A bitterly cold start to the week as concerns move away from the snow that fell last weekend to the hard ice that greeted many people on Monday morning.

Temperatures fell sharply with many places around the island falling well below zero, which meant the icy conditions in and around Onchan were treacherous on Monday morning.

Conditions were far worse in the residential housing estates, which were difficult to navigate, especially on the pavements that remained untreated.

Ashley Hill School in Onchan was definitely hit the hardest with many of the drop off points and pavements covered in a thick layer of ice or snow before school re-opened on Monday morning.

I certainly take my hat off to the Department of Infrastructure team who had an almost impossible job to clear the roads and to keep traffic flowing last weekend. I also heard some amazing stories of brilliant community spirit with neighbours helping neighbours, which is fantastic news.

A big thank you also to Ian and Joe who came to my aid last weekend when a Constituent asked me for urgent help at teatime last Saturday. Unfortunately, part of her conservatory fell in, so water was pouring into the property and she needed urgent help……

It certainly helps to have some excellent friends in the trade, as they were on site within fifteen minutes and I am also extremely grateful that the Constituent paid the guys for their time.

Anyway, turning my attention to this week’s Blog, it will be slightly shorter than usual as it will only run up to Thursday. Full details on Friday’s activities will be given in next week’s Blog…..

Monday was definitely a day for formal invites and tours – in the office for 8.20am and the first job was to print off a very large order paper ahead of the Department for Enterprise meeting on Wednesday, subject to Tynwald finishing.

I also had to catch up with e-mails as I fell slightly behind on correspondence over the weekend.

Just before 10am, Tim Crookall, MLC and I walked to Eagle Court on Circular Rd to meet up with the House of Keys Speaker, Juan Watterson, SHK, Simon Scott (Barclays MD) and other Senior Management within the Barclays Isle of Man team.

We were offered an opportunity to look around their operational centre, which again gave us a fantastic insight into another very large island employer with roots firmly embedded here on the Isle of Man, which is excellent news.

You certainly don’t get a quiet meeting with three Tynwald members as we took the opportunity to ask multiple questions on all levels of the business, including new accounts, online banking, customer service, lending, anti money laundering, mortgages and customer due diligence.

One of the biggest discussions was around how the bank is tackling online and general bank fraud at the moment.

Maybe it is because I am an ex-Compliance professional, but I was surprised by the amount of time and effort Barclays staff dedicate to just protecting their customers and their funds.

I know Simon Scott reads my Blog, so I hope he doesn’t mind me mentioning that Barclays have some excellent incentives for their staff. One particular raffle prize this month certainly made me laugh as the TV on offer wouldn’t even fit in my house, but one very lucky member of staff will have a fantastic TV for Christmas, though they might have to remove a window to get the thing into the house…….

Once the tour at the operational centre was completed we headed down to Barclays Bank in Victoria Street, which included a further tour and a light lunch, which gave us a final opportunity to raise further questions on bank facilities for e-gaming, general lending for improvements etc before finishing at 13.30.

It was then a rush to get back to office before Tim and I along with Daphne Caine, MHK drove up to Mount Murray Hotel in Santon.

We were kindly invited by the new owner and some of the senior management team to look around the new Mount Murray Hotel, which is looking truly amazing.

Although the weather was bitterly cold outside the tour around the hotel was excellent, and I can’t wait for the complex to come back online.

Still a lot of work to be done as the building remains an empty shell with several walls missing, but anyone expecting to see the old Mount Murray reopen is in for one very big surprise.

I certainly was surprised by the level of work and change currently going on at the hotel, and I love the plans and ideas outlined by the Owner and his team. It will certainly be a key jewel in the Isle of Man’s tourism crown in the coming years.

We managed to get back to the office for 17.05 to collect my things and once home I started to catch up with e-mails and messages etc…

I also started reading through the Tynwald Order Paper before calling it a day at 22.15.

Very cold and icy outside on Tuesday morning but I still managed to get into the office for 8.15am and after grabbing a quick coffee I rang the new Managing Director of Manx Gas, Ian Plenderleith who left me a message on Monday.

I was scheduled to meet Tony Nichols on Thursday but he has now left his post, so the meeting will still go ahead but with the new Manx Gas MD.

I then continued to work through the Tynwald Order Paper, which came up very quickly this month and I certainly wasn’t as prepared as I hoped.

Just 10.30am we headed down to Tynwald Court for this month’s sitting, which started with 16 oral questions.

There were a further 16 questions for written response along with several statements made by Department Ministers.

During the lunchtime break I needed to attend a briefing with the DfE Minister to resolve an ongoing department issue, along with attending a CPA whole branch meeting, which left very little time between sittings, in fact we were almost late for the afternoon session.

We managed to return to the Chamber at 14.30 and the business of the Court for December was completed by 16.10.

Back to office to catch up e-mails and phone messages before leaving the office 17.35.

After tea I started to go through the DfE agenda pack, which ran into around 200 pages…… but happy to finish at 20.45.

Unfortunately, I didn’t sleep very well on Tuesday night as I had numerous things running through my head, which happens a lot in this role. Anyway, I took the opportunity to read a few pages of the Vision Nine report at 2.40am but finally fell back asleep at around 4am.

Despite the lack of sleep and Tynwald finishing early yesterday, I was still in the office for 8.15am and a full calendar of meeting and briefings.

I took the opportunity to finish reading through the large Agenda pager before walking to the DfE for the pre-meeting with the Minister and the political Members.

We then walked through to the Boardroom for the main meeting, with a couple of presentations given by the Companies Registry, along with an overview of our social media reach for promoting the Isle of Man and other relevant sectors within the Department.

The board meeting finished around 13.00 and after walking back to the office I caught up with some e-mails. I then met a Constituent who has asked me to look into how a particular contract was renewed…..

With the meeting finishing slightly earlier than expected, I took the opportunity to run into M & S. On the way back I was stopped by another Constituent who was looking for some advice, so we walked back to my office and discussed his concern, which will require an e-mail drafting to the MUA.

From there I walked over to DfE for a meeting with the Minister and representatives from Manx National Heritage, in order to look at the possibility of opening on Sundays.

Back to the office with a brief meeting with the Minister for the Department of Infrastructure on regional housing waiting lists.

I left the office at 17.10 and once home I needed to send out my Christmas cards and to return a couple of calls, one relating to a visa application and another on a reserved parking space.

Thereafter I only had around 15 minutes to get changed, in order to attend the Government House Christmas Reception, which started at 18.30.

I felt it was a good reception and an opportunity to catch up with some old friends, but I was happy to get for home 20.40. Once home I still needed to send out several e-mails before calling it a day at 22.00.

In the office for 8am and the first job was to put together the MNH agenda papers for today’s meeting along with dealing with a couple of constituents and a local authority issue.

Just before 9.30am I walked down to Lloyds Bank in order to give some additional information and paperwork as I am considered a Local PEP (Politically Exposed Person) for regulatory matters.

Back to the office briefly to meet up with Chris Robertshaw, MHK before walking down to the Manx Gas offices for a meeting with Ian Plenderleith who is the new Managing Director for Manx Gas.

Alex Allinson, MHK, Clare Bettison, MHK and David Cretney, MLC also attended the meeting along with representatives from the Office of Fair Trading.

I felt it was an excellent opening meeting in order to put names to faces etc and also gave us an opportunity to outline many of the concerns raised by many Constituents over the past few years.

Once I was back at the office I was able to catch up with correspondence and phone calls ahead of attending the Tynwald Christmas Carol Service, which was being held in St Mary’s Church on Hill Street.

From there a number of Tynwald members met up in the Court House for a Christmas Lunch, which was paid for by individual Members.

Just enough time to run through the Manx National Heritage Agenda Pack before walking over to the Manx Museum for this month’s trustee meeting, which started at 16.00.

I had to leave the meeting slightly early at 17.30 as I had a few tasks to complete ahead of attending a Christmas fundraising event, which was held in Onchan Parish Hall.

I managed to get home for around 22.00 and after sending out a couple of e-mails I called it a day at 23.15.