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 TT Fun Fair Under Fire

Two Douglas East MHKs have blasted the decision to hold a fun fair at Lord Street bus station, Douglas. In a last-minute scramble, the fair normally held at Noble's Park was set up at the bus station. But Phil Braidwood and Brenda Cannell reacted angrily over the Department of Tourism and Leisure's failure to consult them.

They believe the fair is causing noise pollution, parking problems and chaos for bus passengers. Mr Braidwood said: 'I am astounded that nobody has come to us as we would obviously have made some comments. They have just gone ahead with no consultation.

'There is going to be a lot of noise because, unlike at Noble's, the noise won't dissipate. We have some hotels nearby and areas where the elderly live. 'There are no places to park and we have lost the Bottleneck car park to the beer tent. There are also the office workers who need places to park.'

He continued: 'I have received complaints about the bus service in the area. Some elderly people have been wandering around not knowing what to do. It has been utter chaos.'

Mrs Cannell said: 'It is disappointing the DTL didn't have the courtesy of informing us. 'It is going to be a hassle for the elderly people living nearby.' The DTL has ensured the normal noise from music at the fair will be cut by about two-thirds but Mrs Cannell said: 'If it is full there will be a lot of screaming people.

'If it is going to be run to the same times as in previous years it won't finish until gone 10pm.' The decision to go ahead with the fair was made just two days before its arrival. But Mrs Cannell described it as a knee-jerk reaction.

She said: 'A decision like this which is important to the local community cannot be decided in 48 hours. It has been put together without proper thought. 'If you do it like this you will have problems. It is crisis management and the whole of the TT events have been done like this.'

DTL Minister David Cretney said his department was forced to make a quick decision over where the fair would go. Drainage problems at Noble's Park and the fact the TT 'festival' is centred on the promenade and not at the grandstand dictated the venue. Mr Cretney said: 'It was all very last minute. We could not hold it at Noble's Park because the fair would be required to put down plastic or wooden flooring to stop the rides from sinking.

'It would cost a lot of money which the fair couldn't afford and therefore would not have come. 'Due to the circumstances [of foot-and-mouth] we wanted to put activities on in the urban areas. 'It would have been a great shame if the fair hadn't come, especially for the youngsters of the Isle of Man' In relation to the alleged bus chaos Mr Cretney said there have been problems with people having to move from shelter to shelter for different buses.

But he explained: 'We have tried our best to provide temporary bus shelters and we have improved the situation further.' DTL chief executive Terry Toohey said it had worked closely with Douglas Corporation and the departments of transport and local government and the environment.

'Other places have town centre funfairs and we are hoping it will work well,' he said. 'The operators have indicated they will reduce the noise factor and the situation, including health and safety aspects, will be monitored. I hope the fair will add to the atmosphere.' He allayed fears the fair was disrupting the bus service. Mr Toohey said: 'The bus service will not be affected at all. We will use this opportunity as a dry run for when the Lord Street station is decommissioned shortly.

'There is the lay-by for buses to pull in to and there are stops on the seaward side also.' Fair operator Jan De Koning said the bus station was a better venue for the quieter TT. 'Even if we could have used Noble's as there is very little camping close by and we wanted to be nearer the action on Douglas promenade,' he said.

'Bringing over a great big fair would probably not have been viable. 'My first preference would probably have been along the prom but the hoteliers would probably object.' The fair, open until June 17, also has a new ride. Mr De Koning explained: 'We have a big new attraction called the Bomber. It is a great big propeller with four seats on each end which spins in excess of 70mph and is 140 feet high. It is the only one of its kind in Europe.'

Mr De Koning said all the necessary precautions have been taken regarding foot-and-mouth. He said: 'We have cancelled a lot of events in England as we attend a lot of agricultural ones but we have sprayed all the equipment and have worked closely with the relevant authorities.'

Mr Cretney concluded by saying: 'My department has been faced with a million different problems with last-minute organisation. 'I apologise if anyone has been inconvenienced but if they have a problem they should contact me and I will be happy to help.'

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