Blog 7th October '18This week was all about catching up with various administrative tasks and starting to prepare for this month’s Tynwald Court sitting, which gets underway on 16th October.

Last weekend was spent travelling down from the Highlands in Scotland to Liverpool before flying home on Sunday teatime.

On Saturday we left the cottage in Urray near Inverness and started the 300 or so miles drive from our to cottage to Tebay Services Hotel, which is just off the M6 near Penrith, surrounded by the dramatic Cumbrian Fells next to the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales.

I would definitely recommend this hotel if you are ever in the area.

On Sunday we called into Cartmel before stopping off and having a coffee at the Whitewater Hotel Spa and Leisure Club, Newby Bridge.

It was our first visit back to the hotel since we got married there in 2006.

We finally got home on Sunday for around 17.30.

I went back into the office for 7.45am on Monday and straight into catch up mode with various administrative tasks.

First job was to clear out my in-box and to respond to any outstanding emails and Constituency correspondence. At 9.30am I headed into Onchan for a Constituent meeting and to attend the Springfield Court Coffee morning.

I was back at my desk for around 11.30am and I spent the next four hours drafting a large number of letters and emails, along with reviewing a couple of ongoing Constituency issues.

At 15.45 I drove up to the Hospital for a meeting with the Director of Hospital Services, which related to another ongoing Constituency matter.

I have to say that I am very impressed with the way the Director of Hospital services has dealt with this enquiry on behalf of a local business.

I managed to get home for around 16.50, but then spent the next hour or so sending several more emails and making a couple of calls.

After tea I also started to look though the new Public Sector Housing Policy, which will go before Tynwald shortly.

In the office for 7.50am on Tuesday, but only briefly to complete a few small tasks, along with chatting with the Speaker of the House of Keys before driving up to the Grandstand at 9am for a meeting with a local business who wanted to discuss a few TT related issues.

Back to the office for 10.45am and from there I went up to the Barrool Suite for a presentation being given by the Department of Infrastructure on their new Housing Allocation Policy Paper.

Unfortunately, I had to leave the presentation slightly early, in order to return a couple of calls before walking down to the Villa Marina at 12.15 to attend the St. Ninian’s High School Annual Presentation of Awards.

Awards were also given out to the St. Ninian’s Lower School.

It was a real privilege to watch the students receiving various awards and accolades for their achievements over the last 12 months.

It was also an emotional afternoon and there was a minute of applause for a member of the teaching staff, Mr. Roberts, who passed away this week.

Congratulations to all the students and to Head Teacher Mr. Coole, the governors and teachers.

I called into M & S on the way back to the office and spent the last hour returning calls and answering a few emails.

I left the office at 17.10 and once home I needed to draft a couple more long emails, but I managed to finish at 19.30.

In the office on Wednesday for 8.20am as I needed to call into Tesco first. Fortunately, I only had one meeting scheduled on Wednesday so I was able to catch up with various things in and around the office.

Most of the morning was spent completing various tasks, including reviewing a couple of TT related papers, along with trying to get on top of emails and letters.

I also needed to draft 15 letters on various topics, but I was able to find some time to catch up with colleagues along the way.

At 13.40 Bill Shimmins, MHK and I drove to Cycle 360 to attend a meeting to discuss tourism, but more importantly how to increase activities and tourism opportunities around cycling holidays on the island.

We definitely already have the trails and paths etc to encourage more people to visit the Isle of Man, we simply need to bring everyone together.

Back to the office for around 15.00 and I spent the last couple of hours drafting two long emails in respect of an ongoing Planning Application dispute.

I left at 17.00 to drop a few things off at the house before driving into Onchan Village to attend a Constituency meeting.

I finally got home for 18.15.

Woke up on Thursday with the Manx Independent Newspaper headline focusing squarely around Tynwald Members’ expenses, which was on the back of me publishing my own expenses last month.

After I published my expenses again this year, like last year…., Isle of Man Newspapers contacted all Tynwald Members this year asking them directly how they spent their expenses.

I am certain it has upset a few of my colleagues, but I personally found it extremely difficult opening my pay-packet each month seeing “Members’ expenses” listed on my pay slip, but no actual rules or understanding of how those expenses should be spent…..

Prior to the 2016 House of Keys Elections, no one ever talked about expenses, so I made an election promise that I would publish details of my expenses in September each year.

Changes in respect of Members’ Expenses are now on the horizon and in my opinion they are long overdue.

Anyway, I was in the office for 7.50am on Thursday and got straight in to the Tynwald Order Paper, printing off a few reports and starting to work through various documents.

Just before 10am I walked over to DfE for a tourism meeting and catch up with officers.

The meeting lasted just over an hour and I was back at my desk for 11.20am.

The rest of the morning and lunchtime period was spent at my desk looking at the Steam Packet Consultation, along with starting to draft a submission before the Consultation closes on 7th October 2018.

At 14.00 I walked over to DfE for a discussion around the Festival of Motorcycle, which was ahead of a meeting with the Manx Motorcycle Club on Friday.

The meeting lasted around 90 minutes and I was back at my desk for 15.45.

The last hour or so was spent on the Tynwald Order Paper before heading home for around 17.10, but on the way home I needed to deal with a Constituency matter relating to Social Services.

Part of Thursday evening was also spent starting to go though the price structure review from the Manx Utilities Authority, but I was able to finish for around 20.00.

In the office for 8am on Friday as I continued to review the pricing structure from the Manx Utilities Authority. I also had a catch up with a colleague as we discussed a couple of items on the Tynwald Order Paper.

At 10am I walked over to DfE for a meeting with the Road Transport Licensing Committee, which was a general catch up, along with a discussion around the growing Cruise Industry and how to regulate tour buses and private tour companies.

The meeting finished just after 11.15am, at which time I headed back to the office to collect my keys before driving into Onchan for a Constituent meeting relating to ongoing parking issues.

Back to the office for 12.30 to catch up with a few correspondence items.

At 13.15 I walked over to DfE for a meeting with the Manx Motorcycle Club only to realise the the meeting was being held at the Grandstand. Fortunately, the Director of Motorsport also forgot the venue changed, so he was able to give me a lift.

The meeting started slightly late and lasted over two hours as we continue to review ways of improving the Festival of Motorcycling, which includes the Classic TT and the MGP.

Managed to get back to the office for 16.00, which gave sufficient time to print off the DfE agenda pack for next week, along with various other Tynwald Papers.

Finally left the office at 17.10.

Most of the weekend will be taken up preparing for Tynwald as there are several large reports on the Order Paper.

I am hoping to find sufficient time to finish drafting my letter in response to the Steam Packet’s User Agreement, but I have to seriously question the length of time given for this particular Consultation – only 15 days from opening to closing – especially considering the importance of the topic and the fact that the usual time period for consultations is in months, not days.