Going postal

The talking point in town for the last day or two has been this (see http://www.manx.net/isle-of-man-news/73648/no-deal-for-ramsey-post-office
and http://www.manx.net/isle-of-man-news/73649/-plan-b-for-ramsey-courthouse ).

The real story is a textbook tale of Manx misgovernment, greed, dishonesty and (frankly) sheer stupidity. My sympathies are with the excellent staff who got shafted, but anyone else involved on either side can take a hike.

Before anyone got their snouts in the trough, what we had was a model of how a small town public service should work. Rather like all those pubs and small shops which have also been ‘rationalised’ out of existence by redevelopment, the staff knew every customer by their first name and went out of their way to help.

Then, a few years back, various political nonentities decided that the town centre looked a bit shabby and should be ‘redeveloped’. In the process, a company run by a disgraced politician’s family got rich on consultancy fees overseeing the move from the perfectly adequate old post office round the corner to the recently emptied courthouse-cum-police-station, then got even richer redeveloping the old post office.

Quite why they even got paid for a project requiring little more than covering the area in awful Chinese paving slabs to form a handy terrace for a new, unwanted, Costa, and screwing it up so badly that they had to rip them up and do it again (for which they doubtless took another consultancy fee)… I really would not know. This is how civic life in the Isle of Man has always been conducted, and as long as enough brown envelopes pass around why would anybody likely to receive them change it?

So, having achieved a ‘new’ town square which is just as ugly and soulless as every other identikit ‘redevelopment’ of every other perfectly adequate sleepy little town in Europe, with the tarted up courthouse-cum-post-office as a centrepiece, the nonsense might have stopped. But no. Because at that point anyone with half a wit realised that the real plan all along had been for an anonymous developer to acquire the courthouse as some sort of themed pub or night-club, having had all the real work done at public expense. Oh, and the Isle of Man Post Office simultaneously and suddenly announced they were closing their last two town post offices.

Crikey, what a coincidence, eh? And this even as the town’s one grotty night-club, just a few yards away, struggles to find enough sheep-molesters to throw up over each other each Friday and another pub just a few more yards away closes for good.

Well anyway, the peasants revolted, and eventually decided to set up a community company which could run the courthouse, take over the post office and keep the staff in jobs…..

Which sounded jolly good stuff, except that coming out of the woodwork to run this model enterprise were freeloaders from the town’s most bat-shit crazy evangelical enterprise (who recently lost the chance to acquire public land and funds for a hideous ‘super-church’) and fronts for another notorious political family who also have a side-line in property scams, and who are (coincidentally, we can be sure) desperately fighting to divert another major redevelopment project to land and premises they profit from.

In theory the ‘good guys’ are opposed to the politicians involved in the post office closure. In practice, politicians amongst them recently helped two of the ‘bad guys’ with housing problems.

In the case of one, to ensure his mother got a flat in the most sought after sheltered housing scheme; in the case of the other (following a messy marriage break-up in which the wife and family retain a flashy house) setting up a love-nest in the same sheltered accommodation for him and his mistress, even though neither are physically or financially in need. Oh, and even while the surrounding tenants have waited years for basic repairs, both flats were extensively refitted before the new tenants moved in. One wonders what might be the payback for such favours?

All of which explains why, while the current friendly, honest and efficient post office staff remain in their present premises, I will go out of my way to give them my custom. But as soon as that post office closes I will go out of my way never to use a privatised replacement staffed by disinterested jobsworths.

And as for a bogus ‘community hub’ run by the very swivel-eyed loons who kill off all hope of community? Life is too short to suffer that too.

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