This week the focus of attention moved away from the Budget process and started looking towards the Legislative Council nominations and their hustings, which isn’t going to be easy especially with 15 Candidates looking for MHK support ahead of our elections on Monday 12th March 2018.

During the weekend, after celebrating Ellen’s birthday and trying to reduce my current stress levels, I received the information that the former Clerk of Onchan District Commissioners, Malcolm Hulme had passed away at teatime that Saturday.

We had only just returned from a five mile walk in and around the Village on Sunday morning when I received this very sad news.

Unfortunately, everything else I had planned to complete or undertake on Sunday simply went out of the window, other than trying to draft a tribute to Malcolm who was passionate in his service to the Community of Onchan.

I did however take the opportunity to listen to Alf Cannan, MHK on Manx Radio’s Sunday Opinion Programme, who was outlining his 2018 Budget.

I went into the office for 8am on Monday and with no meetings and briefings in the morning, I spent the first half of the day drafting several long letters that will be sent out later on in the week.

I also finally got on top of my emails and other correspondence from the weekend, and I also took the opportunity to print off my DED agenda pack ahead of the Department meeting being held on Wednesday.

The morning period went by very quickly as it normally does, but I also ensured that I found a few minutes to call Malcolm’s mum and dad to pass on my sincere condolences.

Before I realised, it was 14.00 and time to attend the hustings for the first eight Candidates, which was being held in the Barrool Suite.

After a three minute opening speech by each candidate, the Speaker then opened the hustings for questions from the MHKs. The whole meeting was recorded by MTTV and the hustings finished at 16.45.

Just enough time to respond to several emails before leaving the office at 17.30.

No sign yet of the big snowfall forecasted this week, but there was a light covering of snow in the garden on Tuesday.

Despite the cold weather I still managed to get into the office at 8.15am and I genuinely thought I had the wrong time as there were a lot of Members already in the office.

It all became apparent, as I totally forgot that Clare Bettison, MHK had organised a small gathering in the Barrool Suite at 9am to say goodbye to the LegCo members who were leaving office shortly. Members and staff of Tynwald were all invited, which was a very kind gesture and very much appreciated, and it gave us all a final opportunity to say farewell to some old colleagues.

At 9.50am we headed into the House of Keys for Tuesday’s sitting, which was quite a short sitting with only five questions for Oral Answer and a further one for Written reply.

The Data Protection Bill 2018 had its Clauses stages and there was the third reading of the Airport and Civil Aviation (Amendment) Bill 2018, along with the Consideration of Council Amendments in respect of the Credit Unions (Amendment) Bill 2017.

The sitting finished at 10.40am and from there I did two interviews with Manx Radio regarding the Budget and the TT Grandstand Scoreboard, which needs some urgent works. I have already posted my thoughts on this year’s Budget, but the TT Grandstand Scoreboard is an iconic part of the TT, along with the work undertaken by the Cubs and Scouts each year.

Like most things relating to the previous couple of Governments, the big decision relating to the future of the TT Scoreboard should have been taken many years ago but it is a difficult political decision to make. That decision will be finally made over the next couple of years and hopefully it will fit around the roadworks scheduled on Glencrutchery Road in 2020.

I then spent the next couple of hours at my desk catching up with emails and finishing off drafting some correspondence.

At 13.00 we went up to the Barool Suite for a presentation given by the Department of Education on the new proposals for St Mary’s RC Primary School.

We definitely have some fantastic projects on the horizon in order to improve the overall quality of teaching here on the Isle of Man, especially for future generations.

Once the presentation finished at 14.00, I headed into Onchan to complete some Constituent work before returning to the office at 15.00.

The rest of the afternoon was spent going through the DED Agenda Pack ahead of the Department meeting on Wednesday morning, responding to emails and a general catch up with colleagues, along with drafting a long email on behalf of a Constituent re. a housing application before leaving the office 17.30.

Once home I dealt with a couple more Constituent enquiries and I took the opportunity to draft a few words ahead of Malcolm’s funeral next week.

I finally finished for 21.00.

Still only a light covering of snow across the island on Wednesday morning, but we definitely had sub-zero freezing conditions that were causing a lot of trouble across the island.

Many of the roads and pavements were covered in thick ice on Wednesday morning, which made the driving conditions very difficult but I still managed to get in the office for 8.15am.

I spent the first hour drafting a few notes for the DfE meeting before walking over to the Department at 9.15am. We held the usual Political meeting with the Minister, which turned into a one to one as we were a little short on Political team members for the first meeting.

At 10am we started our Department meeting, which included a presentation on GDPR (“General Data Protection Regulation”) coming in and how it will affect individual Government Departments in the future.

GDPR is a new regulation from the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission which intends to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the European Union.

Not entirely sure why the Isle of Man is following their lead, I will review the Consultation over the weekend.

The Department meeting finished at 12.40 and it was then a real rush to get something to eat and to answer a couple of items of Constituent correspondence before attending a Tynwald briefing on Substance Misuse, which was given by the DHSC at 13.00.

The presentation finished at 14.00, but I needed to leave slightly early in order to prepare for the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting, which also started at 14.00.

The PAC continues to review and look through the overspend at Noble’s Hospital, which is ongoing.

The meeting finished at 16.00 and from there I went straight in to a brief meeting with the Tynwald Clerk. I then dealt with two Constituency matters relating to a planning application and an immigration application.

Just enough time to have a meeting with a LegCo Candidate before heading home at 17.20.

Wide awake at 3.30am on Thursday morning, not through any stress or things running though my mind, but simply because we had found out that the water pipe outside our home had frozen. Unfortunately, we have an old cottage and our main water supply goes through a stone wall, so I found the blow torch and I spent 15 minutes warming up the wall outside at 3.45am….

With the water supply back working and despite the bitterly cold weather outside, I went back to bed for an hour, but I still managed to get into the office for 8.10am.

Originally I wasn’t planning to go into the office on Thursday, but my iPad wasn’t working and I needed to reset my password in the office. I did take the opportunity to print off a number of reports that I will need to review over the next few days.

Once I left the office I completed a couple of personal tasks before heading into Onchan for a Constituent meeting regarding an ongoing planning dispute.

I then headed home at lunchtime and spent most of the afternoon reading through reports including the West Midlands Quality Review Report and several documents on GDPR, which I have highlighted earlier in this Blog.

I also had to draft a number of detailed emails, but on reflection it was a relatively easy day.

The UK continues to be hit hard by heavy snow, sub-zero conditions and high winds, but fortunately the Isle of Man is only getting the sub-zero conditions and high winds – no sign of the heavy snowfall yet……

I was in the office for 8.15am and with no briefings or meetings scheduled on Friday morning I was able to undertake various administrative functions, especially starting to prepare for the oral evidence Committee Session with the DOI Minister and CEO next Friday and for the House of Keys sitting on Tuesday.

Mid morning I headed into town with Chris Robertshaw, MHK to grab a coffee as we took the opportunity to discuss the island’s tourism sector. A really good meeting and an excellent insight into Chris’s industry experience lasting over 30 years.

The Isle of Man was hit by high tides, strong winds and sub-zero conditions on Friday and the Promenade was in very poor state with considerable damage to pavements and fencing.

Back to the office to carry on with my prep work for next week, along with drafting a couple of social media posts.

Just before 14.00 we headed up to the Barrool Suite for the second hustings for the remaining seven candidates standing for the Legislative Council. Again, the Candidates were each given three minutes to make any opening remarks before the meeting was opened up to questions from the floor.

The hustings were very interesting and it is worth watching via MTTV, because there was a real mixed bag of Candidates. There was definitely a diverse range of people, especially in respect of qualifications, life experience, vision and outlook.

I was also surprised by the different views given by individual MLC Candidates in respect of their future role within the Manx Parliament, if elected. This simply highlights the confusion surrounding the MLC role at the moment, which isn’t down to the fault of the Candidates but because of the Lord Lisvane Report and its recommendations, which have become somewhat confusing……

Some Candidates would want to work in a Government Department, some wouldn’t. Some felt their role should only surround legislation and scrutiny, while a couple of Candidates definitely appeared more like House of Keys Constituency Candidates than all-Island MLCs……

The hustings finished at 16.15.

I spent the next hour going through the list of the Amendments for the Clauses Stages of the Abortion Bill, which will be going through the House of Keys on Tuesday.

I left the office at 17.10.

On Friday evening Ellen and I went to watch Jesus Christ Super Star, which was being shown on a big screen at St Peter’s Church and included a Pie and Pea supper….

A wonderful evening and the production was fantastic.

Nothing planned for the weekend, other than catching up with a lot of reading.