the U.K. would also receive my backing, as that is one area where the Island has not kept up, and so our Winter Heating Supplement is not as comprehensive. The Isle of Man already pays a generous across-the-board Pensioners’ Christmas Bonus and offers free TV licences for over-75s, but I favour any new heating allowance scheme being regarded as additional.

Another thorny subject is the provision of costs where people have to he cared for in residential or nursing homes. The charges for these are now reaching crisis level and often involves families’ potential inheritances being eaten away in very short periods.

Rather than the ownership of a house incurring automatic liability towards the payment of money for residential or nursing care, I would press for the basic figure to be set using the cost of an average small house. Only after that, would charges be levied.

Using such calculation, the average small house is valued today at £100,000, therefore no contribution towards care costs would be required.

Onchan Domestic Issues

I am pleased that my pressure has resulted in provision of a purpose-built Onchan health centre getting firmly onto the agenda. This is a necessity for a thriving community which should no longer have to rely on part-time branch surgeries.

Finding a location is tricky, but I am hopeful that Main Road or the Village Walk may yield the land required. Negotiations are ongoing.

Onchan is just about full for housing development and once Groudle Glen is complete, the shutters should he put up. Parking is strangling the district’s housing estates and excessive speed on all roads presents a very real danger.

I support moves to create more restrictive speed limits throughout Onchan, particularly in the estates. The speed humps are effective, but need backing up with other similar encumbrances on the roadways themselves.

On no account, should any housing be permitted on King Edward Bay Golf Course. Redevelopment of the Majestic and Douglas Bay Hotel sites is welcome, though not everyone cares for their style, nor recognises that a million-and-a-half pounds is the asking price for a penthouse!

Nursery education for Onchan is another scheme I have been pressed for and am happy to say is on the way at Ashley Hill. It will cater for all Onchan pre-school children.

A new secondary school at Bemahague is agreed and should enhance the educational prospects of all Onchan students in purpose-built modern surroundings with the latest technological aids. Seventeen million pounds has been earmarked and construction is set to start in 2005.

Traffic snarl-ups morning and evening continue to bedevil Governor’s Bridge and Summer Hill. I am hopeful that the traffic lights I have been pushing for might soon be forthcoming.

There are many pavements requiring attention, and the householders who ignore their obligations in cutting back overgrowing bushes on the estate pathways should have the work carried out by the local authority. then be billed for the cost.

Checklist on My Manifesto for the Onchan by-election in May 1998

  • More visible police presence - 40 per cent increase in foot patrols. 

  • Tagging of Convicted Criminals - about to commence. 

  • Police on Mountain Bikes - in being in selected areas. 

  • Better Regulation of Financial Services - Non-appearance on EU blacklist. 

  • More Incentives to Manufacturing - Dowty’s (Smiths Industries) expansion imminent. 

  • Secondary School for Onchan - agreed and in Estimates. 

  • Establishment of Isle of Man University — International Business School is the Pilot. 

  • Cheaper Power - Electricity cable in place and natural gas on the way. 

I believe I have honoured my pledge that I would speak up at every opportunity in the Keys and Tynwald, and have been a good ambassador for Onchan and the Island at local, national and international level,

Over the three-and-a-half years since election, I have always dealt promptly with requests for help, often calling personally to identify difficulties first hand. If re-elected, I undertake to continue that commitment.

In the run-up to the General Election I have canvassed the full Onchan area, including the Parish. I have been very pleased at the way I have been received, though on occasions some individuals have not been available for a chat. Inevitably, there will be an occasional Street, road, house or farm I have inadvertently missed.

As this manifesto is received, if there are any points wishing to be expanded upon, I am more than willing to personally call anywhere by mutual arrangement.

I respectfully ask for your backing to continue as a Member of the House of Keys for Onchan.


I am optimistic about the future for the Isle of Man. I feel we have the confidence in ourselves to really believe we are legitimate traders in the international financial market, and can hold our heads high.

Full employment, low taxation, improved government services and expanded capital works schemes all reflect the high standard of living shared by all.

There is no room for complacency and the next five years will demand extreme vigilance.

I believe I am truly fitted to continue to represent Onchan in the House of Keys and Tynwald.

My record shows that I am not afraid to demand and air Onchan’s and the Island’s views at all appropriate times.

My phone/fax number is
with a twenty-four-hour answering service.

Please check your Polling Card for your Polling Station venue.
Polls open: 10 am to 8pm

Published by G.T. Cannel, 1 Central Drive, Onchan, IM3 1ET

Printed from the IoM Elections Website.


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