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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 September 2005, 14:16 GMT 15:16 UK
Parish commissioners face probe
A public inquiry is to be held on the Isle of Man into concerns about decisions made by parish commissioners.

The government has ordered the hearing to look at actions of the Braddan Parish Commissioners, including their setting of local rates.

The Department of Local Government and the Environment said the inquiry was "in the public interest".

Commissioners said they were confident the inquiry would find no wrong-doing, branding it a waste of public money.

'Big distraction'

Chairman Gary Beattie said commissioners were trying to concentrate on ongoing projects to improve streetlighting and playgrounds in the parish.

"It's going to be a big distraction, especially with the amount of money that is going to be charged on this," said Mr Beattie.

"It could fall on the rate payer (to foot the bill)."

The inquiry will be conducted by Roger Rawcliffe in November and will look at five specific areas.

These include the provision of staff pensions, the setting of the parish rate for 2005-2006, the alleged withholding of information by the commissioners when requested to supply it to the government, and the exclusion of one commissioner, Andrew Jessopp, from proceedings.

John Rimington, minister for local government and the environment, said: "Ratepayers are entitled to expect their local authority to provide value for money in carrying out its functions.

"The department has a responsibility to look into such matters if it considers it appropriate to do so."

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