The mud slinging over the sale of the Steam Packet has continued over the past ten days, and now the Treasury Minister Alf Cannan, MHK has weighed in to the debate.

As I mentioned in last week’s Blog, Peter Karran sent a letter in to the Isle of Man Examiner newspaper outlining his concerns over the sale of the Steam Packet.

In last week’s Manx Independent Mr. Cannan then published a response also in the letter section of the paper, which outlined some of the comments and policies from the LibVan Party in years gone by.

As an Onchan MHK, I can again only confirm that I haven’t seen any evidence to date to show that the purchase of the Steam Packet was not in the best interests of the people of the Isle of Man over the next 20 or 30 years – even with a price tag of £124 million.

I have always disagreed with the timing of the purchase, but I fully agree that the island had no option but to secure our links for future generations.

That said, there are still a lot of discussions to have around securing the Pier Head Site in Liverpool and to ensure that the infrastructure and facilities are in place by January 2020.

I guess only time will tell if this administration made one of the bravest decisions on behalf of the Manx people and this island.

It is also worth mentioning that the Isle of Man did not have the funds to purchase the Steam Packet in the 1980s or in the early part of the 1990s, so this was the first genuine opportunity for the Isle of Man to secure our sea services and to avoid a potential costly legal dispute in 2026.

Going through this week’s activities, my Political Surgery last Saturday was extremely busy, with the first Constituent calling in at 9.30am and the last one leaving at 11.40am.

A big thank you to everyone who came along and my apologies if you had to wait a few minutes to see me.

Once home I needed to draft various correspondence from the surgery visits, but I was able to finish for around 15.00 on Saturday.

The Isle of Man Festival of Motorcycling got underway last Saturday night, but the event has been plagued by bad weather in the first week, along with various other issues that have delayed road closure.

The Clerk of the Course, Gary Thompson and his team, along with the DfE and Manx Motorcycle Club teams who have done an excellent job in extreme difficulties.

Also a massive thank you to the army of volunteers for their continued support this week, it certainly hasn’t been easy.

Back in the office for 8am on Monday, but my calendar was looking fairly light this week, which was perfect as it allowed me to complete a couple of ongoing projects.

One of the projects that I have been working on over the past couple of weeks is the Eastern Area Plan, which had a lot of paperwork or historic reports attached to it, along with going though previous Eastern Area Plans.

I spent a good part of last week putting together various bits of correspondence, which I am hoping to submit as part of the ongoing Consultation into the Eastern Area Plan.

The first part of Monday was spent drafting a cover letter, which will support my submission to the Cabinet Office.

Just before 10am I drove into Onchan to attend a coffee morning at Springfield Court, which I always enjoy. It isn’t massively attended, but I genuinely enjoy the topics of discussion and the general catch up with residents.

As I was leaving the coffee morning, a Constituent wanted a quick word, but this meant I was 15 minutes late for my next meeting with the Southern 100 Club at DfE that was due to start at 11.15am.

Back at my desk for 12.35 and after lunch I started to go though the DfE Agenda Pack ahead of our meeting on Wednesday.

Other than answering various emails etc, the rest of the afternoon was spent at my desk starting to put together around 400 letters, which I intended to deliver on Thursday and Friday.

I am happy to confirm that I paid for the printing costs, paper, envelopes and labels etc myself……

I left the office at 17.10 and once home I continued to put together some of the letters, along with drafting a few e-mails relating to Constituent matters.

Finally finished at around 20.30.

Back in to the office at 8am on Tuesday and the day started with me finishing off the last 70 or so letters.

I also needed to draft a couple of other pieces of correspondence, along with going through the rest of the DfE Agenda Pack.

Once those tasks were finished I then discussed the East Area Plan and particular site with a colleague, before taking full advantage of a quiet day and taking the opportunity to walk home, which took about 50 minutes.

It certainly gave me some practice ahead of the sponsored walk from Douglas to Peel next month on behalf of the Manx Blind Welfare.

I managed to get home for around 13.00.

I spent some time in the afternoon going through tourism figures and information, and there was the usual stream of emails coming in throughout the afternoon.

I also had a read through an additional paper for the DfE Board Meeting, but I was still able to finish for 17.00.

Back into the office for 8am on Wednesday for what was a very busy day.

The first job was to go though some data and information relating to the one of the papers on the DfE Agenda.

Tim Crookall, MLC and I then walked over to DfE for our fortnightly Political meeting with the Minister, which gave us an opportunity to discuss the agenda and to highlight any concerns we may have on a political level.

At 10am we went into the Boardroom for what was considered a heavy agenda.

The meeting finished at 13.20, and the time I got back to the office I only had around 15 minutes to grab a quick sandwich before my 14.00 meeting, which was with a good friend and former MLC.

It was good to catch up and we were able to discuss a couple of ongoing issues relating to Onchan.

The meeting finished at 15.00 and I then spent the next couple of hours either on the phone or trying to clear my in-box, which was filling up fast once again.

I left the office at 17.00 and after another quick tea, I drafted several more emails before going through a DfE tourism paper on the autumn 2018 advertising campaign.

I initially finished for 19.00 but received an urgent email at around 22.30 relating to the Patient Transfer Service and a cancelled Flybe flight, which required a follow-up call and an email drafted to DHSC for response.

As I put in my correspondence to the Minister, I felt that Flybe and the DHSC have a duty of care towards all Patient Transfers from leaving the Isle of Man until they return safely home.

When flights are cancelled, which is happening quite regularly at the moment, there should be an emergency number for patients to contact, not simply a message asking patients to contact Flybe customer services…..

On Thursday I was in the office for around 8am and I went straight into admin and emails, but I wasn’t planning to stay in the office for long on Thursday.

However, I received a call, which came out of the blue about something that could have had a serious effect on Friday’s afternoon practice.

Unfortunately, the weather for the Festival of Motorcycle this week has been terrible , which has meant there has been very little practice actually taking place around the TT course.

Therefore, we had very little option but to activate the emergency practice sessions on Thursday and Friday.

From there I spent around 25 minutes on the phone talking to the Motorsport team, in order to find a solution to the problem, which related to Douglas Crematorium and a service being held at 13.15 on Friday.

Fortunately, the team found a satisfactory solution to the problem.

The weather on Thursday was showers and I still left the office at 10.15am to go home to grab a coat and hat, in order to start delivering 400 letters in and around Onchan.

Despite me getting soaked several times, I still managed to deliver all 400 letters in 3 hours 15 minutes and according to my GPS watch, I walked just over 9.6 miles in that time.

I hate to think how many miles I actually walked during the 2016 House of Keys Election.

A massive thank you to 3 or 4 Constituents who invited me in during the periods of very heavy rainfall.

I finally got home at 14.40 totally wrecked, very wet and extremely tired – but with an element of satisfaction.

After a quick shower and something to eat I started to work through around 35 e-mails sitting in my in-box.

I finished at 17.00 and after tea I needed to respond to a few more emails received before finally finishing at 20.30.

I also received a very positive reply from the DHSC in respect of the Patient Transfer concerns, which I raised on behalf of the Constituents on Wednesday. Hopefully, anyone leaving the island in the future will receive further information, just in case their flight is cancelled.

A big thank you to Malcolm Couch, Mike Quinn and team for the positive way they have dealt with these concerns.

I went back into the office at 8.10am, but only briefly to collect some paperwork and to put together an additional 150 letters. Once again to avoid any doubt, I paid for the printing, paper and envelopes etc.

Anyway, I managed to get the letters put together just before 10am.

From there I walked over to the Manx Museum for a photo with Ben and Tom Birchall who had sold their winning Sidecar Machine to the Manx Museum.

This particular machine has had eight TT victories, along with becoming the first crew to exceed an average lap of 118mph. They also became the first sidecar team to ever lap the mountain course in under 19 minutes.

The Mansfield born duo dominated the 3-wheel races at the 2018 TT in the sidecar outfit they designed and built themselves.

At around 10.30am I headed into Onchan to deliver the 150 letters, which took a couple of hours.

I finally got home for 13.15 and after catching up with emails and a couple of phone calls, I took the opportunity to take a couple of hours off.

Towards 17.00 I answered any remaining emails before finishing for the day.

Late on Friday evening, the Manx Motor Cycle Club issued a press release confirming that the experienced rider Alan ‘Bud’ Jackson died following an accident at the Creg ny Baa during Thursday’s qualifying session for the Classic TT Races.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.

It really has been a terrible year for road racing……

On Saturday I will be at the Grandstand escorting His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor, but I am hoping to get an opportunity to watch some of the racing, along with speaking to various people involved in the event.