Blog 23 Aug 20After many island students were left disappointed and upset last week with lower than predicted exam grades, it was fantastic news this week that Cambridge International and Ofqual have done a quick U-turn in respect of those exam results.

Due to the fact that Covid-19 had cancelled all exams in the 2020, the exam results were meant to take into account past performance, teachers‘ input and any mock exams results etc. Unfortunately, an exam results algorithm programme being used downgraded around 42% of island students’ exam results, which was greeted with shock and anger by many schools, teachers, students and parents, and rightly so….

Although grades will now be re-issued it has already created further problems, unfortunately, as many island students affected by the original exams results have already looked at alternative options in respect of their university plans for the next academic year.

The Education Minister, Alex Allinson, MHK hopes that the U-turn will start to repair some of the damage, but many island students now have a nervous wait trying to secure their original first choice of university over the next few weeks.

Let’s hope that many our of our island students can still secure the courses and their university of choice ahead of the next academic year.

The Douglas South By-Election campaign continues and by this time next week we will have two new Members of the House of Keys who will serve until September 2021. With 10 Candidates standing in the by-election it will be interesting to see who the people of Douglas South will elect, and if those two individuals will be re-elected in the General Election in 2021.

Most people I speak to have two clear front runners, but having watched most of the interviews and debate, I feel there is at least one surprise on the horizon.

As for my own activities this week, I was able to take some time off, but I was also starting to prepare for October when the new Parliamentary session gets underway, which will be the last Parliamentary year of this administration.

As for last weekend, I was in the office before 8.30am on Saturday morning to catch up with a few things, along with printing off various papers relating to a planning appeal. My Political Surgery at the Community Hub got underway at 10am and a few people called in, but it wasn’t as busy as the previous months.

One Constituent called in to discuss key decisions made by their local GP, which is very difficult for me as an MHK because I am not a medical professional in anyway, so the only thing I can do is to sit and listen. I did however also take the time on Saturday afternoon to go though the complaint documentation and the Independent Review Body reports, which I promised the Constituent.

Straight after the surgery I had two Constituency meetings, which meant I didn’t actually get home until around 13.00. I then had to draft a couple of emails and to start going through a planning application appeal, which DEFA asked me to review on behalf of the DEFA Minister, Geoffrey Boot, MHK who was conflicted.

The planning appeal took me a couple of hours to go through along with drafting correspondence back to the department. This meant that I missed Onchan’s Community Day, which was taking place in Onchan Park and I also had to give my apologies to VJ Day celebrations that I was also invited to attend.

I can only offer sincere apologies for missing these key events in Onchan, but unfortunately it was just one of those weekends in which I had to get some work done as quickly as possible. As I mentioned, I also had to go through a couple of Constituent issues, which involved going through various reports before drafting follow-up correspondence.

I finally finished around 16.45 on Saturday.

As for Sunday Ellen and I spent part of the morning in the garden, but I had to go into the office towards lunchtime, in order to prepare some correspondence relating to an ongoing Constituent issue, so I didn’t actually finish until 17.00.

As for the rest of my week, although Parliamentary work has finished until October it was still busy with a lot of constituent and department issues.

On Monday I was able to work from home and the first part of the morning was spent preparing for the DEFA Environment Directorate meeting, which got underway at 11am.

The actual virtual meeting only lasted around 90 minutes.

I mentioned briefly last week about the anti-social behaviour happening in Onchan at the moment, and I know one constituent criticised me for the lack of information in my blog and in the public domain on this particular topic as an MHK. Unfortunately, on occasions you are working behind the scenes speaking to people, trying to find solutions, so there wasn’t much you can actually say at that particular moment in time.

However, I can assure Constituents that both Onchan MHK’s have been in communication with the Isle of Man Constabulary over the past couple of weeks, in order to ensure that patrols in Onchan during the summer months are increased.

This is now happening and there is also a greater presence around our village in the evening, and I am extremely grateful to the Constabulary for their support.

Unfortunately, with an ongoing investigation I also have to be very careful what I actually post online. That said, I am extremely grateful that this lady’s family contacted me on Monday to try and look at various options, in order to protect the older residents of our Community from this type of anti-social behaviour.

I also take this opportunity to also offer my deepest condolences to the family during this very difficult time.

Part of Monday afternoon was also spent having an exchange of correspondence with the Chief Constable, in order to obtain his thoughts and looking closer at neighbourhood policing and how we can build the foundations for keeping the Isle of Man safe. In fact the Chief Constable’s response was very honest and blunt at times as he highlighted some of the serious problems we are facing as a society at the moment, not just in Onchan but across the island.

I have asked the Chief Constable if we can look closer at their idea of “Neighbourhood Teams”, which will involve Police Officers, Special Constables and members of the Community, which I have already volunteered for.

As for the rest of Monday it was spent either on the phone or sending various correspondence.

Another early start on Tuesday as I needed to draft various emails in respect of an ongoing dispute, which I am desperately trying to help resolve before it reaches the Courts. Just before 10am I headed up to Manx Radio to do an interview with Tim Glover on my role as the Children’s Champion and the issues facing Onchan at the moment in respect of anti-social behaviour.

I then went into the office for a couple of hours to catch up with a few things. Back home for lunchtime and I took the opportunity to get into the garden for an hour, but still a very busy day on the phone and emails. That said, I was also able to get my head down working on a couple of projects.

Not much to report on Wednesday. I went into the office just before 8am as I had two meetings scheduled, but both were cancelled mid-morning.

So the whole day was spent behind the desk, which meant that I was able to fully catch up with all outstanding correspondence etc. I was even able to go through a number of Government reports ahead of the Tynwald sitting in October.

I left the office at 17.15.

As for Thursday I was able to take most of the day off, but a couple of hours were spent on the phone and responding to various correspondence received throughout the day.

With “Storm Ellen” hitting the island on Thursday and Friday there was certainly plenty of rain and high winds around – it almost feels like autumn instead of the height of summer.

I worked from home on Friday and the morning was spent reviewing some documentation that a Constituent asked me to review, which took a couple of hours, along with drafting some notes.

Part of Friday was taken up going through a DOI agenda pack ahead of Monday’s meeting, but I was able to take a few hours off to catch up with a few chores in the house.

Not sure about the weekend yet, but almost certainly I will be working on a few things and calling into the office at some point.