Blog 19 Aug 18Straight into my Blog this week and Monday definitely went by in a flash….

I was in the office for 8am and it was very quiet so I was able to get my head down and to continue with various projects and administrative tasks.

The first job on Monday was to collect all the various documents and information relating to an ongoing dispute between a Government Department(s) and a group of residents in Onchan relating to overgrown trees.

Over the past eighteen months I have attended various meetings and drafted more correspondence than I care to remember, in order to help find a suitable solution, without success.

The only option left was for me to submit a formal Complaint to Onchan District Commissioners in accordance with the High Trees(s) and Hedges Act.

It took me around two hours to put everything together, so fingers crossed that something actually happens on behalf of local residents.

Just before 10am I walked to DfE for the tourism meeting with the Chairman of the Visit Agency and the Head of Tourism. Definitely not the easiest meeting that I have had since being elected, but various things needed to be aired from all sides….

I guess the new DfE Agencies are still bedding in and it will take a little bit of time for things to settle down, but it is important that everyone understands their individual roles and responsibilities.

I am sure if you ask any MHK they will say that this job isn’t easy, and it does feel like you’re stepping on eggshells or toes, etc at certain times. There is certainly a very fine line of accountability, especially when fulfilling your promise to the electorate to represent their best views wherever possible.

As a Backbench MHK your role is to ensure that you scrutinise and hold the Government and the Executive to account for decisions being made.

On a Department level you are trying to ensure that the best decisions are being made in a particular sector or industry and some of those decisions will require input and approval from Treasury, Council of Ministers and / or Tynwald.

There was an article under the letters section in the Examiner on Tuesday this week by Peter Karran who represented Onchan for many many years, so I do choose my words very carefully.

Unfortunately, I feel certain lines are now being blurred as this administration is being held accountable for the mistakes (if established) by previous administration(s), which is totally unacceptable.

The island elected 12 new MHKs in September 2016 and none of them were involved in the historical events that Kate Beecroft, MHK has brought into the public domain since leaving the Council of Ministers early on this year.

As an MHK I am more than happy to be held accountable for the decisions I have made on behalf of my Constituents and the people of this island during this administration, include the purchase of the Steam Packet etc.

I have always believed that MHKs have a fundamental duty to explain how certain decisions are being made on behalf of the people they represent, because on occasion the headlines don’t always explain how difficult that final decision might have been….

Unfortunately, I can’t comment on how MHKs worked in previous administrations, but I do genuinely wish that the wider public could see some of the meetings that I have actually attended over the past eighteen months.

Neither can I comment on the Council of Ministers or other Government Departments, but in respect of DfE and the DHSC there is always a continuing line of questioning and discussion around the decisions being made.

Anyway back to Monday – the DfE meeting superseded the two MNH site visits I had scheduled during in the morning.

From there I went straight into a meeting with Lawrie Hooper, MHK, Visit IOM Chairman and a DfE officer to discuss the Financial Assistance Scheme.

The meeting lasted around an hour and I was back at my desk for 12.15, which gave me time to add the last couple of documents to the complaint form before submitting it to Onchan Commissioners for consideration.

Other than a couple of small meetings with colleagues and one with the DfE Minister the rest of the afternoon was spent at my desk going though various documents relating to the Eastern Area Plan.

In fact it was a bit of a surprise to realise it was 17.10 and time for home.

Once home I needed to send a few urgent emails and to review some Political Meeting notes. I only stopped for around 15 minutes to eat my tea before carrying on with various things including the Steam Packet, which will be discussed my the IOM Visit Agency later on in the week.

The difficultly with quiet periods is that you end up working on multiple projects and ideas, which continue to snowball. It is like standing for the House of Keys when you start to pull together ideas and thoughts from everywhere……
I finally finished at 20.00 after what I felt was a successful day.

Back in to the office for 8am, in order to catch up with a few correspondence items which had come in overnight.

At 9.40am I headed back into Onchan for a Constituency meeting in relation to an ongoing planning issue which I have been involved with for over 12 months.

Planning issues remain one of the most difficult parts of this role, but it is more frustrating when the planning department simply cannot keep up with correspondence, complaints and enforcement, which is a serious concern.

I have spoken to a couple of my colleagues on the matter and remain hopeful that this will improve over the next couple of months.

Back to the office for 11.40am to catch up with correspondence, phone calls and to continue to work on various projects.

I also had a couple of long calls relating to the Eastern Area Plan and one particular site.

At 14.00 I went upstairs to the Barrool Suite for a presentation given by Courtenay Heading entitled “HPV Vaccination Debate”, which I did struggle to understand, given the amount of data, comments and allegations being made….

I googled the topic later on and that gave me a better understanding of it.

I left the meeting slightly early at 15.00, in order to continue working on the projects before leaving the office at 17.10.

In the office for 7.50am on Wednesday and after sending several emails I went through the Landlord and Tenant Act 1976 on behalf of an Island resident.

The resident needed some advice on a landlord dispute and fortunately the Act is very clear on the tenant’s rights when renewing a Lease.

I then started to review my notes relating to the Festival of Motorcycling before driving up to Manx Radio for an interview ahead of this year’s events.

Peter Maddocks, Chairman of the MGP also joined me, which gave a more balanced Manx Radio interview.

From there I went straight into Onchan for a Constituent meeting relating to Noble’s Hospital, which will require a couple of follow up emails.

I have been in communication with the Constituents for several months regarding this repeating problem, and I was pleasantly surprised when the Constituents gave me a wonderful Fruit Loaf as I was leaving.

It was very much appreciated and Ellen and I have been enjoying it after tea over the last few days – although I am trying to lose some weight so I really mustn’t eat any more cake after this for a while!

I was back at my desk for 11.50am and I took the opportunity to stop for lunch.

The rest of the afternoon was spent at my desk going through various bits of reports and documents relating to the Steam Packet ahead of a Visit Isle of Man open discussion on Thursday.

I also spent an hour or so on the phone going through various things relating to department and constituency matters.

I left the office 17.10 and after tea, which included a couple of slices of the delicious Fruit Loaf I continued to work on the Steam Packet project, along with drafting a few more e-mails.

I finally finished at around 19.30.

Back in the office for 7.45am on Thursday morning and it was straight into the Steam Packet project, which included reviewing the User Agreement and their website, looking at fares and special offers.

At 9.20am I walked down to the Sefton Hotel for the Visit Isle of Man Agency meeting, which started at 10am but members gathered from around 9.40am.

It was a very positive meeting and there was a long discussion amongst the members around the Steam Packet User Agreement, which I have been asking for since the Agency was originally set up.

It is vitally important that the island’s tourism sector has a greater input to any new User Agreement, in order to ensure the Isle of Man can increase the visitor numbers over the next several years.

The meeting finished at 11.50am, which meant I was back at my desk for lunchtime in order to catch up with emails.

After lunch I spent the afternoon continuing to work on one particular project, which I managed to finish by 16.30.

Hopefully, I will get a copy of this correspondence into the public domain before the end of September, if not early October.

I left the office at 17.10.

In the office slightly later on Friday at 8.10am and the first job was to draft and send out a couple of letters.

At 9.20 I headed to Tesco to do some shopping before dropping things off and driving in to Onchan for a meeting with a former colleague, which started at 11am.

The meeting was a general catch up, which I fully appreciated as it gave me a good insight into certain things happening in Onchan at the moment.

Back to the office for a quick catch up with a colleague before we walked to DfE for our informal workshop discussion. We discussed the Eastern Area Plan, and again the session was an open discussion about the department’s view going forward.
Finally got back my desk for 14.20 and the rest of the afternoon was spent catching up with various things.

One item related to Diabetics and getting relevant documents signed, which definitely raised a few questions.

I left the office slightly early at 16.35, in order to grab a quick tea.

At 17.50 Ellen and I headed west to Peel to attend a function at the House of Manannan, which was launching an exhibition entitled “Follow a Star – Sir Norman Wisdom”.

It was fantastic to have Sir Norman’s son Nick Wisdom on hand during the evening to formally open the exhibition, which will run until 20th January 2019.

A lot of memorabilia on show, with many items which Sir Norman collected himself throughout his long career, which his son Nick has beautifully displayed, well supported by the professional MNH staff.

A great trip down memory lane – definitely worth a visit!

On Saturday I have my monthly Political Surgery between 10am and 11.30am at the Community Hub in Onchan.

On Saturday evening Ellen and I will finally get to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Gaiety Theatre. The reviews for the show are fantastic and I am really looking forward to seeing it…..

Hopefully we will get an opportunity to go for a walk on Sunday, along with visiting a friend for Sunday dinner.