Blog 5 Aug 18The UK and the Isle of Man are definitely getting all four seasons at the moment.

After enjoying upwards of 34C in London last week, the weather certainly took a turn for the worse towards the end of the week when parts of the UK and Isle of Man were hit by heavy rain, flooding and high winds.

Unfortunately, the Isle of Man also had serious delays at Ronaldsway Airport, and with the Ben-my-Chree also suffering a technical fault at the same time, it was definitely a challenging period for both the management and staff of the Steam Packet, the Airlines and within the Department of Infrastructure.

After a wonderful trip to London last week, Ellen and I were due to fly back to the Isle of Man on Sunday evening, but our flight was cancelled just after we checked in our luggage, which meant we then had a 90 minute wait for EasyJet staff to locate our case before making our way to the hotel.

Just like Flybe a few months ago when they cancelled our flight from Manchester, the level of customer service offered by EasyJet was very, very good and we were offered an overnight stay at a hotel and a dinner voucher, not forgetting breakfast in the morning.

After settling into the hotel for the night we headed down to the bar to get something to eat. It was funny to look up and suddenly see the Chief Minister (Howard Quayle) walking past.

The Chief Minister was also on the same cancelled flight, so it gave us an opportunity to catch up on a few things over dinner.

I heard later on that Dr Alex Allinson MHK was also meant to be on the same flight home, but then made alternative arrangements, which didn’t actually go to plan…..

On a negative point, EasyJet staff were giving different advice to passengers as to why the flight was cancelled – weight of the plane, technical issues or weather in the Isle of Man were just a couple of the reasons given.

I discovered later on that EasyJet were unable to land an A319/A320 aeroplane in the Isle of Man for various reasons.

As I did previously, I took the opportunity to speak to many of the passengers waiting for the flight, and it is clear that cancelled flights to and from the Isle of Man are starting to seriously affect long-term business travel, visitors travelling to the Isle of Man for leisure, not forgetting local residents trying to return home.

The airlines definitely need to rebuild confidence with the Manx public and the business community, and the Visit Isle of Man Agency definitely faces an uphill battle to achieve the Programme for Government target, which is to increase the tourism figures by 2020.

Most of Monday was spent waiting to get back to the Isle of Man.

EasyJet requested that all passengers still checked in for 10.40am, even though we knew the rescheduled flight at 12.40 was delayed.

Fortunately, we found our way into one of the airport lounges, which enabled Ellen and I to carry on working as much as possible, as much of our work is portable these days.

I continued to work through the 591 pages of the Isle of Man Film Industry report, along with catching up with emails and correspondence etc.

We finally got home for around 17.15 on Monday evening.

My schedule for this week was very light, which gave me an opportunity to continue to work on various projects and to catch up on personal jobs around the house.

I went into the office at 7.40am on Tuesday simply to collect some files and post and to catch up with a few emails.

At 9am I went into Tesco, but most of the shelves were empty because the Ben-my-Chree hadn’t sailed for a couple of days.

From there I headed home to work on various things around the house, including catching up with the washing and ironing etc.

In the afternoon at 14.00 I met up with a group of Constituents, which is a regular meeting to discuss an ongoing concern. It is now the longest ongoing Constituent matter I am currently dealing with.

I am still genuinely wanting to find a satisfactory outcome for everyone involved, but it is a slow process and it doesn’t help when Government Departments simply do not communicate in a timely manner.

I did also get the opportunity to continue reading through various reports, but it certainly wasn’t a busy or stressful day.

Wednesday was almost an identical day to Tuesday, but without any Constituency meetings, so I was able to to stay at home.

I got a lot of cleaning and reading done, along with sending various emails but again nothing too stressful, which makes a pleasant change…..

Finally got back into the office at 7.45am on Thursday morning to catch up with a few things in the office, including drafting a few letters that should have gone out last week.

I also wasted 40 minutes drafting a long e-mail on behalf of a Constituent, only to press the delete button on my iPad before saving the correspondence – not a good thing to do, and you can never repeat the same e-mail…….

Anyway, at 9.15am I drove back into Onchan for a meeting with a couple of Constituents relating to a housing and disturbance issue.

A big thank you to Andrea at Onchan Commissioners who also came along to the meeting, which lasted just over 90 minutes.

I then drove back into Douglas and only went to park the car before walking over to DfE for a meeting with the Director of Motorsport and the Deputy Chief Executive of DfE.

The meeting gave us an opportunity to clear up a few concerns and for me to obtain an update on the Classic and MGP events.

The meeting finished just after 12 noon and I made my way back to the office to re-draft the email that I had deleted earlier on, but it wasn’t as good as the original.

I also had a brief meeting with the DfE Minister and caught up with a couple of colleagues on various topics, especially around the airline and Steam Packet delays.

Once the meetings had finished, I started to go through medical correspondence and information before drafting an email back to a Constituent.

At 13.45 I drove up to the dentist for an appointment and some ongoing treatment.

I then dropped the car off again before heading up to Circular Road for a meeting with the Attorney General, which started at 15.15.

I had requested the meeting, in order to discuss a series of events over a number years. Although the Constituent has lost his faith me as their MHK, I am continuing to look into the matter to see if there was any genuine failing in the systems and procedure, because I was unable to see them when reviewing various the documents.

The meeting lasted less than an hour and I was back at my desk for 16.15, in order to continue to draft various emails.

I left the office at 17.15 and once home I still needed to make several calls.

Ellen had sent an online claim form to Easyjet on Wednesday evening and we were surprised to receive a response the next evening confirming that the airline would pay us compensation for our delayed flight under the EU regulation 261/2004, which was very nice.

Having had an exchange of correspondence with Ann Reynolds, Airport Director this week on the delays and cancellations, I can now see how any delay or cancelled flight can seriously cost the airlines, so it isn’t a decision they make lightly.

However, from the public and business point of view, reliability needs to improve as a matter of urgency.

Back to Friday’s schedule, I was in the office for 8am and I spent the first hour or so working on my ILS Debate speech, which will be an ongoing project for the next couple of weeks as it requires a lot of research and reading before I can draft the speech.

At 9.45am I drove back into Onchan for a meeting with a developer that holds one of the potential sites contained within the Eastern Plan.

I was certainly prepared for the weather, I had brought my wellies and umbrella but I didn’t need them as he had a little off-road vehicle, which was fantastic.

It was an excellent tour of the land, but like many of the other sites, the Eastern Plan also needs to improve the overall infrastructure, the flow of traffic in and out of Onchan, along with dealing with the sewerage and rainwater drainage, which is never going to be easy.

A Constituent contacted me a few weeks ago with their concerns regarding the site, so I took the opportunity to call around to give them an update.

I was back in the office by 11.30am, which enabled me to catch up with a few things.

At 12.20 we walked over to DfE for an Extraordinary Department Workshop, and given the delays this week at the airport and the sea terminal, I asked if we could review and discuss policies around the delayed and cancelled flights.

It was a good open discussion around the table, but more work needs to be undertaken in association with the airlines if we are to improve reliability and confidence.

Back to the office for 14.00 and the rest of the afternoon was spent at my desk until I left around 17.10.

I took the opportunity to go through a few more documents relating to the Eastern Plan, along with making a couple of calls.

My weekend looks free also, other than returning a faulty suitcase…..