Blog 4 Aug 19I can’t resist starting this week’s Blog by saying that one particular Government Minister has been taken for a ride this week, as the DEFA Minister, Geoffrey Boot, MHK re-opens the historic carousel at Silverdale Glen.

As a young child we used to head south annually for a full day out at Silverdale Glen, which included the boating lake, the witch’s den and the cafe etc.

It was certainly a big attraction in its day….

The “Best Little Prison in Britain” also hit our TVs this week as cameras went behind the scenes at Jurby Prison.

Some stunning scenic views of the Isle of Man throughout the programme, but I wasn’t convinced about the overall view of prison life in the “Jurby Hilton”.

There was certainly a lot criticism of the programme on social media after the first episode was aired on ITV on Wednesday evening. Manx Radio reported that some people thought prisoners were being treated better than many of our pensioners, and based on the first episode I guess they might be right.

As for my own activities this week, this is not a particularly long Blog as most of my time and energy was spent on just one particular topic, the Area Plan for the East – a very important issue for Onchan.

In fact, I spent so much time reading, researching and writing about the topic that I really struggled to sleep at times as my mind was running around like a hamster on a wheel – anyway, more on that topic shortly.

I also have to thank everyone who messaged me or posted comments online regarding those Manx Telecom letters that have been going out to customers recently regarding new tariffs and increased charges for taking no action.

Standing in the Manx Telecom shop in Strand Street last week listening to other customers complaining about the letters they also received, I realised that it wasn’t just isolated to a handful of loyal customers.

At times we do lack clear choice for certain services, but at the same time the Manx public are very loyal to those companies that we use and rely on every day, such as Manx Telecom, Manx Gas, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, Ellan Vannin Fuels, Shoprite and Manx Utilities, etc.

Before I explain the actual letter that was being sent out by Manx Telecom at the moment, it might be best that I describe the term “Guerrilla Marketing” for anyone who doesn’t know: this is an advertisement strategy in which a company uses surprise or unconventional interactions with their customers in order to promote a “new” product or service….

The letter I received advised me that my Smartphone 15GB Mobile Tariff Plan is very old and has not been available for sale or renewal for a long time. This is despite my 18 month contract with Manx Telecom actually only finishing around a month ago…

The correspondence received clearly stated that my tariff was to increase to £51.00 per month, although later on in the same correspondence they mention that their latest tariffs and potential savings can be found on the back of the letter.

I think most people who messaged me directly were just very disappointed with the tone of the correspondence.

Anyway, I am now £13.50 better off per month, along with improved benefits on island and off island – so thank you Manx Telecom.

This correspondence from Manx Telecom also opened up a wider discussion around those companies that we all trust and use every day.

I think most companies on the island do deliver a high level of business ethics, but there are a few who should seriously look at how they engage with their customers in the future.

That comment isn’t directed at Manx Telecom, but from a previous Blog over the TT period in which fans were complaining to me about the overall standard of customer service being offered across the island.

Anyway, rant over – time to move on……

As for the rest of this week, there isn’t much to report as I locked myself away on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at home to seriously review all the documentation relating to the Area Plan for the East.

The Public Inquiry gets underway on Tuesday 10th September 2019, but I need to get everything drafted by mid August.

After I dropped Ellen off at the airport on Sunday teatime it was head down reading, researching, writing and more reading etc.

There is so much information to get through and I definitely haven’t done this depth of research since I looked into the costs associated with the Energy from Waste Plant a few years ago.

At times it has felt like I am staring down a very long tunnel, but unable to reach the other end.

I must have spent over 36 hours on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday going through the information, researching and putting together some additional evidence, which I am hoping to present on behalf of Onchan to the East Area Planning Inquiry Inspector in September.

Hopefully, I will also be able to publish my new evidence mid August, subject to me getting everything finished.
Hopefully, I will also be able to publish my new evidence mid August, subject to me getting everything finished.

I still needed to respond to some correspondence throughout the week, but the majority of e-mails I have had to put on hold until the weekend.

Other activities included attending a joint meeting with Onchan District Commissioners on Monday evening, which lasted around two hours, and and fitting in a Manx Radio interview relating to Manx Telecom on Wednesday.

On Tuesday and Wednesday I started working on the Area Plan and Strategic Plan from around 5.30am and on Thursday morning I had so much information running though my head that I decided to start work from 4.30am, which also gave me an opportunity to read through previous Public Inquiries and several Tynwald debates from the 1990s.

I still headed into the office for 8am on Thursday and the first hour was spent on the Area Plan before I had a series of Constituent meetings starting from 9.30am.

The first meeting was held in my Tynwald office before I headed into Onchan for a further three meetings.

I managed to get back to the office for 12.30 and the rest of afternoon was spent at my desk working on the Area Plan until I left the office at 16.50 for a dentist appointment.

I continued to work on the Area Plan from home until around 20.30 before I took a call from the head of marketing at Manx Telecom.

It was a good discussion around the letters that have been sent out to customers recently. Manx Telecom felt they had to send out that particular type of correspondence to encourage some longstanding customers onto new tariffs, in to order save money, as those old tariffs were expensive to run. Unfortunately, it would appear that other Manx Telecom customers have been tarred with the same brush….

Back in the office for 8am on Friday and it was straight into the Area Plan for the East once again. I just wish I could put more information into my Blog about the work I am currently doing, but I need to finish gathering the evidence first.

Just before 11.30am I walked over to DfE for a workshop, which discussed political priorities over the next couple of years.

Once the workshop finished I stayed on at DfE for the Motorsport meeting, which was a general catch up with the team before getting back to the office towards 14.00.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in the office continuing to work on the Area Plan for the East.

Towards the end of Friday a Constituent called into the office to discuss phone boxes, which I will pick up over the weekend, along with various emails that are now building up.

I am sure that most of the weekend and part of next week will be spent finishing off the correspondence in relation to the Area Plan for the East.