As I post this week’s Blog, the 2018 Isle of Man TT Festival is almost upon us…..

At 18.20 this evening (Sat 26th May) the first bikes should be heading down Bray Hill towards the Quarterbridge – it is amazing just how quickly the past 12 months have flown by….

I am sure that accommodation providers and campsites will be filling up over the next few days, if not already busy. Let’s hope everyone has a safe TT Festival and the weather continues to be fine throughout race week.

It is fair to say that a few big names are missing from this year’s start line, but it should still be a fantastic festival and two weeks of top racing.

I also take this opportunity to thank the army of volunteers, including the Isle of Man Marshals Association for giving up their valuable time to ensure that we can deliver the race schedule.

My calendar over the next couple of weeks is also relatively light as I have family visiting next week and I will be at the Grandstand for most of race week, in order to escort the Lieutenant Governor, Sir Richard Gozney and Lady Gozney.

Hopefully I will also speak to various people in and around the Paddock.

Anyway, back to this week and Monday was one of those days when I was in and out of the office all day. I arrived at the office at 8.15am and with having very few scheduled meetings this week my focus switched to catching up with a few personal projects, which have been on hold for a couple of months.

These included reviewing current Isle of Man legislation relating to the “Right to Die” or “Assisted Dying”, along with reviewing the last House of Keys debate, which happened in February 2015.

I also took the opportunity to read through various articles relating to Guernsey who voted against introducing any new legislation only last week.

I had expected the vote in Guernsey to be a lot closer that the 24 votes against and 14 votes for.

I will certainly need to continue to weigh up the pro and cons very carefully, along with speaking to various people before I even consider bringing a Private Member’s Bill.

Back in 2015 the current Speaker Mr. Juan Watterson wasn’t given leave by the House of Keys to introduce a Bill and the vote was lost 19 to 5, so it is a massive hill to climb even to get leave to introduce.

I was also able to draft a several letters and emails before leaving the office at 11.30am to drive into Onchan for a Constituent meeting relating to a parking issue.

From there I drove back into Douglas for a meeting with the Department of Infrastructure, which also related to another Constituent issue that I have been trying to resolve for over a year.

I then headed home for a couple of hours to complete a few personal matters before returning to 15.30, in order to catch with e-mails etc.

I left the office at 17.20.

In the office for 8.15am on Tuesday and with a very short House of Keys Order Paper, I was able to continue going through my DfE Agenda Pack ahead of the Department meeting on Wednesday.

Just before 10am we headed down to the House of Keys Chamber for the sitting, which only had four oral questions for reply and a further three for written response.

The sitting only lasted 35 minutes, but it will be remembered far more because of Ray Harmer’s mobile phone or iPad going off as Kate Beecroft, MHK was just about to ask question 2…….

Suddenly, the Chamber was full of a chorus of “She Loves You, yeah, yeah, yeah” by the Beatles, which was extremely funny and perfectly timed, if not a little embarrassing for the Minister.

Straight after the sitting I did a Manx Radio interview relating for the forthcoming TT fortnight.

I was actually planning to take the rest of the day off to do some painting, but instead I took the opportunity to continue working on a couple of projects already outlined above.

I also needed to draft some correspondence relating to something I am scheduling to undertake in June, July and August in Onchan – again, full details will be given in later Blogs.

In addition, I needed to deal with a few constituent issues, including one that related to student grants, which was a follow up from Saturday’s Political Surgery.

I left the office at 17.15 and once home I received some correspondence and a petition from Onchan residents that required a suitable response to be drafted.

I finally finished at 20.00.

In the office for 8am on Wednesday and with my letter template already drafted I was able to send out several letters relating to the petition I received from Onchan Constituents the night before.

Just after 9am I walked over to DfE for the fortnightly meeting with the Minister, which is followed by the Department meeting.

With no presentations this week we were able to get straight into the agenda pack, which was relatively straightforward.
I was back at my desk for around 12 noon, which gave me an opportunity to go through various documents and reports before the Public Accounts Committee meeting.

I also printed off documentation relating to a medical case ahead of a meeting scheduled for Friday morning.

At 14.00 we went down to the Committee room for a Public Accounts Committee meeting and the first section was with Sir Jonathan Michael who is currently carrying out an Independent Review of the Isle of Man Healthcare Systems.

Sir Jonathan is very experienced and I am certainly looking forward to reading his report in due course. The second part of the meeting was with Stephen Hind, the Government Audit Advisory.

The meeting finished at 16.20 and once back at my desk I was able to catch up with correspondence and return a couple of missed calls.

I left the office at 17.15.

After tea I needed to respond to a couple of items of correspondence but still managed to finish for 19.00.

I was in the office early on Thursday at 7.45am, which gave me a perfect opportunity to carry on with the personal projects and to return a few calls.

At 9.45am Tim Crookall, MLC and I headed out to look around the Hooded Ram and the Bushy’s Beer tents. We also took the opportunity to walk around the Grandstand, Paddock, Hailwood Centre, VIP and beer tent areas, not forgetting the Artisan Food tent, along with speaking to various stakeholders.

I was very impressed with what I saw and I am sure that visitors and locals will appreciate the better lay out with regard to the facilities available, especially when it comes to food, drink and entertainment.

The change of location for the new beer tent could be very popular if the weather remains dry for the fortnight.

It wasn’t scheduled, but Paul Moulton of MTTV asked me if we could do a quick interview at the Grandstand ahead of this year’s TT festival, which I was happy to do.

I know the weather makes a big difference, but walking around the Grandstand, Paddock and the fields on Thursday morning, it definitely looks very different from last year.

News was also breaking about a so-called meeting between the Chief Minister, Howard Quayle and the five recently elected MLCs.

The headline on Manx Radio said the Chief Minister summoned them to his office earlier this week, where he told them not to ’cause trouble’ or ‘rock the boat’.

In response, Mr Quayle claims the meeting was to discuss differences between the two branches of parliament.

As an MHK I certainly haven’t complained about any of my MLC colleagues – in fact I would say they are doing an excellent job so far……

At 12.30 Tynwald Members were given a presentation through DHSC on wellbeing within our Communities, and how we can work across Government, the Private and Voluntary Sectors.

The presentation finished just 14.00 and from there I headed straight into Onchan for a meeting with a group of Constituents regarding some planning conditions.

The meeting lasted around 90 minutes but it definitely was one of those Constituent items for which I just cannot find a satisfactory closure for the residents.

From there I went straight back into Douglas to park up, before running over to DfE to sign some documents.

Back to the office for 16.00 to send a few emails and to have a quick briefing with the House of Keys Speaker, Juan Watterson relating to assisted dying and the 2015 debate.

I left the office at 17.15.

I was in two minds whether to go into the office on Friday as my 10am meeting to discuss a historical medical case was cancelled at the last minute.

This meant that my only meeting on Friday was scheduled for 14.00.

In the end I went into the office for 8am, but for no other reason then to ensure that I was fully up to date before I try and take a few days off next week.

That said, Constituents can still contact me via my mobile or email during the TT fortnight.

The first job was to pay a few bills and to book the car-hire, along with other items relating to the Conference I will be attending next month.

The rest of the morning was spent sat at my desk either reading through various reports, drafting a few letters and having a general tidy up in the office.

The Tynwald Committee Report relating to Land Registration was one report I went through and I also continued to read through the Isle of Man immigration guidelines.

Before I realised it was 12 noon, so took the opportunity of a quiet day to go with Ellen to our favorite Noodle Bar at the beginning of Athol Street.

It was a very good lunch, especially when we were joined by a couple of Onchan Constituents. We definitely put the world to rights as we discussed various topics.

Back to the office at 13.15 to carry on with the prep work ahead of the DfE workshop amongst the Political Members, which started at 14.00.

The workshop lasted around 90 minutes and once I was back at my desk I returned a couple of missed calls.
From there I went straight back into Douglas to park up, before running over to DfE to sign some documents.

Back to the office for 16.00 to send a few emails and to have a quick briefing with the House of Keys Speaker, Juan Watterson relating to assisted dying and the 2015 debate.

I left the office at 17.15.

I was in two minds whether to go into the office on Friday as my 10am meeting to discuss a historical medical case was cancelled at the last minute.

This meant that my only meeting on Friday was scheduled for 14.00.

In the end I went into the office for 8am, but for no other reason then to ensure that I was fully up to date before I try and take a few days off next week.

That said, Constituents can still contact me via my mobile or email during the TT fortnight.

The first job was to pay a few bills and to book the car-hire, along with other items relating to the Conference I will be attending next month.

The rest of the morning was spent sat at my desk either reading through various reports, drafting a few letters and having a general tidy up in the office.

The Tynwald Committee Report relating to Land Registration was one report I went through and I also continued to read through the Isle of Man immigration guidelines.

Before I realised it was 12 noon, so took the opportunity of a quiet day to go with Ellen to our favorite Noodle Bar at the beginning of Athol Street.

It was a very good lunch, especially when we were joined by a couple of Onchan Constituents. We definitely put the world to rights as we discussed various topics.

Back to the office at 13.15 to carry on with the prep work ahead of the DfE workshop amongst the Political Members, which started at 14.00.

The workshop lasted around 90 minutes and once I was back at my desk I returned a couple of missed calls.

One call was from a couple of trainee journalists from the Netherlands who are doing a feature on the TT. I did a quick 15 minute interview relating to the TT and its history.

The rest of the afternoon was spent starting to go through the Eastern Plan, which was released on Friday afternoon. There are a lot of documents to go through, definitely a job for the weekend.

I also needed to deal with an urgent planning matter relating to a tourism site, which required several calls to be made.

I finally left the office at 17.10.

Hopefully a quiet weekend, but I do have a Constituent meeting on Sunday morning.