Blog 21 April 18I went into the office early on Monday (7.30am), not because of an overall busy day but to enable me to get my head down and finish off preparing for this month’s Tynwald sitting.

I spent some time over the weekend going through the Order Paper, but there was still plenty to do especially preparing for question time and answering the questions relating to the latest Passenger Survey and the overall position of tourism on the Isle of Man.

Other than having several discussions with my MHK colleagues I spent most of Monday at my desk reading through various documents and drafting notes.

That said, I had two meetings scheduled during the day, one with Jason Moorhouse, MHK and our tourism team ahead of a meeting taking place in Castletown on Wednesday.

The second meeting was with Alex Downie, OBE and Tim Crookall, MLC as we discussed various Motorsport topics including the Jurby Vintage Day.

I left the office at 16.15 and once home I had to deal with an ongoing planning application, family services matter, and I also received a phone call relating to an insurance claim that definitely raised more questions than answers.

After tea I did some research into the insurance claim and made a couple of calls, along with finishing off some Tynwald items before calling it a day at 20.30.

In the office for 8.20am on Tuesday and I had a number of missed calls overnight, so I dealt with those enquiries first.

One related to a housing matter, another one related to some immigration legislation concerns, which was an ongoing matter throughout the week.

These enquiries certainly took up the first hour of Tuesday morning.

Just before 10.30am we headed down to Tynwald Court for this month’s sitting, and there were a few empty seats due to Ministers and MHKs being away on Government business.

The sitting started with 20 Oral Questions and with the DfE Minister, Laurence Skelly, MHK off island with the Chief Minister, Howard Quayle, MHK, I had to answer a series of questions relating to the Passenger Survey and the Isle of Man tourism industry.

It was only the second time I had to answer questions, so I was a little nervous and I was certainly lacking some information in the supplementary answers given…

As I mentioned in my opening remarks in Tynwald on Tuesday – there are a number of significant multi-million pound investments being made into our tourism infrastructure with new hotels being developed as well as existing accommodation providers expanding and refurbishing their offering.

There were a further 17 questions down for written reply.

We then went through the remaining Order Paper, which was relatively light this month, but there were still some excellent debates amongst the Tynwald Members.

During the lunchtime break I did a Manx Radio interview relating to the island tourism sector. I also needed to respond to a number of ongoing Constituency matters, but I still managed to get some lunch in between.

The afternoon session started at 14.30 and there were several items that ignited discussion amongst the members, especially surrounding the development of unoccupied urban sites in a motion brought by Bill Shimmins, MHK and the motion brought by the Speaker, Mr. Juan Watterson, SHK that Tynwald recognises the existence of relative poverty on our island.

In this role you certainly meet a lot of people from all levels of society, and there is no doubt that poverty existence on the Isle of Man but maybe in a slightly different form from in the UK and other jurisdictions.

As the House of Keys Speaker mentioned in his opening remarks, poverty can be short term, long term and there will certainly be those in society that feel that poverty is life long, and therefore we definitely need to investigate the definition of poverty.

I have always said that the best speeches are those that come from the heart, based around someone’s own personal circumstances and experiences.

Ms. Tanya August-Hanson,MLC certainly gave a wonderful maiden speech on the poverty motion.

Not related to the motion just mentioned, but Kate Lord-Brennan, MLC also gave an outstanding maiden speech earlier on in the morning relating to domestic abuse.

My colleague from Garff, Mrs. Daphne Caine also picked up a Tynwald Hill Petition from 5th July 2016 for Tynwald to support the erection of a statue of Sophia Jane Goulden who was born in Lonan and died on 22nd April 1910.

The Manx-born mother was certainly an early influence on the famous English political activist and Leader of the British Suffragette movement, Emmeline Goulden Pankhurst.

This month’s Tynwald sitting finished at around 18.15 and I was back home for 18.40. Once home I needed to draft a number of e-mails but I was able to finish for around 19.30.

Although Tynwald managed to finish of all its business within one day, I was still in the office for 8.15am on Wednesday.

I was due to give the opening remarks at the 2018 Manx Hospitality Day at the Palace Hotel, but the event was cancelled late on Monday afternoon, which meant that I had a quieter morning than scheduled.

It also gave me an opportunity to catch up with correspondence and to draft thirteen letters, which should have been sent out a couple of weeks ago.

I also walked over the DfE briefly to collect some documents, but overall the day was spent at my desk catching up with some administrative tasks and correspondence, which was falling well behind once again.

One constituent contacted me regarding the current Isle of Man legislation relating to provisional licences and L plates and how it affects UK drivers / riders coming to the Isle of Man.

Like most things, it isn’t straightforward – the Isle of Man legislation is that “L” or learner plates can only be used with provisional licences, or provisional entitlements under full driving licences, issued on the Island to IoM residents.

UK provisional licences, or provisional entitlements on full UK licences for other categories of vehicle, are issued to UK residents and are not valid on the Island. Anyone using a UK driving licence to justify driving with a provisional entitlement and an L plate is likely to be committing an offence on the Island.

Any other spare time during the day was spent reading some immigration legislation, which ran into a couple of hundred pages.

I also took the opportunity to take Ellen out for lunch at our usual noodle bar on the corner of Athol Street.

Straight after lunch I collected my bag and drove down to Castletown for a meeting with Jason Moorhouse, MHK, tourism officials and an accommodation provider.

Unfortunately, my calendar appointment was slightly wrong, which meant I turned up thirty minutes early…… but at least it gave me an opportunity to look around Castletown.

The meeting lasted over ninety minutes and I also took the opportunity to look around the accommodation being provided, which was certainly of a high standard.

I noticed that I had several missed calls, which I dealt with once I was back in the office for around 16.15.

One missed call related to an ongoing matter involving a Constituent’s baby that had been born in the UK two months prematurely. I spent around an hour on the phone speaking to various people including the Isle of Man Air Ambulance Service and the Constituents, in order to help repatriate the baby back to the Isle of Man.

Hopefully the baby can be flown home on Friday, which is excellent news for everyone involved, and a massive thank you to the staff at Noble’s Hospital for their input and help.

The key message from these events is to make sure that you take out sufficient travel insurance cover if you are planning a trip off the Island.

The whole situation could have been far more difficult if the Constituent did not have insurance cover, and it definitely could have cost them several thousands of pounds to bring the baby home…..

I finally left the office at 17.30.

Thursday was meant to be a straightforward and easy day, but it definitely felt rushed towards the afternoon and evening.

I worked from home in the morning, which gave an opportunity to continue to going through some immigration legislation, which is definitely taking up considerable time this week.

I also spent an hour backdating my website with old Blogs that actually go back to June 2016 and it was one of those tasks that I have been looking to finish for a while.

On a rough count I think a have drafted around 95 weekly Blogs so far, which isn’t too bad and I do feel extremely privileged that I am able to share this fantastic journey with other people.

I still needed catch up with e-mails along with answering a couple of calls, which required meetings to be scheduled for next week.

Most of Thursday afternoon was taken up with two Constituency meetings, both relating to planning concerns….

The first meeting lasted just short of two hours as we went through a planning application and how certain decisions were made, along with listening to the Constituent’s concerns and how best to address those concerns.

From there I went to a second Constituent meeting, again relating to an ongoing issue involving the enforcement of planning conditions.

Everything to do with planning is a minefield, there is always a winner and there always a loser – and in the middle are the MHKs trying to help resolve any disputes.

I left that meeting just after 15.00 and I went straight home to get changed into a suit before driving into the office, which gave me an opportunity to respond to a couple of e-mails.

At 16.20 Laurence Skelly, MHK, Tim Crookall, MLC and I along with our wives walked down to Douglas Council to meet the Mayor, Debbie Pitts, Linda Curphey, Mayoress and Councillor Stephen Pitts.

It was very nice to be invited into the Mayor’s Parlour and we took the opportunity to look around the Corporation Building, along with the many pictures and furnishings.

It was definitely something different and I personally think Debbie and Linda have promoted the Corporation wonderfully over the last twelve months.

I managed to get home for 18.20 and after tea I need to catch up with emails and phone calls but I called it a day at 20.45.

I also received a text message in the evening confirming that the premature baby born in the UK should be landing in the Isle of Man at 14.15. It is definitely this type of thing that makes this job worthwhile…..

In the office for 8.10am on Friday as I continued to going through some immigration legislation. I also scheduled a few meetings, along with speaking to planning officers which was a follow up from my meetings on Thursday.

Just before 10am I walked down to Starbucks for a meeting over an ongoing concern which I will need to take back to the DfE.

From there I walked over to DfE for a meeting with the Castletown developer who I met on Wednesday, in order to help get their accommodation registered as quickly as possible.

That meeting finished at 12.20 and I took the opportunity to catch up with e-mails before my next meeting, which was at 13.00.

My final meeting of the day was with the Manx Motorcycling Club in order to catch up and discuss various topics surrounding the Festival of Motorcycling Events.

I walked back to the office at 15.30 before running down to M & S to buy a few items.

Back to the office and the last hour was spent printing off various reports and documents, include DfE board papers and trying to catch up with correspondence before leaving the office at 17.10.

I also have a busy schedule for the weekend, as I have my Political Surgery on Saturday and I have a lot reading to do thoughout the weekend.

I might even find a little time to go into the garden…