District leader could be ousted after letter to Minister

Rob Callister
Rob Callister

The chairman of Onchan Commissioners is tonight (Monday) facing a vote of no confidence after sending a letter to every MHK and MLC about potential changes to public sector housing.

Mr Callister sent out an open letter to Chris Robertshaw MHK, the Minister for Social Care, on Onchan Commissioners-headed paper outlining his concerns.

However, other members of the board have taken exception to his actions.

Mr Robertshaw has outlined proposals to take public sector houses away from local authorities and create four or five housing authorities instead and recommendations will be laid before Tynwald in November. However, it’s understood local authorities won’t see that report till seven days earlier, leaving them little time to prepare a response.

Mr Callister tells Mr Robertshaw that the report by the David Tolson Partnership into the issue found no failings in the way local authorities ran housing and that was no evidence reforms would save money.

Mr Callister says any savings were meant to come from procurement costs but doubts that will happen.

‘It is more likely to increase costs, which will have to be paid for by our tenants through higher rents,’ he concludes.

He says a housing role is a ‘cornerstone’ of local government.

He suggests: ‘Your department’s intention for setting up these four or five housing authorities is for the sole purpose of gaining management and administrative control over housing provision on the Isle of Man, which is contradicting the recommendations highlighted within the revised Scope of Government report.’

He says that will lead to redundanices in housing officers in local authorities, while those who work for government would be safe.

Mr Callister was not available to comment.