Blog 24 June 2018Last Saturday my Political Surgery was busy despite the horrible weather early on, and I am grateful to those Constituents who came to see me and to discuss various issues and concerns.

Straight after the Surgery I attended two Constituency meetings and stopped on the way home to watch the Dan Kneen tribute lap. Thereafter, I was then able to take a few hours off in the afternoon.

On Sunday morning Ellen and I headed to Langness to take part in the Big Clean Up, which was going on across the island. Once home, I spent most of Sunday afternoon preparing for this month’s Tynwald Sitting.

In the office for 8am on Monday. At 9.45am I drove into Onchan to attend the Springfield Court coffee morning and the main topic of conversation was the TT Festival.

It isn’t a big group that attends the coffee mornings, but I genuinely enjoy attending the coffee mornings, it takes your mind off other things.

I was back at the office just after 11am and took the opportunity to draft a couple of letters relating to “access rights” after a Constituent contacted me last week.

I also needed to review various correspondence received in relation to the SAVE Report, which went before Tynwald on Tuesday.

Just before 13.00 I went up to the Barrool Suite for two presentations given by the Department of Infrastructure.

The first presentation related to the Active Travel Strategy, which looked at getting people more actively walking or cycling, especially for smaller journeys.

The second presentation was on the island’s Waste Strategies, which lacked detail at this early stage, but I am sure that further details will be made available in the coming weeks and months.

The rest of the afternoon was spent continuing to prepare for Tynwald, along with drafting several notes and a speech relating to the sale of a property by the Manx National Heritage.

I left the office at 17.15 and it was a quick change of clothing before heading down to Peel for the first practice session for this year’s Viking Longboat Race, which is taking place on Saturday 30th June.

Tynwald members have put together a team – I don’t expect us to win, but it should be great fun.

Halfway to Peel I received a call to say the practice session was cancelled, so I headed back home.

In the office for 8am on Tuesday and the first part of the morning was spent responding to various Constituency emails or replying to correspondence received in response to questions raised by me on behalf of Constituents.

Just before 10.30am we headed down to Tynwald Court for this month’s sitting.

The morning session was taken up with 23 Oral Questions and 7 Written Questions, along with a statement by the Policy and Reform Minister, Chris Thomas.

The afternoon session mainly focused around a Motion tabled by the Treasury Minister, which related to “Securing Added Value and Efficiencies” or simply known as the “SAVE Programme”.

The debate lasted just under four hours and there were definitely some passionate speeches on both sides of the argument. Despite the comments made in Tynwald Court by certain individuals, I can assure Constituents that all Tynwald Members have to make difficult decisions on a daily basis on behalf of our Parliament, Departments and Constituents.

In the end Tynwald adopted an amendment brought by Tim Baker, MHK which received the report but did not necessarily endorse any specific proposals, which was fortunate because prior to the amendment the Treasury Minister and Government were heading for a heavy defeat…….

That said, the Policy and Reform Minister did lose a Motion on General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which relates to new regulations on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the EU.

Lawrie Hooper’s gave an excellent speech on GDPR and his depth of knowledge and research certainly put other Members to shame, myself included.

The Tynwald sitting finished at 21.00 and I managed to get home for around 21.25.

Despite Tynwald finishing early, I was back in the office for 8am to catch up with a few things before jumping on a plane at lunchtime to attend the Association of Independent Museums (AIM) National Conference, which was taking place at the British Motor Museum near Stratford Upon-Avon.

The trip was part funded by the MNH, DfE and myself using some of my Tynwald expenses, which are given to Members automatically each month. I will be publishing a copy of my expenses again in September.

At 10am I needed to attend a Committee session. It only lasted around ten minutes, but going into the office on Wednesday was about ensuring that I was up to date with things in and around the office.
I also had to deal with a couple of ongoing Constituent issues but still managed to leave the office at 11.15am and head straight to the airport for a 13.00 flight to Birmingham, then on to a hotel in Stratford-Upon-Avon, ready for the two-day AIM Conference which started on Thursday.

The Association of Independent Museums (AIM) Conference was being held at the British Motor Museum, located not far from Stratford Upon Avon.

I was attending the Conference in a duel capacity – mainly as a Trustee of Manx National Heritage but also representing DfE and the island’s motorsport sector.

After initial registration, the Conference started at 11.15am on Thursday, with an introduction by two of the AIM Directors.

The morning’s presentations then focused mainly on the topic of diversification of people both visiting and staffing museums.

A representative of Derby Museum gave an interesting talk about why diversifying audiences not only promotes equality and social resilience but also should be good business.

I felt that the best presentation was from a woman called Shaz Hussain about getting more people from different backgrounds to work in museums across the UK.

During the lunch break I was able to have a quick look around the British Motor Museum.

The next session was a breakout session, with several options available for the 316 or so delegates to choose from. I took the opportunity to join a tour given by Stephen Laing in which he showed some delegates behind the scenes of the £4 million collection’s centre project completed by the British Motor Museum.

After a short tea break there was a presentation given by Kate Bellamy (ACE Director of Museum) on her work with museums over a ten year period.

The evening session was the AIM Annual Dinner, held at Compton Verney, which is a Grade 1 listed house built in 1714 by Richard Verney, 11th Baron Willoughby de Broke and is set in more than 120 acres of landscape parkland. It was a stunning venue for dinner, after an excellent first day.

Back to the Conference for 9.30am on Friday, ready for day two, and the first session centred mainly around providing financial support for Independent Museums in the UK.

The first breakout session of the day started at 10.30am and I selected “Prospering Boards – towards successful governance”, a presentation by Helen Wilkinson from AIM. It was a good session, especially as the Manx National Heritage appointed a new board of trustees who have brought energy and new ideas within the last 18 months.

After a tea break there was a key note presentation on legal updates for independent museums, which included a section on GDPR – an important topic for all of us currently. There was also a briefing around the introduction of a Values Framework for Museums, along with the four key museum modes (club, forum, temple or visitor attraction).

One of the most popular items of the Conference was an open mic session entitled “Three Minute Museum Fizzers”. Representatives of seven museums made presentations which were then voted on by delegates.

During the lunch break I was able to finish off looking around the British Motor Museum.

After lunch there was a further breakout session so I selected the panel discussion on “One Thing I’d Change about Museums”, which was excellent. Five delegates outlined the one thing they would change in museums today…… Ideas included removing the current board of trustees, customer care, racism in museums and people who try to change history with wrong descriptions or displays.

The final keynote presentation of the Conference was on Entrepreneurial Leadership by Dr. Pegram Harrison.

The evening event took place at Shakespeare’s Birthplace and included a fantastic tour of the house and gardens where he was born and also where he spent the first five years of his marriage with Anne Hathaway.

A wonderful way to finish an excellent Conference, and I feel I have learned a lot about how smaller, independent museums are run, and the challenges they face, particularly with regard to funding.

The weekend will be spent exploring a bit more of the area in and around Stratford, before flying home on Sunday.

I will post a few picture on my two FB Pages shortly….