Blog 2 Oct 17Workload and pressures are set to increase over the next couple of weeks as our Parliamentary work begins again after the the summer recess.

Some would say that Tynwald Members have been on holiday for three months and as Francis Urquhart would say (signature phrase of the scheming politician in “House of Cards”) “You might think that; I couldn’t possibly comment”! However, hopefully my Blogs have given an insight into my workload over the summer recess.

In the office for 8.15am on Monday morning and I didn’t even get to my desk before being stopped and advised of another holiday nightmare thanks to our local airlines.

Once I reached my office I went straight into a meeting with Tim Crookall, MLC as I discussed a number of TT related issues. We were then joined by other Tynwald colleagues and the discussion widened to include Noble’s Hospital concerns and a piece of correspondence I received over the weekend.

Just before 9am Tim Crookall, MLC and I headed over to DED for the detailed briefing on the TT and the Festival of the Motorcycle finances, as we try to fully understand the true costs of these events. The meeting lasted over two and half hours as we went through the finances line by line and to be perfectly honest we have only just scratched the surface.

Once the meeting finished I headed straight into a meeting with the DED Minister and the CEO as we discussed the Glen Truan Golf Course Planning Application. The meeting also enabled me to give the Minister an update on the public meeting last Thursday.

Back to my desk in the Tynwald Building to grab some lunch before spending a considerable amount of time in the afternoon going through my Public Accounts Committee evidence, along with continuing to read through the 341 pages of the Economic Policy Review Committee report into Open Skies. I left the office at 17.05 and after tea I caught up with e-mails and started to look through the Tynwald Order Paper before finishing at 20.10.

I was certainly left chasing my tail on Tuesday… In the office for 8am to grab a file, I then headed up to Manx Radio in order to do an interview on the island’s Open Skies Policy, which is being reviewed by the Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee.

The topic was last reviewed in 2013, so a review of those recommendations is long overdue, and hopefully I will also be able to fulfil another one of my election manifesto promises.

From there I went straight to the Keyll Darree Training Centre at Noble’s Hospital for a DHSC showcase, which was designed to give Tynwald Members an overview of what takes place to ensure that our hospital provides the right level of care to the people of this island.

Unfortunately, there was some confusion over the timetable and schedule prior to the event, but the event itself was fantastic with numerous presentations given by the staff on the frontline, including from the Surgical, Diagnostics and Medical Divisions, Cancer Services, Women’s & Children, Core Services and Patient Safety & Quality.

There were also a couple of interactive sessions and lunch was provided, but I took the opportunity to miss those sessions and return to the the office to start printing off a very large Order Paper for this month’s Tynwald Sitting. It wasn’t until I headed home at 17.00 that I realised I hadn’t eaten anything all day, other than a bag of Weight Watchers’ crisps – don’t ask, chewing on sawdust comes to mind…!

Anyway, once home I needed to send several emails before finally getting something to eat at 18.45. After tea I started to draft a couple of letters before calling it a day at 20.50.

Wednesday was meant to be a relatively straight forward day, but I certainly went home with a banging headache, although that might have been down to too much coffee….

In the office for 8.30am and the day started with me finishing off the draft letters that I’d started last night at home, along with drafting a couple more letters. Mid morning Tim Crookall, MLC and I headed back to DED for a TT briefing with the Director of Motorsport, David Morter as we discuss several items, including the future race schedules.

The meeting finished just before lunchtime, at which time I collected my car and drove down to Ramsey to meet someone I’d met at the Glen Truan Golf Course public meeting last week.

One aspect of this job that I really do enjoy is meeting new people and simply listening or exchanging views on various topics. I certainly don’t have all the answers as an MHK and today’s meeting raised several valid points and questions, which I followed up once I was back in the office at 14.00.

From there I started to get my head down in respect of this month’s Tynwald Order Paper, along with drafting a couple more letters. I left the office at 17.10 and after tea I started to read through the report into Social Care, Children and Family Services and other Tynwald reports.

I called it a day at 20.55.

Thursday was another day that just simply rushed by. In the office for 8.30am and the day started with me printing off several more documents for this month’s Tynwald sitting. I then attended a strange meeting with the West Midlands Quality Review Panel in our Barrool Suite.

It was strange because I was expecting a briefing, but I discovered that it was an opportunity for Tynwald Members to ask questions or raise concerns directly with the panel – and although I was aware of the work of the panel, I certainly hadn’t prepared any questions……

Once the meeting finished I went straight into another meeting with Tim Crookall, MLC as we met up with a team sponsor and owner with over 30 years’ involvement with the MGP. Again, another excellent meeting with someone who has lived and breathed the MGP for many years.

We are certainly now building up a clearer picture of these events.

Back to the office for about 20 minutes before heading back up to the Barrool Suite for a joint presentation given by the MUA and Treasury. The Treasury is writing off £95 million of debts within the MUA, which looks to be excellent news as the MUA will save around £6.5 million in interest and capital charges each year.

I will post a separate message on this item over the weekend.

Finally managed to get back to my desk for 14.15 and the rest of the afternoon was spent catching up with correspondence, including accepting several invitations and sending out some thank you letters, along with a letter to DOI in respect of my views on local housing rents from April 2018.

I left the office at 17.15 and after tea I continued to go though the mountain of paperwork for this month’s Tynwald sitting.

Finally called it a day at 22.30.

In the office for 8am on Friday and a lot of the day was taken up with the Tynwald Order Paper and sending out various letters, which I should have done yesterday. At 9am I headed over to DED for a meeting with the Minister to discuss the Glen Truan Golf Course planning application.

Just got back from the meeting in time to go straight up to the Barrool Suite for a presentation on the Isle of Man introducing a living wage. It was a good presentation and I am keen for the Government to introduce a living wage on the island, but I feel the Government also needs to raise the personal tax allowance to £14,000.

The next 40 minutes of my day was spent refuting silly comments and allegations regarding my use of Facebook, started by someone clearly out to cause trouble. What angered me most was the clear lack of respect towards me – instead of asking me directly, their allegations were based on third hand information, which was clearly wrong and I was able to show that.

Will I get an apology? I doubt it……… Will I continue to use Facebook to engage with Constituents? Yes I will.

Anyway, at lunchtime the MHKs from Garff and Onchan, along with a couple of Commissioners travelled up to the Douglas Police Station. The meeting was arranged in order to discuss the anti-social behaviour, which has been happening in and around Onchan village.

It was a good meeting, but finding a solution will never be easy.

Once I was back at my desk the rest of the afternoon was spent preparing for items on the Tynwald Order Paper, which took around two hours. I also managed to send out several letters before leaving the office at 17.20.

On Friday evening several of the newer MHKs met up over dinner, which we haven’t done for ages. Fantastic night, just what the doctor ordered – we went to Seven Kingdoms, which is an excellent venue but not the best menu for me.

The weekend will certainly be taken up preparing the Public Accounts Committee meeting on Monday afternoon, not forgetting more work on the Tynwald Order Paper, which has some very long reports that will need careful consideration.