Thursday, 1 January 2009

Youth facility? Don't bet on it!

A small item in this week’s Examiner has me wondering if local kids are about to get groomed by quite unsuitable adults. IOM Newspaper staff notoriously avoid investigative work which upsets the local elite, so I suspect the story only fills a hole on the page, but still curious.
The dreaded Living Hope Community Church (AKA 'the Southern Daft Cult') have a change of use planning application in for the old Lancashire House pub, a tumbledown dump out in the Santon wilderness. They want to turn it into a ‘youth social centre’, which is curious as there are only half a dozen houses within miles in either direction.
'The Lanky' was a handy watering hole halfway between Douglas and Castletown in horsedrawn days, flogged off by the brewery years ago as it hasn’t brought in drinkers for decades. It was bought by a local entrepreneur who made millions from contract services to the hospital and prison building schemes -always remarkably well informed and ahead of the contractor queue in such things.
He seemed to be on another winner, setting up a child day care centre on the main road halfway between two major centres of offshore finance activity. Despite family connections which should have brought in the richest rugrats on the island, that also failed. Again – curious.
But there’s something else – either again curious but a total coincidence or worth looking at.
A couple of miles away is Mount Murray, whose history is already rather eventful (see, for example,, and if you really have the time and Now Albert Gubay, the real figure behind Mount Murray, is talking of developing a casino there (see
Of course, we already have an island casino, at the Douglas Hilton, owned by George Ferguson Lacey, who also owns the vacant Castle Mona hotel site and is therefore in a position to quickly develop another nightspot – whenever the heritage and other government grants come through judging by his previous record with other ‘heritage sites’ (Bishopscourt, The Nunnery, Rushen Abbey…).
And Ferguson Lacey is a keen sponsor of various local evangelicals, who even tells folk he once hung out with Billy Graham and Richard Nixon. Curious clash of interests considering the usual religious objection to gambling (and folk enjoying themselves in general).
Similarly, Gubay has been known to court religious interests once or twice in a career originally built on a supermarket chain which flouted the old Sunday trading laws. So take note of the statement in the iomtoday article that: ‘It would be his intention to give 20 per cent of the yearly profits from the casino to worthy causes. A committee would be appointed to decide which causes would benefit.’
I wonder. Could we be in for a bidding war involving two of the island’s most ambitious developers trying to buy off the ‘moral majority’ in the form of the island’s scuzziest religious racketeers?
Whatever happens, if local youth services cannot get basic government grants while six figure sums get thrown at fundamentalist throwbacks for ‘youth outreach’ it's a safe bet the immediate future for Manx youngsters is a bleak one.

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