Blog 26 mar 18

It is fair to say that my calendar is starting to look fairly light over the next couple of weeks, especially as we enjoy the Easter break.

With some good weather ‪on Monday morning‬ and with no meetings or briefings scheduled, I was able to stay at home and start undertaking some chores in the morning.

Unfortunately, the list of jobs in and around our home has certainly built up over the last couple of years, especially with the election and then trying to get to grips with the many different functions involved in the role of being an MHK.

That said, I only managed to get two of the five windows and a gate painted ‪by lunchtime on Monday‬, but hopefully I will get the other windows painted over the Easter weekend and next week, and definitely before the wooden windows in our cottage fall out…

With 2018 TT fortnight less than 60 days away now and other projects still to complete over the next few months, I will need to take full advantage of any good weather we have over the next couple of months to get the jobs done this year.

I also ordered a mini skip that arrived on Thursday, which will certainly keep Ellen and me busy for the weekend break.

Monday afternoon I spent considerable time going through a box full of correspondence, which a Constituent gave me a couple of weeks ago. I also had various reports and statements to read through, but I still managed to finish by 18.30.

Anyway, I was back in the office for ‪8.15am on Tuesday‬ and I spent the first part of the morning trying to catch up. This included printing off various documents, along with the Agenda pack for the DfE meeting ‪on Wednesday morning‬.

Just before ‪10am‬ we headed down to the House of Keys for Tuesday’s sitting, which started with just two oral questions for answer along with a further four written questions for reply.

The Central Registry Bill 2018 had its third reading before we continued to consider the Clauses stages of the Abortion Reform Bill 2018. There were several more Clauses down for debate and change on Tuesday, taking into account any concerns raised by Members two weeks ago.

The Anti-Money Laundering and other Financial Crime (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2018 had its Second and Third reading. There also were a couple of Motions tabled by Members, but the House of Keys sitting finished at around 12.30.

After lunch I managed to catch up with a few correspondence and emails before heading up to the Barool Suite at 13.30 for a CPD training session on the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and the overall responsibility for Data Controllers, which will include MHKs.

Unfortunately, I was only able to attend the first 30 minutes as I needed to be at DfE for 14.00, in order to shortlist candidates for the interview stage of the new Visit Agency and the role of Chairman.

Once I was back at my desk I needed to catch up with several Constituency matters relating to potholes, blocked drains and a housing application.

I also started to go through my DfE agenda pack, which runs into 187 pages this time, but only managed to cover the first 10 pages.

I left the office at 17.25 and after a quick tea I headed down to the Cronk Y Voddy Men’s Club for a game of Billiards, which I have only played twice…..

The match started at 19.30 and it was a fantastic evening.This annual match is between the men of the Cronk Y Voddy Social Club and a team put together by Phil Gawne, which included a number of current MHKs.

I managed to get home for 23.10.

An early ‪start on Wednesday‬ morning as I continued to work through my DfE agenda pack ‪from 7am‬.

I still managed to get into the office ‪at 8.15am‬ in order to finish off reading through the DfE pack and to write up any relevant notes.

Just after 9.15am I walked over to DfE with Tim Crookall, MLC for the usual Political meeting with the Minister and the Board meeting. There were also a couple of excellent presentations, including one from the FuEL Group on the future of the Isle of Man…

Definitely one of my favorite briefings so far, especially when I love technology and how the world might look in 15, 20 or even 25 years.

There was also an update on the new DfE website that will be going live shortly and a briefing on Locate.im.

The board meeting finished at 13.00 and from there I went back to the office briefly to collect some paperwork before walking down to the Sea Terminal for the Social Housing meeting with the DOI Minister, DOI Officers, Political Member, along with the Director of Social Service.

I have raised various questions over the years as an Onchan Commissioner and now as an MHK in the House of Keys and Tynwald on behalf of tenants who are paying more than 35% of the available income just on Social Housing rent, which does include any local authority rates due.

I have posted a separate Facebook message on this item, in order to reduce the size of this week’s Blog, but I was extremely grateful for the information I received back from the meeting.

In summary, the meeting confirmed that after pensioners have paid their Social Housing rent (maximum that can be claimed is up to £116 per week) they are still guaranteed to have at least £171 per week to meet their living expenses, but this could be as much as £186 per week if they get any state additional pension, occupational pension or personal pension.

In other words, any Social Housing tenant above pensionable age who currently is left with less than £186 per week once they have paid their rent needs to contact Social Services in order to claim any additional money they may be entitled to.

The meeting finished at 14.30 I then needed to rush back to the office as I was having an iPad melt down. On the positive side GTS, the Government’s technology guys, were able to schedule a meeting relatively quickly. On the negative side, my iPad needed a full factory reset and I lost a lot of data, notes and photos etc – not a good afternoon.

The rest of the afternoon was spent putting together a presentation and information ahead of a meeting scheduled on Wednesday night, along with catching up with correspondence and making several calls.

I left the office at 17.25 and it was another quick tea before driving to St. John Ambulance Head Quarters as I was invited to attend the Isle of Man Self-Catering Accommodation Association.

The meeting started at 19.00 and I was able to give Association members an overview of the new Visit Isle of Man Agency, which is being set up by DfE.

I also answered various questions from the members, but there were a few items that I will be following up on behalf of the Association.

Finally got home for 21.00 and after sending a few e-mails I called it a day at 22.30.

Thursday was a correspondence today – I was in the office from 8.15am and other than popping to M & S and taking Ellen out for noodles at lunchtime I was at my desk all day until I left the office at 16.45.

The day went incredibly quickly and I spent a lot of time on the phone, especially dealing with one Constituency matter relating to a debt.

I also had various discussions with my colleagues throughout the day and took the opportunity to draft a number of social media posts and correspondence etc.

A very pleasant day.

I was also able to enjoy the Bank Holiday, Good Friday…

The morning was spent tidying up our outbuilding and filling up a mini skip with rubbish, which didn’t actually take too long. Towards lunchtime I took Ellen for some well deserved lunch at the Ticket Hall, before meeting up with what appeared to be the rest of the Isle of Man in B & Q.

From there we headed into Onchan to attend the Art Exhibition with over 300 items on display over the Easter Holidays.

The rest of the afternoon was spent just taking it easy and enjoying the break.

I have a few things to catch up with but hopefully we will get an opportunity to go for a walk on Sunday.