Blog 1 Oct 17Back in the office this week after my trip to Scotland attending the European Dark Skies Conference and spending a couple of days in bed with a serious case of Man Flu….

I still wasn’t 100% fit on Monday morning but I certainly felt a lot better than I did the previous week. In the office for 8.25am and the day was all about catching up with e-mails, messages and phone calls.

Despite trying to keep on top of e-mails etc last week my inbox had certainly filled up during the week, not to mention that I was also very behind with my Tynwald Scrutiny Committee work. I started to work through my mailbox before I attended a Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee meeting, which was scheduled to take evidence on Tuesday morning.

I spent a lot of the time on Sunday going through the evidence and writing numerous notes, but in the end the oral evidence sessions due to be taken on Tuesday and Friday were rescheduled by the Committee.

At lunchtime on Monday, I had a further meeting with families who choose to Home Educate as they remain seriously concerned about potential changes and tighter regulation on the Isle of Man for those families who choose to educate their children at home.

It will be interesting to see how this item progresses, especially when there doesn’t appear to be any evidence to show that the current arrangements have failed, which raises the question why change them?

With the Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee sessions cancelled I then turned my attention to the Public Accounts Committee meeting being held on Friday. This involved printing off several hundred pages of evidence that I will need to review before Friday afternoon.

I also went to meet with the Isle of Man Handmaids who were lobbying outside Tynwald with regard to the forthcoming draft abortion Bill.

Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to catch up with e-mails and messages before leaving the office at 17.15, but hopefully I will fully catch up on Tuesday.

I was also meant to attend a meeting with Onchan Commissioners in the evening, but I was still under the weather so I gave my apologies.

Tuesday was a strange day as the oral evidence session organised by the Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee was rescheduled, which meant that my calendar was relatively light..

I went into the office for 8am to print off several more e-mails and reports in connection with Glen Truan Golf Course, along with the planning application to reinstate the golf course and to build a restaurant and 55 log cabins.

I have been invited to attend a public meeting on Thursday evening in my capacity as Political Member with responsibility for Tourism within DED.

Once I printed off all the relevant documentation needed, I headed back into Onchan in order to take some photos of an overgrown tree, which I am hoping will be taken down over the next couple of months. I also took the opportunity to inspect some gullies and soak-aways, which are causing some local flooding in and around Onchan village.

Thereafter I headed home to read through the reports and planning application, along with drafting some notes ahead of Thursday’s public meeting in Bride.

Most of Tuesday afternoon was spent continuing to prepare for the Public Accounts Committee meeting scheduled for Friday. I finished at 17.00, but after tea I caught up with a couple of phone messages and went through my DED agenda pack before calling it a day at 21.20.

Wednesday was a busy day with back to back meetings, in the office for 8am which gave me an opportunity to send out several e-mails before Martin Perkins, MHK and I headed over to DED.

With the Minister currently away, the Political Members still had a meeting amongst themselves and we took the opportunity to discuss a couple of Department matters, including TT Homestay. The Members then went into the Boardroom for the Department meeting, which started with a social media briefing for Members.

The agenda pack was relatively light so I was able to get back to the office to catch up with e-mails and phone calls mid morning. At lunch time Tim Crookall, MLC and I continued with our briefings and meetings with all major stakeholders involved with the TT and the Festival of Motorcycling.

Today’s meeting was with a director of the company that has produced all the merchandise, including T-shirts, caps and jackets, etc in recent years.

It was another excellent meeting held at our Legislative Buildings, which gave us anther opportunity to gain a greater understanding and insight into the TT and the Festival of Motorcycling events, especially with those core businesses involved.

Unfortunately, the meeting was cut slightly short after 90 minutes as I needed to run over to DED for a tourism briefing ahead of the Glen Truan Golf Course public meeting. Once that meeting finished I went straight into another meeting relating to TT Homestay as the tender process has now been completed; a press release will be issued in due course.

The final meeting of the day was with the DED CEO, Mark Lewin and again the meeting related to the TT and the Festival of Motorcycling as we continued to give our feedback to the senior management, which hopefully will help improve the overall quality of the events next year.

Back to the office briefly in order to print off some additional documents and reports needed for Friday’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting. I left the office at 17.10 and after tea I continued to work through the PAC files and reports before finishing at 22.25.

Thursday was about reading, reading and more reading – I didn’t go directly into the office on Thursday morning but instead I headed to the post office to collect a couple of parcels before retuning home for 8.30am.

Thereafter, I spent most of the morning reading through my Manx National Heritage agenda pack, along with making several more notes. I then did two telephone interviews with Manx Radio – the first interview related to Bushy’s securing the Villa Marina Gardens for 2018, which is excellent news for visitors and the overall TT offering.

The second interview was on Manx Gas who have confirmed that they will be looking at the charging structures, which is again excellent news and long overdue for Manx Gas customers.

From there I continued to work through my PAC folder of documents and reports ahead of our meeting tomorrow. I stopped only to put away a delivery of logs, which took around an hour.

We would normally buy our wood for the winter in June or July but for some reason I just totally forgot this year and our usual source at St. John’s Sawmill had sold out. Fortunately, I spotted an advert on Facebook and we are very pleased with the amount of wood we got for £150.

At lunchtime I headed into the office to catch up with administrative tasks and e-mails before walking over to Manx National Heritage for our board meeting. Unfortunately, I had to leave the meeting slightly early at 17.15.

I just had time a grab a sandwich and a quick change of clothing before heading down to Bride for the public meeting relating to the Glen Truan Golf Course development that started at 19.00.

There were at least 130 people in the small hall and more standing outside and it was an extremely passionate but fantastic meeting, with local residents outlining their concerns in respect of the pending planning application.

My role was to try and stay neutral, listen to those concerns but importantly answer questions relating to DED’s tourism strategy, which is to increase the island’s tourism market by around 2% to 4% each year.

I was joined on stage by Tim Baker, MHK, with Dr. Alex Allinson, MHK.

I finally got back home for 22.30 and after sending several e-mails I called it a day at 23.40.

Friday was taken up by just two key meetings and both were as difficult as each other. The day started with me reading through a planning report and an enforcement notice relating to a complex planning issue, which has been ongoing for several years.

Just before 10am I attended a two and half hour meeting onsite with planning officers, the applicants and their quantity surveyor, in order to fully discuss the planning enforcement notice. My involvement was to try and secure an extension to the enforcement notice and to help calm things down a little. That said, I found the planning officers extremely helpful and considerate regarding the enforcement notice and current situation the applicants find themselves in.

I finally got into the office for lunchtime, which gave me time to catch up with a few e-mails. The afternoon was taken up with the Public Accounts Committee meeting, which also lasted over two and a half hours as we continue to prepare to take oral evidence in respect of the DHSC budget overspend.

I left the office at 17.30, but once home I started to catch up with e-mails and didn’t really finish until around 21.00.

On Saturday afternoon I will be attending the Enthronement Service for Bishop Peter Eagles in St. German’s Cathedral in Peel and on Sunday afternoon I will be attending an Onchan Live at Home event being held in Onchan Park.

I also need to find the time to read through 341 pages of the Economic Policy Review Committee report into Open Skies over the weekend.