Blog 10 Jul 17With all the pomp & ceremony last week around Tynwald Day and a clear lack of briefings and meetings it certainly felt like I was back at work this week. That said, I am desperately looking for a couple of days off and some fine weather to paint our house before the end of August….

In the office for 8.25am on Monday morning. My colleague Martyn Perkins, MHK made the coffee for a change, which was nice.

After sending out several letters I reviewed my notes and correspondence relating to the Strategic Sea Service Agreement and the latest proposals for the Douglas Promenade.

Just before 10.30 we headed up to the Barrool Suite for the first of two long presentations given by the Department of Infrastructure. The first presentation was on the Strategic Sea Services Agreement and the offer made by the Steam Packet to extend the current user agreement until 19th September 2041.

This is definitely one of the biggest decisions I will make during this administration and from looking through all the documents it will be a political nightmare for the elected members – with no easy decisions for the Isle of Man going forward, but political pitfalls at every juncture.

The presentation finished at 12.40 and after lunch a second presentation was made on the refurbishment of Douglas Promenade. I think most people agree that work needs to start as quickly as possible, and I am hopeful that the redevelopment will also kickstart the regeneration of the lower part of the Douglas, which is long overdue.

The presentation finished at 14.35, which gave me time to send a few emails and to make a couple of calls.

At 15.00 I had a meeting with representatives of the Isle of Man Construction Industry who have concerns, and rightly so, on the number of government schemes coming online in the short to medium term.

The industry is also looking for the Capital Programme Schemes listed within the Pink Book to be turned into reality during the financial years listed, in order to help avoid the rollercoaster effect within the Construction Industry.

The meeting finished at 16.10 and I had to rush to collect my mum for 16.30, in order to take her to the Airport. After picking Ellen up at 17.05 I headed home for the day.

After tea I drafted my Blog along with drafting several e-mails and a poster for the Onchan Secret Gardens event being held in May 2018, before finishing at 20.40.

Tuesday was all about the Tynwald Order Paper. Unfortunately, I didn’t sleep well on Monday night as I had too many things rattling around in my head, which happens from time to time.

I still managed to get into the office for 8.20am and after grabbing the morning coffee I needed to make a number of calls and to arrange several meetings for the next few weeks. I also managed to send a couple of letters out before my first meeting at 9.30am.

Just before 9.30am I headed over to Government Buildings for a meeting with Treasury officers in order to bring forward a Debtors Register, which was originally brought forward by John Houghton but has since lapsed.

It was a positive meeting and I am hopeful that a Debtors Register will be set up on the Isle of Man early in 2018, but there is still a lot of work to be done between now and then.

I was back at my desk for 10.10am but I decided to cancel the remaining three meetings for the day, in order to fully focus and to read through the Tynwald Order Paper for the July sitting, which starts next Tuesday.

There are some big reports on the Order Paper and by 16.30 I had finished reading through all the documents and reports, but I certainly had a sore head at the end of it.

I think it is also the first time that I have found the time to actually to read through every single document. Normally I start with the big reports and decisions and work backwards, but it is all about making the time to read everything.

I also managed to keep up with e-mails throughout the day.

I left the office at 17.10 and after tea I went through the DED Agenda Pack ahead of tomorrow’s meeting, before calling it a day at 19.55.

In the office at 8.15am on Wednesday and the first task was to read through the Tree Preservation Act 1993 and the Trees and High Hedges Act 2005, along with making several notes.

Just after 9.15am, Tim Crookall, MLC and I headed over to DED for the usual meeting with the Minister and Political Members. At 10am we went into the Boardroom for the Department meeting, which started with two key presentations.

One presentation was on a project that could be filmed on the Isle of Man over the summer months and the second presentation was on the employment figures for the Isle of Man that are very encouraging.

Unfortunately, I had to leave the DED department early in order to get to the Sea Terminal for 11.30am. I scheduled the meeting in order to help find a satisfactory solution to some high trees that have continued to affect a number of Onchan residents for many years.

I felt the meeting was positive and I am hoping that the points agreed will be followed through by DOI and / or DEFA.

Back to the office for 12.30, which gave me time to catch up with a couple of e-mails and to make several calls – another one involving more high hedges in and around Onchan. I also managed to discuss the Tynwald Order Paper with one of my colleagues before heading up to the Barrool Suite for 13.00.

At 13.00, the Arts and Culture Committees gave a presentation on their aims and goals for the future, which also gave members an excellent insight to the work of the two fantastic organisations on the island.

The meeting finished at 14.00, which finally gave me time to catch up with e-mails and calls, along with drafting several letters. I also had to help Constituents out with a garden dispute and an employment dispute.

I headed home at 17.10.

Thursday was a relatively straightforward day, in the office for 8.20am and the first job was to draft a number of letters relating to various ongoing Constituent issues. I still find it far easier to draft my own correspondence instead of taking advantage of the secretarial services available to Members.

I was meant to meet other Tynwald Members to go through next week’s Order Paper, but I took the opportunity to catch up with the outstanding work which was starting to pile up on my desk.

I also spoke to a local estate agent in order to investigate a Manx National Heritage item ahead of next week’s meeting.

At 12.20 Tim Crookall, MHK and I headed up to Onchan, in order to enable me to collect a key to the community centre. From there we visited a property in Onchan, in order for me to take some pictures relating to overhanging trees.

At 12.50 we headed down to Castletown to watch some of the Southern 100 races but also to speak to the organisers and a promoter. Unfortunately, things didn’t go to plan as we couldn’t find the organisers or the promoter.

It wasn’t all bad news as we did enjoy a couple of races and a cuppa, along with ice creams which Mr. Crookall bought – thank you….

Back to the office for 15.40 and after catching up with e-mails I spent the rest of the afternoon reading through some Iris evidence ahead of tomorrow’s Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee oral session.

I headed home for 17.20 and after tea I continued to go though the Iris documents, along with drafting a number of questions and notes ahead of tomorrow, but I called it a day at 22.15.

In the office 8.15am on Friday in order to continue going through the documents, reports and evidence submitted in relation to the IRIS scheme and the last three potential sites in Laxey, Bradrine and Peel.

As Chairman of a scrutiny committee I feel it is vitally important that I fully understand any matter being scrutinised and discussed.

Just before 10am I headed downstairs to meet some Explorer Scouts who will be travelling to Iceland tomorrow afternoon. I was meant to give the Explorers a tour of the Tynwald Chambers and Legislative Building, but unfortunately I needed to continue with my Committee work and there were already a number of tours scheduled throughout the morning, which meant the original time was changed slightly.

It didn’t matter too much as the Explorers joined the public tour at 10am before we met up again at 11.20am, which give me time to show them around the areas not open to the public.

It also gave us time to discuss their forthcoming trip to Iceland, before we headed down for lunch in the government canteen, which unfortunately wasn’t the best menu that day – that’s what happens when you boast how good the food is normally…..!

I needed to leave at 12.55 in order to attend a meeting with a Steam Packet representative ahead of the Tynwald debate on Tuesday.

The meeting finished at 13.50, which gave me a quick opportunity to send a couple of e-mails before going down to the Committee room for a meeting with my Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee colleagues.

At 15.00 the Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee held the first oral evidence session on the IRIS Scheme, which was taken from a local Peel business which could be affected by the site being proposed.

The second oral evidence session started at 16.00 and was with Peel Town Commissioners and Ray Harmer, MHK. That session finished at 17.10 and after completing a couple of tasks I headed home for 17.25.

After tea I answered any outstanding e-mails and drafted today’s Blog before settling down for the usual Friday night movie, which tonight was LOGAN….

I have a political surgery on Saturday (10am to 11.30am). I will also be attending the Onchan Fayre in the afternoon, along with preparing for the Junior Tynwald being held on Monday. Sunday will be spent on an ongoing project, further details to be given in a couple of weeks’ time.