Blog 16 Oct 17This week was the first sitting of Tynwald for this Parliamentary term – it is hard to believe that we have now been doing this role for over 12 months…….

We also encountered Hurricane Ophelia that blew across the island on Monday afternoon and into the evening, and it recorded over 90 mph winds at its peak.

The Hurricane also caused many road closures, cancellations and delays as the island was battered by severe gale force winds and costal overtopping, but once again our island’s emergency services and volunteer sector were out in force and did a fantastic job.

Monday was a straightforward and relatively easy day……. in the office for 8.10am and I had no meetings scheduled because I had already blocked the morning off, in order to ensure that I was fully prepared for this week’s Tynwald sitting.

The morning was spent going the though the rest of the Order Paper and writing up several notes. Blocking some time in my calendar is a new idea, but it should ensure that I am better prepared for Tynwald going forward compared to previous Tynwald sittings.

At 14.00 I attended a briefing in the Barrool Suite for a presentation and Q&A on the Independent Report of an Investigation on behalf of Tynwald into allegations relating to the management of case files and relationships with service users in the Department of Health and Social Care, Children and Family Services.

There was also a second briefing on the Select Committee on the Functioning of Tynwald, which proved a very interesting discussion amongst the members.

Once the briefings finished, I was able to send a couple of e-mails before heading home early at 16.40, in order to batten down the hatches as Hurricane Ophelia continued through the night.

After taking Monday evening off to watch a couple of episodes of House of Cards (US series), I felt relaxed and ready for Tynwald on Tuesday.

In the office for 8.25am and the early part of the morning was spent reading through several separate reports and papers. There was certainly an excellent buzz in and around the Tynwald Chamber on Tuesday morning, it almost felt like a new school term.

At 10.30am we headed down to the Tynwald Chamber for this month’s sitting, which started with welcoming the new Bishop of Sodor & Man, the Right Revd Peter Eagles, along with the His Excellency Sir Richard Gozney.

It was large a Order Paper with 44 items, not forgetting a combined 68 oral or written questions on the Question Paper.

After the oral questions the Chief Minister gave his state of the nation address. I was especially pleased to hear that he is setting up a Committee looking into Manx Gas prices and the agreement, something I have been asking for for many months – we just now need to appoint an independent regulator for utilities.

The Services for children and young people and the management of case files and relationships with service users report was never going to be easy, but I am glad the information has now been published publicly.

I am also delighted to see the living wage report was accepted. My only concern is that it doesn’t cost jobs in the near future – but it is a voluntary agreement at the moment.

Lunchtime was taken up with a presentation to Tynwald members by three parents who are trying to highlight concerns relating to babies born in the summer and when should a child start school on the Isle of Man – at the age of four or at the age of five?

It was an excellent presentation and it raised several questions regarding our Primary School Admissions Policy, but I felt the parents presented the evidence very professionally.

Back to the Tynwald chamber for 14.30 and other than a quick twenty minute break at around 17.10 Tynwald Court continued to sit until all business was completed at around 21.40.

A few members popped into the Prospect for a drink to unwind after the sitting but I still managed to get home for 22.50.

Just enough time to respond to couple of e-mails before calling it a day at 23.15.

Back in the office for 8.25am on Wednesday and with Tynwald finishing in just one day I was able to catch up with several ongoing items. Departments will sometimes fill calendar slots just in case Tynwald finishes early, but I was fortunate not to have any appointments, which meant my day was relatively free.

I also spent the morning going through a few TT procurement decision papers, along with other Department papers. I also able to catch up with Constituent correspondence and draft a couple of questions for the House of Keys sitting.

At lunchtime Tynwald members attended a presentation on the new Safeguarding Bill, which I will be supporting.

The rest of the afternoon was also spent catching up on administration etc.

I left the office at 17.20.

With no meetings or briefings scheduled on Thursday I was able to take the day off and focus my attention on various tasks at home, including clearing up tons of leaves, which is a pain to say the least……

Still had to respond to various e-mails and take numerous calls throughout the day but it was good to have a day off.

Back in the office again for 8.20am on Friday and with Tynwald now behind us for this month, it was a fairly easy day.

The morning was spent reading through a tourism consultation document, drafting a couple more questions for the House of Keys sitting and making several calls. Mid morning I headed over to DED for a tourism meeting, in order to go over a policy / consultation paper, along with obtaining a general update on the industry.

Once the meeting finished we headed straight into a joint TT and Tourism meeting to review and sign off various grants and financial support applications for the 2018 TT and other tourism events.

At lunchtime I attended a further meeting with the DED Minister and some stakeholders who were looking to put on an event at the back end of TT 2018.

Back to the office and the rest of the afternoon was spend going through a number of admin tasks.

I left the office at 17.10 and after tea, Ellen and I headed into Onchan village to attend the 2nd Onchan Scout Group awards, which is always an excellent event.

Back home for 21.30 and after sending a couple of e-mails I called it a day at 22.00.

Saturday morning will be taken up with my Political Surgery being held in the Community Centre (the Hub). I also have to prepare for a scrutiny Committee meeting on Monday, along with reading the House of Keys Order Paper ahead of Tuesday’s sitting over the weekend.

We’re also hoping to attend one of the Abbeylands Harvest Festival services on Sunday.