Blog 2 April 18After a few enjoyable days off over the Easter Bank Holiday filling a mini-skip and painting a table and chairs etc for the summer period (that’s if the good weather ever arrives), there was a clear change in the weather forecast on Easter Monday.

I was also hoping to take this week off to paint the remaining windows and the cottage, but unfortunately the Isle of Man was hit with continuous heavy rain, coastal flooding and high winds throughout Easter Monday. Luckily we didn’t get any of the snow on lower ground unlike the UK that received several inches of snow once again.

So Monday was a lazy day overall watching TV, but I still needed to draft a couple of e-mails throughout the day. I also took the opportunity to read through a couple of reports, but nothing too exciting.

What I didn’t realise at the time was that one single topic would dominate the media headlines all week – that topic was the latest tourism figures, which would receive local and UK coverage.

Unfortunately, the latest Isle of Man Passenger Survey showed a decline of 8.7% or around 25,000 fewer visitors to the Isle of Man in 2017, the largest decline for over 10 years…..

Personally, I maybe should have been quicker out of the blocks on this item, in order to question the data both publicly and privately, instead of just pouring through facts and figures over a few days looking for a reason.

The report definitely should not have been put in the public domain at 5pm on a Thursday evening just before the Easter Break, and I can only hope that the Cabinet Office learn a valuable lesson from that mistake going forward.

Anyway, with no change in the weather on Tuesday morning I took the opportunity to go into the office for a couple of hours. Like most things in this role, the couple of hours I was planning to stay in the office turned into several hours and a very long day.

I left the house at 7.50am only to find a Constituent parked outside, which was definitely something different, if not a little strange….

Over the past few weeks, I have been trying to help a Constituent with an ongoing planning application, which is taking considerable time for a decision to be made as it now requires the decision to be made by CoMin.

I asked the Constituent to follow me to the office and we spent the next hour or so going through the application and making several calls to resolve the outside issues and concerns.

The day then just unfolded and before I realised it was 17.15 and time to go home.

With no meetings or briefings, I was at my desk all today drafting various correspondence, including one to Onchan Commissioners relating to Social Housing Tenants and possibly introducing a Rent Rebate Scheme, especially for those tenants paying more than 30% or 35% of their income just on rent, which include any rates due to the Local Authority.

I also dealt with a couple of TT related matters and drafted a couple of Social Media posts regarding the sudden drop in the island’s tourism figures.

It is surprising how one single item can create so much media and social media attention, which meant that I had to spend considerable time on Tuesday going through the tourism data, reports and articles over the past 12 months – just in case I could identify any areas of concern.

Once at home I posted my initial comments questioning the methodology of the Passenger Survey report, which does appear to go against significant and positive data received from the industry themselves. Most of Tuesday evening was spent responding to comments relating to the tourism figures for 2016/17.

Chris Robertshaw, MHK also did an interview with MTTV, which went live on Tuesday in which he made various comments on the figures and data, and asked for the DfE Minister to be sacked.

As the week went on, the findings of the Report would be seriously questioned.

I managed to call it a day at 22.30 but I am extremely grateful for people taking the time to add comments relating to the Isle of Man tourism industry, which has certainly got people talking.

The Isle of Man was still a very wet location on Wednesday morning, so again I went into the office for 8am as there is always something that needs to done.

The first task was to send out the draft letters from Tuesday, along with printing off and reviewing some additional Isle of Man Passenger Survey Reports for the past ten years.

From looking at the data there was a sudden decrease in the first and fourth quarter of 2017 and this will require further investigation and to identify any key issues, but trying to address some of the negative headlines has certainly taken up considerable amount of my time this week.

I also started to print off this month’s Tynwald Order Paper, which has a few interesting items for discussion.

At lunchtime I headed into Onchan to visit a number of locations to review some potholes and damage to roads which have been reported to me over the past couple of weeks.

Despite the weather, I still managed to take some pictures, which I submitted through the DOI App.

From there I headed home at around 14.00 and I took the opportunity to start reading through a couple of Tynwald Reports, but it was an easy finish to the day.

The weather finally changed on Thursday, but it was still too cold and damp to work outside so I headed into the office for 8.10am.

On paper this week this was meant to be a straightforward and simple week with an opportunity to just take some time off, but things don’t always follow a straight line in this role.

With the sudden drop in the island tourism it continues to be high on the agenda in the local media and social media, and therefore I spent considerable time again on Thursday morning on the phone speaking to various people.

I also needed to follow up on correspondence I sent to Onchan District Commissioners requesting the implementation of a rent rebate scheme for those tenants that provide evidence that they are paying more 30% or 35% of the available income just on Social Housing Rent.

I also took the time to review the DfE Executive Agencies Board Member packs and application forms before they are posted online.

Just before 11am I walked to DfE for a meeting with the Deputy CEO, Carl Hawker in which we discussed potential jobs coming online over the next six months. There are nearly 500 jobs in the pipeline in respect of banking, insurance and e-gaming and a further 500 possibly coming down the line.

The meeting was scheduled for me to look at the evidence and to review my own manifesto pledge, which is for the Isle of Man to implement a fair but strong work permit system for all, but at the same time ensure businesses are not prevented from recruiting quality staff that the Manx Economy will desperately need over the next several years.

As a nation we cannot ignore the fact that this island will need additional workers, in order to help generate additional Tax and NI contributions and support other key sectors.

I pride myself on my election Manifesto pledges and I want to ensure that Manx workers secure the best opportunities available within the island work environment – therefore I will need to review any additional changes to the work permit system very carefully going forward.

That meeting finished just before lunchtime and I went back to the office briefly to collect a few things and I then took the opportunity to walk home, which took me about 50 minutes.

Walking home in my normal shoes does make me think of the former President of Tynwald, Noel Cringle and the fact that he always walked in the Parish Walk in leather shoes!

Listening to music or Talking Heads on demand certainly helps you unwind as you stroll home…..

Once home I sent several e-mails and made a couple of calls, but pretty much took the rest of the day off.

Back in the office for 8am on Friday and I spent the first hour drafting some notes for my tourism interview with Manx Radio.

At 9am I walked over to DfE for a scheduled tourism marketing meeting, but we also took the opportunity to discuss the latest tourism figures.

At 10am I walked to the Tynwald Buildings to collect my car before driving up to Manx Radio for an interview relating to tourism.

Back to the office for 11am, which gave me an opportunity to print off the rest of the Tynwald Order Paper, along with catching up with correspondence.

Ellen took me out for lunch at the Courthouse, which was very nice – no surprises that I had my usual duck wrap and chips….

Back to the office briefly to collect my stuff and a quick meeting with the DfE Minister before walking home just after 14.00.

I arranged home for 15.00 and after returning a couple of calls and sending a few emails, I managed to call it a day for 16.00.

I will need to spend some time over the weekend preparing for a busy week ahead, especially going though some CVs and Application forms for the new tourism Agency, along with preparing for an Oral Evidence session next week.