Blog 8 July 18The Isle of Man celebrated its National Day this week, which is usually observed on 5th July, just in case anyone is reading this Blog off island or further afield.

The island’s legislature, Tynwald meets in St John’s instead of its usual meeting place located in Douglas. Part of the process is held in the Royal Chapel and the other part is in the open air on the adjacent Tynwald Hill.

All Bills that have received Royal Assent are promulgated on Tynwald Day.

Anyway, more of that later on…..

Last weekend was very busy with the Viking Longboat Race, which was held in Peel. Tynwald Members put a mixed team in called “Don’t Rock the Boat – Just Row! and we finished mid table with a time of 3 minutes and 17 seconds, which wasn’t bad for novices.

More importantly it was just a brilliant couple of days’ training and then the actual race.

I also had a couple of Constituent meetings on Sunday morning and the Tynwald Garden Party in the afternoon, but I spent a considerable amount of time over the weekend dealing with three historic Constituent matters, which were far from easy.

In this role most Constituent issues are relatively straightforward and can be dealt with through a quick phone call or e-mail, but on a few occasions the Constituent issues are complex and require a lot more time, careful thought and a response given in the right way…..

Since being elected in September 2016, I have now seen four different examples where previous MHKs should have given different advice to Constituents, even if that meant they lost their support or vote at a later date….

It isn’t easy and I have struggled with these decisions all weekend, but I genuinely believe that all MHKs, MLCs and Local Authority Commissioners have an overriding duty to give Constituents impartial and honest advice at all times, however difficult that might be at times.

It is only when you start to peel back the multiple layers of this fantastic role that you actually realise how complex and difficult the role can be at times….

Anyway, I was in the office early on Monday, just before 7.50am.

The first task as always was to grab a coffee and clear out my inbox and draft any correspondence outstanding.

With no meetings or briefings on Monday, I was able to drive back into Onchan at 10am to drop off some files and to visit a couple of Constituents – one being a very good friend and we took the opportunity to sit in his garden for 30 minutes enjoying his pond and beautiful garden, along with discussing a neighbour issue.

I was back in the office for 11.30am and from there I got my head down with various tasks and projects.

At lunchtime, I received a phone call from a local business who said they had no water, which appeared to be a fairly straightforward request for help. That was until I realised that they were not on the mains water supply, and that their water came from alternative sources, which had clearly dried up because of the continuous dry weather at the moment.

Anyway, after several calls with the MUA I was told to contact the IOM Creameries, which came as a bit of surprise at the time. After a couple of phone calls with IOM Creameries they came to their aid and sent off a tanker to deliver 15,000 litres of water to refill the water tank. Apparently, the Creamery did a similar delivery back in 2011 during TT.

You definitely don’t get two days the same in this role! A massive thank you to the Isle of Man Creameries, especially the staff member who was aware of the situation back in 2011 and so was able to help once again.

I also had to draft a long correspondence to DOI and DEFA in respect of an ongoing complaint of overgrown trees, which involved filling in several forms.

The rest of the afternoon was spent completing a few projects before going home at 17.15. With Parliamentary and Department work slowing down, it really is the perfect opportunity to catch up with project and Constituency matters.

Straight after tea I needed to review 50 pages of data, which took a couple of hours but I managed to finish for 20.45.

Back into the office for 8am on Tuesday but no House of Keys, so it was head down with projects and constituency work. In the first couple of hours I was able to draft and send out nine letters, which certainly gave me a head start for the day.

Just before 10am we headed up to the Barrool Suite for two key presentations. The first one was on the future funding for nursing and residential care on the island. This is another massive topic being picked up by this administration and discussed, but it will definitely split public opinion, just like previous debates.

The six potential models were discussed at length, but a lot more information will be needed, along with a greater public input before any changes can be made, in my opinion.
The second meeting related to the Public Sector Pensions legacy funding gap, which is another massive topic that needs addressing during this administration. Again, there are no easy decisions.

In my election manifesto I said the Public Sector Pensions legacy should have been discussed and fully resolved 10 or 15 years ago, and the more I read on the topic the more I believe I am right.

Back to the office to catch up with e-mails and phone calls before meeting up with my old boss for a working lunch at 13.00. I took the opportunity to show him around the Tynwald Chambers and offices etc, before taking him to the government canteen for lunch. We also took the opportunity to discuss the current position of the Corporate Services and Banking industries, along with a general catch up.

At 14.00 I headed into Onchan for a couple of Constituency meetings relating to the newly published Eastern Plan, especially around the remaining sites in and around Onchan.

I was back in the office for 15.15 and I took the opportunity to have a chat with the Chairman of the Constitutional and Legal Affairs and Justice Committee. I remain hopeful that the Committee will look at introducing a level of compulsory arbitration or mediation for all non-criminal cases on island, which is also in my 2016 election Manifesto.

This could be funded by way of freeing up vital Court time and ensures that all parties have an opportunity to be heard, and also to come to terms with the potential financial consequences if drawn into the full legal system.

The rest of the afternoon was spent on a couple of ongoing projects and a couple of Constituent issues, one involving a housing dispute.

I left the office at 17.20 and took most of the evening off to watch the football, but I still needed to make a couple calls.

A slightly shorter day in the office on Wednesday, but the day still started around 8am, and I have definitely been able to find some time this week to complete various tasks and projects, which have been building up.

At 10am I had a meeting with the Chairman of the Manx Motor Cycle Club as we look towards this year’s and future events.

The meeting last around 90 minutes and from there I headed down to the Sea Terminal for a working lunch with someone I met at the MGP last year, in order to discuss a new project that I was looking at then.

Back to the office at 13.15 and with me being out of the office on Thursday my attention turned to the Tynwald Order Paper, which included printing off various reports and papers and starting to look through them.

I left the office at 16.45 in order to get home and changed before driving to Government House for 18.00, in order to attend the “Beat Retreat”. The visiting military unit this year was from the Royal Navy – the Band was from Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth.

At 19.40 we headed down to the Villa Marina to join the Tynwald Day guests for the President’s Dinner. I heard stories before I was elected of the famous Tynwald Banquet, which was always a grand affair. Fortunately, things have changed a lot since then and the President’s Dinner is a lot simpler these days, but still very enjoyable.

Even today it is hard explain the expense, but we are a Crown Dependency with our own Parliament, and therefore it is right that we look after Tynwald guests, especially around the Tynwald Day celebrations.

We finally got home for 23.10, which left just enough time to send a couple of emails before calling it a day.

Thursday was our National Day. I was immensely proud to be able to represent the people of Onchan and this island once again, especially those residents who are unable to attend the ceremony themselves in St John’s.

It was an early start on Thursday getting ready for Tynwald Day, so we were up and about for 7am.

8.50am we drove to St John’s and simply allowed the day to unfold. I definitely felt more comfortable this year and more aware of all the dos and don’ts associated with the day.

All Tynwald Members have to be in the robing room for 10.15am and Tynwald guests have to be sitting in the church for 10.20am, so we actually miss a lot of Tynwald Day activities waiting for the Governor and his party to arrive at 10.40am.

If nothing else, it gives us some time to relax and to chat in the robing room. There was a very interesting discussion amongst the Members on “50 Shades of Grey” this year…

Don’t get over excited, the conversation related to the correct shade of grey that should be worn on Tynwald Day by Members – I think Dr. Allinson took pictures of various ties, but I still believe I was wearing the correct tie according to the briefing notes.
The Isle of Man continued to have brilliant sunshine, but St John’s on Tynwald Day was covered in mist, which made the day cooler than expected. It was still a fantastic day. Many congratulations to Bill Dale on receiving the Tynwald Honour Medal in the morning, which is only awarded by Tynwald to recipients who have made an outstanding contribution to Manx life over a significant period of time and have demonstrated a selfless commitment in doing so.

Once all the formalities were over, Ellen and I looked around the fair with its many stalls. We spoke to so many people and had some amazing conversations with various Charities, but especially the Isle of Man Deaf Society, including the wonderful service they provide to deaf people on the island in order to enable them to follow the Isle of Man TT Races on Senior Race Day – simply amazing….

We headed home for around 14.45am just to grab something to eat before driving back to St John’s for 18.30 to join the Tynwald guests and members for TynwaldFest.

A brilliant evening of entertainment and the 2018 Tynwald Day celebrations drew to a close with a performance on Tynwald Hill from the Ellan Vannin Pipe Band and a display by local fire troupe Spinning Vannin, which was fantastic.

We finally got home for 23.15.

Back into the office for 8am on Friday – I didn’t have a heavy schedule, but was kept busy. I managed to catch up with correspondence before my first meeting at 10am with an old friend who also happens to be a TT sidecar rider.

It was good to catch up, but I was able to use the meeting to ask various questions around the TT and this year’s event.

Back to the office briefly before driving into Onchan for a couple of Constituent meetings.

From there I had a dentist appointment at 11.45am and once I got back to the office I headed straight over to DfE for an Extraordinary Department Workshop on Locate.Im and the Beneficial Owners Register.

The work finished at 14.00 and after a quick briefing with the Minister I headed back to the office to start looking at the Tynwald Order Paper and a couple of Constituent issues before I left the office at 16.00.

I still had a few e-mails to catch up with, but I was able to finish for 18.00.

I have four Constituent meetings scheduled for Saturday, but hopefully they will be finished before England play Sweden in the World Cup, along with attending the Isle of Man Symphony Orchestra concert on Saturday evening.

Sunday will be taken up with the Tynwald Order Paper and attending Peel’s Secret Gardens.