Blog 2 Dec 18I am not entirely sure how to start this week’s Blog, other than saying it has been a thought-provoking week, especially around the amount of pressure and responsibilities individual MHKs are expected to take on board from time to time.

As I have said previously, I am more than happy to take on these pressures as part of the role, but I have had a couple of Constituents this week saying that I look totally exhausted, which is a serious concern.

I don’t believe it is due to the role I am undertaking, but more relating to an actual situation I faced last weekend when a young adult found himself homeless.

I was contacted by a very well respected third party and I was more than happy to get involved and help out wherever possible.

The individual was put into a hotel (paid for by the 3rd party) for the weekend, giving me as an MHK the opportunity and time to draft and send several emails to various departments and individuals relating to benefits and rental accommodation etc, which I did on Sunday morning.

Unfortunately, the individual also then got himself thrown out of the hotel, which meant he was walking the streets on Saturday and Sunday. This obviously didn’t make me feel particularly good with myself, because I know I could/should have done more; on the other hand, he was given a second chance which he failed to recognise……

Anyway, on Sunday lunchtime Ellen and I also took the opportunity to meet up with a group of close friends – we (excluding Ellen) were all bullied by a particular person in an office where we all worked in the past, which has united us as a collective group.

We have been meeting up from time to time for several years and it was nice to catch up.

On Sunday evening I was invited to attend the Champion of Champions snooker final, which was being held at Finch Hill Snooker Club. I guess most people these days don’t actually know that I was heavily involved in Snooker, Pool and Darts on the island for around 28 years before being elected as an MHK, so it was nice to be invited back to see so many old faces.

Congratulations to John Kennish who defeated Peter Crellin in the final.

As for this week, it was the usual routine. On Monday I was in the office for around 8am in order to catch up with several emails relating to the activities over the weekend.

Just after 9.15am I drove up to the Mount Murray Golf Club to attend this year’s Manx Blind Welfare Society Author’s Breakfast, which was very well attended again this year.

I think there must have been around 140 people in the venture despite a few issues over this year’s author, which didn’t matter in the end because we didn’t get just one single author as in previous years, but instead had seven local authors from the Rushen Heritage Trust.

I think everyone in the room genuinely enjoyed the presentation from Hugh Davidson, MBE on behalf of the group, which told the fascinating story of women’s internment during World War II in Port Erin and Port St Mary.

The book is entitled “Friend or Foe” and is now on sale.

A very special mention to the Lexicon Bookshop in Douglas and in particularly the lady who commented on my weekly Blog, which was very much appreciated….

It always surprises me when people comment on my weekly Blog, especially when I am out and about, but I am extremely grateful for the comments and feedback….. I am just glad I can give a small insight into this fantastic role.

As for the hosts, I think most people know what a wonderful job the Manx Blind Welfare do across the island and in our Community, and I am proud to support them as a Charity.

I was back in the office for 12.20 to catch up with correspondence and phone calls.

At 13.00 I went up to the Barrool Suite to attend an invitation from the Positive Action Group and IOM Freethinkers to discuss Dignity and Choice in Dying, in order for members to discuss the topic with Tom Davies, Dignity in Dying’s Director of Campaign and Communications, along with Mick Murray, who has personal experience on the topic.

It was a good discussion, just disappointing on the number of Members who actually attended.

Unfortunately, I had to leave the presentation slightly early to walk over to DfE to attend a meeting, which related to someone looking for tourism support for a particular project, which would require support from the Visit IOM Agency in the new year.

I finally got back to the office for around 15.00 and I was able to spend the last couple of hours at my desk catching up with various things, along with a couple of Constituent issues before leaving at 17.10.

At 18.50 I headed down to the Manx Legion Club for a public meeting with the Positive Action Group and the Isle of Man Freethinkers, the topic for discussion once again being Dignity and Choice in Dying. As with the Tynwald Members’ presentation earlier in the day, the guest speakers were again Tom Davies and Mick Murray.

Some real thought-provoking questions raised during the Q & A from both sides of the debate.

I got home for around 21.15 but was able to finish at 22.00 after I had sent a couple of emails etc.

In the office for 8am on Tuesday to prepare for the House of Keys sitting, which started at 10am with 12 Oral Questions and 7 Written Questions.

I had one question, which related to what Respite Care is available through both the DHSC and privately.

We also went though the Clauses stage of the Criminal Evidence Bill 2018.

The sitting finished at 11.45am at which stage I headed back to the office to catch with a few things, including drafting a couple of letters.

Just before the House of the Keys sitting we had a quick meeting of the Accommodation for Vulnerable Young People Committee, which elected Tim Baker, MHK as the Chair.

At 13.00 Tynwald Members headed up to the Barrool Suite for a DfE presentation that outlined a choice of enterprise support schemes supporting, starting, growing and developing businesses in the Isle of Man.

The presentation finished at 14.15, at which time I headed into Onchan for a meeting with the newly appointed Clerk of Onchan District Commissioners, Linda Radcliffe.

It was a good opening meeting and I certainly wish Linda all the very best for the future. Hopefully, we can work well together, because MHKs, Commissioners and Officers need a good working relationship if we are truly to serve our Community.

Back to the office briefly at 16.00 to catch up with a few things before heading home at 17.00.

Once home I started to go through my DfE Agenda Pack, which was relatively light.

I still managed to finish for 19.00.

I woke up feeling a little under the weather on Wednesday, but I still went into the office for 8am, and the first items on my agenda were drafting a couple of notes for the DfE meeting and having an exchange of emails with a Constituent relating to Respite Care on the Isle of Man.

Around 9am I walked over to the DfE for the usual Political meeting with the Minister before heading into the Boardroom.

Before the meeting there was an update on the island’s space industry from Martyn Perkins, MHK and Adrian Moore.

As I mentioned, the board meeting was fairly light, which meant that I was back in the office for lunchtime, giving me time to finish off my prep work for the Public Account Committee (PAC).

At 14.00 the PAC had a pre-meeting before gathering in the Legislative Council Chamber to take evidence from Dr. Malcolm Couch (CEO of DHSC) and Mike Quinn, (Director of Hospital Services)

The public evidence session was on the overspend at Noble’s Hospital, but mainly focusing on staffing matters.

The sitting lasted over two and half hours in which the PAC members asked over 53 questions out of the possible 80 that the Committee had prepared.

Certainly one of the best sessions I have attended.

I left the office at 17.30 and I needed to catch up with a couple of emails, but was able to finish at 19.00.

I still woke up feeling tired on Thursday. I am still not sure if it was stress, tiredness or a bug of some kind but I certainly felt better as the day unfolded.

I spent a good part of the day at my desk. I was in for 8am and the first part of the morning was on this month’s Tynwald sitting, which had a couple of interesting items up for discussion, along with a general catch up in and around the office.

Just before 11am I drove down to the Sea Terminal for a meeting with a couple of taxi drivers to discuss their ongoing concerns regarding licensing etc.

The meeting lasted around 40 minutes and gave me a good insight into their concerns.

Straight back to the office and up to the Barool Suite for lunch with the cruise volunteers after another record breaking season, which is always a very enjoyable occasion.

On the menu was Turkey dinner and Christmas pudding, the first one of the year….

I have posted a separate message on this item, but a big big thank you once again to Seonad, Peter, Lara and the Cruise Ship team.

I called into the office to send a couple of emails before driving into Onchan for a meeting with a couple of Constituents who own a beautiful boutique hotel, which only opened up in May.

It really was a stunning hotel and it was nice to have a general chat over a cup of tea.

From there I went back to the office briefly before driving home at 16.30, but only to get changed and to return to the office at around 18.00.

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to give a tour of our Parliamentary Chambers to the 2nd Onchan Explorers by Steve White, which I was more than happy to do.

I have known Steve for many years and it was an honour to show the guys around the Chambers. Although I have shown a few individual people around, the 2nd Onchan Explorers was my first official tour, which lasted around 90 minutes.

I was very fortunate to have Ellen on hand to help with the tour and to also help serve hot chocolate and mince pies at the end. It was a really enjoyable evening.

I finally got home for 20.45.

I took some time off on Friday morning to get some shopping and to have a general catch up on personal tasks, especially with the ironing etc….

In the afternoon my attention switched back to work and next month’s Tynwald sitting, especially looking at the recommendations in relation to the Post Office.

On Friday evening Ellen and I attended an evening with Lemn Sissay, MBE at the iMuseum, where he talked about his experiences of being a child in care.

The presentation was powerful, thoughtful but also very funny…..

These days Lemn is the Chancellor of the University of Manchester and a renowned author and poet – his life story is quite incredible.

Thank you to Debbie Brayshaw, Director of Children & Families Division, Department of Social Care for the kind invitation.

We finally got home for around 20.45.

A good portion of Saturday will be taken up with Tynwald and catching up with a few projects.

Late on Sunday afternoon I have what I would consider to be a very important meeting, but unfortunately you will have to wait for details and the outcome next week….