Blog 12 March 18In the blink of an eye everything can change – that is the best way to describe the election of five new MLCs to the Manx Parliament this week.

Nothing wrong with the old fashioned “Grey Suits”, which is how some people described the structure of our Legislative Council, or a graveyard for old MHKs was another good one, but personally I felt the House of Keys elected the best five Candidates to fulfil the role.

It will be interesting to see if any of the new MLCs try to engage with the wider general public and maybe also give an insight in respect of the work that they undertake on behalf of the Isle of Man over the next few years.

Apologies, I am getting slightly ahead of myself in this week’s Blog.

Taking a few steps back – after a busy weekend with Constituency meetings and the Darts Festival, which was held in the Villa Marina, the first job after getting into the office at 8.15am on Monday morning was to go though a couple of policy documents and briefing notes received from DfE.

Just before 10am we headed down to the House of Keys for a special sitting in order to elect five new Members of the Legislative Council (MLCs). In previous sittings and years gone by, the election of MLC Candidates would usually take multiple rounds of elections and sometimes over multiple sittings.

However, history and the past was most definitely turned on its head as the House of Keys on Tuesday elected five new MLCs within the space of just 15 minutes, which has to be record for the Manx Parliament, even with a thousand years of history.

Personally I did not vote on gender, age or any other irrelevant issue, I simply voted for the five I thought seemed to be the best Candidates in the opening round, based on their overall performance throughout the election process – nothing else. Unfortunately I may have lost a good friend as a result of the election process, although I really hope we can put our differences aside and move on…… in time

Jane Poole-Wilson topped the poll with 22 votes, followed by Kate Lord-Brennan on 16, Tanya Humbles on 15, Marlene Hendy on 14 and these four MLCs are elected until 2023. Kerry Sharpe was also elected with 13 votes and her term of office will finish in 2020.

I was back at my desk for 10.30am, and it almost felt like it wasn’t worth putting on my suit on Tuesday morning, but we now have five new MLCs in just one round of votes.

The next couple of hours were spent catching up with correspondence, in particular drafting a long and detailed letter to one individual who presented a Petition to Tynwald in 2017. I did feel rather embarrassed because I should have responded a couple of months ago, but I was waiting for some information and an opportunity to draft the letter.

At 13.00 we went up to the Barool Suite for a presentation given by DfE in respect of the new Chief Executive and Agency models, which are currently being structured and hopefully will give industry a greater input and say in respect of the direction each Agency will take going forward.

Back at my desk again by 14.30 and the rest of the afternoon was spent going through correspondence and reviewing a couple of PR initiatives, which the tourism team are looking to unveil (hopefully) in 2018.

I also took the opportunity to read through various reports ahead of Tynwald next week.

I left the office at 17.15 and once home I still needed to draft various correspondence before calling it a day at 19.30.

A very early start on Tuesday morning – I realised on Sunday when I had my photo taken at the darts festival that I have put a little bit of weight on over the winter months, so I put on my trainers and headed out at 6am for a quick walk around Onchan village.

I managed to complete 5.4 miles in just one hour and sixteen minutes, which isn’t too bad a time for a middle-aged man.

The walk started in Abbeylands, heading on to Scollag Road, towards Signpost Corner and then down into the village towards the Manx Arms.

I then turned right and headed along the Whitebridge Road and Governor’s Road passing the Grandstand before turning right onto Ballanard Road, carrying straight on until reaching the Scollag crossroads once again and then home….

Still in the office for 8.10am in order to prepare for that day’s House of Keys sitting and at 9am I did two Manx Radio interviews on the new tourism agency and on the MLC elections.

Just before 10am we headed down to the House of Keys for the sitting, which started with the Commonwealth Day Message from Her Majesty the Queen.

There were just 4 questions for Oral answer and a further 6 for written reply, along with the Second Reading of the Anti-Money Laundering and other Financial Crime (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2018. We then continued to consider the Clause stages of the Abortion Reform Bill 2018, which finished at 13.00.

I have also posted a separate note on Tuesday’s House of Keys sitting, for further information.

From there we went straight into the Barool Suite for the Housing Review update with officers from the Department of Infrastructure.

That meeting finished just after 14.15 and we then went straight into an Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee meeting, which finished at 15.15.

The rest of the afternoon was spent trying to catch up with correspondence and phone calls.

I also went through my DED Agenda pack ahead of the DfE meeting on Wednesday morning.

I left the office at 17.30 and once home I started going through a Tynwald Report, which will be debated in May 2018, but I took the opportunity to finish early at 19.00.

A relatively straightforward day on Wednesday. In the office for 8.20am, which gave me an opportunity to catch up with a few things, along with having a chat with one of the newly elected MLCs.

Just after 9am Tim Crookall, MLC and I walked over to DfE for the Department meeting, which started with the usual Political meeting with the Minister.

At 10am we had the Department meeting, which started with two presentations from Manx National Heritage who gave an overview of the organisation and their five year (& beyond) plans.

We also had a presentation on this year’s Islexpo, which will be held at the Villa Marina on 16th May 2018. It is certainly going to be something different, fresh and include a new line up of industry guest speakers.

The presentations overran just a little, but we still managed to finish the Department meeting at 13.00.

After lunch I headed into Onchan for a couple of Constituent meetings, but I was back at my desk by 15.00.

The rest of the afternoon was spent drafting some correspondence, notes and going through my Public Accounts Committee and the Manx Museum Agenda Packs ahead of the meetings scheduled for Thursday.

I left the office at 17.00 and once home I quickly changed into a suit before heading down to the Villa Marina for this year’s Junior Achievement Awards evenings, which started at 18.00.

It was another fantastic night and there were various awards given out to teams that represented secondary schools across the island, including the UCM.

The top award of the evening, the “Student Company of the Year” went to “Jumpstart” from Ramsey Grammar School who are producing Caffee Jui, a locally made cold brew coffee using natural, Manx ingredients.

The winning team will now represent the Isle of Man in the European Competition, which will be held in Belgrade, Serbia later on in the year.

Finally got home at 22.00 and after drafting and sending a couple of e-mails I called it a day at 23.00.

In the office for 8.15am on Thursday and got my head straight down to a couple of Constituency matters relating to parking tickets and an ongoing fundraising scheme which I am helping with.

I was also asked to review the public sale of the Old Police Station, which I was happy to do, and this included making a couple of calls and a brief meeting with the Tynwald Clerk.

At 10am I attended the Public Accounts Committee meeting, but Thursday’s meeting was slightly different as the Auditor General of Kenya, Mr. Edward Ouko had travelled to the Isle of Man and was a guest of the PAC.

Mr. Ouko gave the Committee a wonderful overview and insight into his role as the Auditor General and that of the Office of the Auditor-General in Kenya and their relationship with their Parliament, especially when auditing and accounting for all public funds.

At 12 noon we continued with the PAC meeting but we were joined by the Isle of Man Government Internal Auditor, Mr. Stephen Hinds.

I still managed to get back to my desk for 13.15, which gave me an opportunity to respond to some correspondence, but my in-box was filling up fast by Thursday lunchtime.

I continued to work though my Manx Museum Heritage Trust Agenda Pack and to respond to some correspondence. I also spent an hour on the phone trying to sort out a couple of Constituent issues relating to Parking and Pension Payments.

At 15.30 I walked over to MNH for the trustee meeting, which started at 16.00. It was a good meeting and a couple of interesting topics for discussion, including the Old Police Station in Castletown.

Unfortunately, I needed to leave the meeting slightly early at 17.30 and once home I had to send several important emails, especially one relating to the Old Police Station.

We didn’t have much time at home as Ellen and I needed to be at Ballakermeen High School at 19.00. The teachers and students were putting on the Spring Concert, which was another fabulous Musical Extravaganza.

We managed to get home just after 21.00, but I still needed to send several more e-mails before calling it a day at 22.15.

Wide awake at 5.30am on Friday, so I took the opportunity to put my trainers on and go for the walk around Onchan again. I was slightly slower on Friday, when I completed the 5.4 miles course in one hour eighteen minutes.

Still in the office for 8.15am and with no meetings or briefings scheduled on Friday morning, I was able to start working on the Tynwald Order Paper for next week.

I also went through the Open Skies documentation ahead of the Committee next week, along with preparing several more questions.

At 12.30 I headed over to DfE for a Policy Priorities meeting between Political Members and Officers, in order for the Department to start examining certain sectors and policies in far greater detail over the next twelve months.

I was back at my office by 14.15 and from that point I was able to get on with various administrative tasks, correspondence and emails.

I left the office at 17.15 and was able to take the night off, other than making one quick call to a Constituent at 19.00.

Saturday morning I will be holding my monthly Constituency Surgery between 10.00 and 11.30am.

Hopefully I will also get an opportunity to start to review a file full of papers that a Constituent gave me last weekend, along with watching the Six Nations.