Blog 18 March '18I sometimes wonder if lessons are actually learned in Isle of Man Politics, because it is a phrase that is being used all the time by Government Departments and elected MHKs, but the same mistakes continue to repeat themselves.

If we scroll back 12 months the Court House in Ramsey was all over social media and in the local press. Fortunately, the sale of the Court House eventually went through and the property was secured by Ramsey Town Commissioners on behalf of the Town.

Fast forward 12 months again, this time it is the Old Castletown Police Station that has caught the public’s attention after the Department of Home Affairs put the property on the open market for sale.

It is worth mentioning that I am trustee of Manx National Heritage (MNH) through the sponsoring Department, which is the Department for Enterprise. It might also be worth mentioning that MNH made a formal application to the Treasury to secure funds and to complete the purchase of the property, but that offer was declined.

As was suggested in Tynwald on Tuesday morning, MNH could have used charitable funds, but most donations to the trust are given for a specific purpose, and also this is property that is owned and managed by a Government Department and MNH is part of the overall Government structure, even if that is at an arm’s length…..

So a simple transfer between Government Department and a Statutory Board makes perfect sense, and it would ensure that the building is open for business as quickly as possible.

I will touch on this again later on in this week’s Blog.

Anyway, back to this week’s activities – a lazy start on Monday and with Ellen taking the day off I took the opportunity to stay at home for the first hour.

From there I headed up to Springfield Court just before 10am to join some residents for their coffee morning, which I always enjoy but I hadn’t had the opportunity to pencil in any dates until this week.

I managed to get into the office for 11am to catch up with correspondence and make a few calls, along with printing off some additional Tynwald information.

At 11.45am I walked over to MNH for a workshop session, which was something slightly different.

MNH has been undertaking a structure, business and operational review over the last 12 months. On Monday we were looking at how the organisation could or should look in 25 years’ time, which isn’t that easy, especially when most businesses look no further than 2, 5 or 10 years into the future.

A lot of blue sky thinking, but It was a really good session and lots of discussions around responsibilities, structure, funding, threats, impacts and opportunities, etc.

The workshop finished at 17.00, so I took the opportunity to walk home which took me around 50 minutes.

Straight after tea I started working on a couple of Tynwald items before calling it a day at 20.00.

In the office at 8.10am on Tuesday morning and the early part of the morning was spent continuing to prepare for Tynwald, especially writing up several notes and questions regarding the Old Police Station in Castletown.

At 10.30am we headed into Tynwald Court for this month’s sitting, which started with the President welcoming four of the five newly elected MLCs (one new MLC had leave of absence due to longstanding commitments).

There were 10 Questions for oral answer, including one for me to answer as the Chairman of the Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee, along with a further 6 questions for written reply.

In addition, there was also an emergency Question relating to the Old Police Station, followed later by an urgent Motion on the matter, which has now been deferred for a couple of months in order to allow further discussions to take place between the Treasury and MNH.

Most of the morning session in Tynwald was taken up with various debates and discussions, including an extension and alteration to St Mary’s RC Primary School and the Harbours Strategy.

On this very rare occasion, there was no Tynwald presentation at lunchtime, which meant that we actually had a free period over lunchtime on Tuesday.

Back to Tynwald Court at 14.30 to continue with this month’s Order Paper and the various Motions and Orders for consideration.

There were over 30 items tabled for consideration in this month’s Tynwald sitting, along with a Supplementary Order Paper in order to elect some new members onto various Tynwald Committees.

The sitting finished just after 20.00, but there was also a fitting and wonderful tribute at the end of the sitting by the President to James Davis of Manx Radio before he takes up a new employment opportunity.

I certainly wish him all the very best for the future.

I managed to get home for 20.30 and after sending a few items of correspondence I called it a day at 21.15.

Despite Tynwald finishing in one day, I was back in the office for 7.50am on Wednesday as I needed to watch a couple of videos and draft various questions.

The videos relating to the sale of Salisbury Street Nursing Home and the procurement process, which has been picked up by most media outlets this week.

I also managed to catch up with correspondence before walking down to the Sea Terminal to meet up with David Murray, Managing Director of Adorn Domiciliary Care at 9.15am.

I was also joined by Chris Robertshaw, MHK as we discussed Salisbury Street and any concerns that David had.

Although the meeting lasted almost two hours, I left the meeting with far more questions than answers, so I am not entirely sure where to go from here…..

Back to the office for 11.30am and other than speaking to a few colleagues on various issues and topics, I was able to get my head down to continue to prepare for the Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee oral session with the DOI on Friday afternoon.

At 13.45 I went up to the Barrool Suite for a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meeting, but I had to leave slightly early in order to print off some documents and information for the Public Accounts Committee Meeting, which started at 14.40.

The main focus of the PAC meeting was on preparing for the oral session with the Treasury Minister and the Chief Financial Officer in April.

The meeting finished at 16.50 and I still needed to respond to some correspondence and return a few phone calls before leaving the office 17.25.

After grabbing a quick tea and a shower I headed down to the Villa Marina for the official TT launch at 19.00.

A fantastic night with top entertainment from the TT riders. The Villa Marina was definitely busier than last year, so a massive thank you to everyone who came along to support the official TT launch.

I finally got home for 23.10.

Another early start again on Thursday morning and I was in the office for 7.50am, but with only one Constituent meeting scheduled on 10am on Thursday I was able to catch up with various things in the office.

The Constituent meeting related to three planning applications and trying to understand why the applications were still pending after five months…..

At 12 noon we walked over to Government building for a presentation by Mr Paul Burnett, Independent Safeguarding Chair and Deborah Brayshaw, Chief Social Worker.

The presentation gave an overview to Members of Tynwald regarding general safeguarding awareness, safeguarding boards and information sharing. It was a really good presentation and I have nothing but the utmost respect for the Island’s Social Services and the difficult job that officers must undertake on a daily basis….

The meeting finished just after 14.00 and sending a few e-mails, I took the opportunity to walk home, which took about 50 minutes.

Once home I caught up with some personal tasks before I started to go through the Open Skies Policy ahead of the Committee tomorrow, but it was an easy day and I managed to finish at 17.00.

In the office at 8.10am on Friday and with no meetings or briefings schedule in the morning, I was able to just get on with my Committee work, along with taking the opportunity to draft some correspondence and letters, which is a continuing item in this role.

At 12.15 there was an update on the Independent Healthcare Review being undertaken by the Treasury Department.

The presentation also confirmed that the review will be carried out by Sir Jonathan Michael who will look at options to provide modern, fit-for-purpose health and social care services that meet the needs of the Isle of Man.

He certainly is a distinguished clinician and former chief executive of three NHS Foundation Trusts in the UK has been appointed to spearhead the fundamental review of the Island’s healthcare system.

Sir Jonathan has been tasked with setting out recommendations to address the current and long-term healthcare challenges facing the Isle of Man.

An interim report will be submitted to Tynwald in January 2019, with the final report presented for discussion at the May 2019 sitting.

Unfortunately, I had to leave that slightly early as we had an Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee at 13.30, which was a pre-meeting ahead of the Oral Session with DOI, which started at 14.00.

The Committee Session focused on the island’s Open Skies Policy, along with a general catch up on Air and Sea Services and the recent concerns relating to Airport Security Services more generally.

We only managed to cover the first part of the evidence session and a further session is being scheduled for a future date.

I managed to get back to my desk for 16.50, which enabled me to send a couple of emails before leaving the office at 17.15.

Hopefully a quiet weekend ahead……