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Local Authority Elections in the Isle of Man 26 April 2012. Local Government in the Isle of Man. Each of the Island’s 24 towns, villages, districts and parishes has a Local Authority.
26 April 2012
Each of the Island’s 24 towns, villages, districts and parishes has a Local Authority.
In Douglas the Local Authority is known as Douglas Borough Council (Douglas was granted the status of “Borough” by an Act of Tynwald over a hundred years ago) but in other parts of the Island the Local Authority is called the Town, District or Parish Commissioners.
1 Borough Council
3 Town Commissioners
3 Village Commissioners
2 District Commissioners
15 Parish Commissioners
Onchan District was formed when Onchan Village and Onchan Parish joined together. Similarly, Michael Village joined with Michael Parish to make Michael District.
The two Local Authority areas with the most seats, Douglas with 18 and Ramsey with 12, are both divided into smaller constituencies or “wards”. Ramsey has 2 wards: North Ward and South Ward. There are 6 members of Ramsey Town Commissioners elected from each of these wards. Douglas has 6 wards: Athol, Derby, Hills, Murrays, St George’s and Victoria. Each ward has 3 seats on Douglas Borough Council.
The 18 Councillors elected in Douglas work for the good of the whole town but they represent their own areas of the town. The same is true of the 12 Commissioners in Ramsey. The remaining 22 Local Authorities have just one constituency.
A map of the six Douglas wards
The number of seats on each Local Authority is determined by that Local Authority. The larger Local Authorities often have several committees and need more members to do the work of each committee. For example, Douglas Borough Council currently has the following committees: Policy and Resources, Leisure Services, Public Works and Public Health & Housing in addition to special committees for Commercial Lettings and Boundaries. Smaller Local Authorities do not have a committee structure but may need members to represent them on District committees. For example, the Commissioners of Peel, Patrick, German, Marown and Michael are represented on the Committee for the Western District Civic Amenity Site where householders can take their garden waste and items for recycling.
Local Authorities – not “one size fits all”
The larger Local Authorities in the Island’s four towns, Douglas, Ramsey, Castletown and Peel have a Town Hall. Most Local Authorities have an office but the smallest Local Authorities may share an office and may even hold their meetings in the home of one of the Commissioners. Similarly the largest Local Authorities employ more staff. Douglas Borough Council employs around 250 staff, including a Chief Executive, Borough Treasurer and Borough Engineer, whereas some of the smallest Local Authorities employ just one part-time clerk for a handful of hours each week.
ArboryCommissioners meeting hall
Douglas Town Hall
Just as Local Authorities vary in size, so they also vary in the services they provide. The larger Local Authorities may provide libraries, public gardens, golf courses, tennis courts and car parks. They may also be housing authorities providing affordable ‘social’ housing for rent. They may have their own maintenance workers, their own refuse lorries and street cleaning vehicles. Small Local Authorities may offer very few of these things and they are likely to put services such as refuse collection out to tender.
This first table gives a summary of the functions that Local Authorities shall/may carry out.
This second table gives a summary of the functions that Local Authorities carry out with the help of central government. The Department of Local Government and the Environment has a Local Government Unit that supports and works with the Local Authorities but also monitors some aspects of their work.
Standing for Election
18 year-old politicians?
Since 2006, the minimum voting age in the Isle of Man has been 16 years. Any registered voter over the age of 18 years can stand for election to any Local Authority on the Island. There are some restrictions: anyone who has spent over 3 months in prison in the last 5 years or who has been found guilty of corrupt or illegal practices cannot stand for election. It is not sufficient for someone to nominate himself or herself for election – would-be candidates need a voter from the constituency to nominate them, someone to second their nomination and 8 other voters’ signatures in support of their nomination. Nominations for the Local Authority elections must be submitted four weeks in advance, only then does it become clear whether there are enough candidates for a vote to be held.
Manx Radio website 31 March 2012.
The actual process of voting is fairly simple. The voter attends at a polling station in the constituency in which he or she lives with the voting card received through the post. The polling stations are open from 8am – 8pm.
There may be people at the door of the polling station who ask you for your number on the electoral register (it will be shown on your voting card). These are people working on behalf of the candidates and they are keen to know who has voted so that later in the day they can contact any of their candidate’s supporters who have not yet voted and can encourage them to vote – they may even offer transport to the polling station. You do not have to give these people any information at all but most people do – they are volunteers supporting the candidates for the election. They are not entitled to know who you plan to vote for.
You then enter the polling station, hand in your voting card and receive an official ballot paper (sample overleaf). In a constituency with nine seats you can vote for nine candidates. In seven-seat and five-seat constituencies you vote for up to seven or five candidates respectively (you can vote for fewer candidates if you wish). You vote by entering the private polling booth and, using the pencil provided, placing a cross next to the name of the candidates for whom you are voting. You fold up the paper, so no-one can see who you voted for, leave the booth and place your folded ballot paper directly into the large sealed ballot box. When this is opened at the end of the voting, the tellers (counters) and the candidates will not be able to tell who has voted for which candidate.
DIRECTIONS FOR THE GUIDANCE OF THE VOTER IN VOTING
1. The voter may vote for not more than...candidate[s]
2.The voter should see that the ballot paper, before it is handed to him, bears the official mark.
3.The voter will go into one of the compartments and, with the pencil provided in the
compartment, place a cross on the right hand side of the ballot paper opposite the name
of each candidate for whom he votes.
4.The voter will then fold up the ballot paper so as to show the official mark on the back, and leaving the compartment, will, without showing the front of the ballot paper to any person, show the official mark on the back to the presiding officer, and then, in the
presence of the presiding officer, put the paper into the ballot box, and forthwith leave
the polling station.
5.If the voter inadvertently spoils a ballot paper he can return it to the presiding officer,
who will, if satisfied of such inadvertence, give him another paper.
6.If the voter votes for more than...candidate[s], or places any mark on the paper by
which he may afterwards be identified, his ballot paper will not be counted.
7.If the voter fraudulently takes a ballot paper out of a polling station or puts into the
ballot box any paper other than the one given to him by the presiding officer, he will be
liable on conviction to custody for a term not exceeding 6 months.
A sample ballot paper