Blog 6 Oct 19On Monday evening I attended a PAG meeting at the Manx Legion, which was organised in conjunction with the 5G AWAREIOM.

Certainly one of the biggest PAG meetings I have attended with around 150 people in the audience to listen to Prof Olle Johansson and Stefanie Kerwin outline their concerns relating to 5G, WiFi and the amount of wireless technology that is being forced onto the general public, which could increase even further if the island introduces 5G across the island.

Two excellent presentations given, but it was definitely a very one sided debate and it was extremely disappointing that Health Minister, David Ashford, MHK, the Director of Public Health and representatives from Manx Telecom and Sure all declined invitations to take part, because 150 people walked out of that meeting having listened to just one side of a very difficult debate.

It was also a shame that MHKs became the target from certain individuals within the audience as we were accused once again of voting blindly under collective responsibility, which is total nonsense.

As an MHK I have never been forced by anyone to vote in a certain way, and I certainly wouldn’t allow that to happen. My own personal opinions and thoughts on most topics in this role count for nothing, as I am elected to represent the overall view of my Constituents.

If the majority of Onchan Constituents ask me to vote against 5G then I will, even if that means that I have to resign from a particular Department or a Committee.

I attended the meeting on Monday in order to listen to the arguments against 5G and I will continue to listen to points being raised by 5G AWAREIOM, but as an MHK I also have to be mindful of the counter arguments and the reasons why the Isle of Man could be left with little option but to embrace 5G, especially with one eye on businesses and jobs etc.

Within one of the leaflets given out on the night there was an article entitled “what can I do” and it suggested that we educate ourselves, so I did….

I spent some time on Monday evening and on Tuesday Morning going through various reports and articles and by the end of it I was more confused than when I started….

One article said that 5G is a dangerous escalation of traditional cellular technology, one packed with higher radiation that delivers potentially damaging effects on human beings – very scary stuff….

Another article confirmed that Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity is a condition found within a very very tiny section of our society in which people experience debilitating symptoms in the presence of mobile phones and WiFi etc; however, the actual medical case around the condition is still being collated.

A further article outlined that a common complaint about 5G is that because of the lower power output of 5G transmitters, then we will literally need hundreds, if not thousands of them across the Isle of Man, which is another very valid point.

One of those boxes is located behind the Sefton Hotel, but how many people actually notice it from day to day….?

The article continued to say that the power and the frequency of 5G towers are less than natural light, and that if you actually go out in the sun then you are bathed in electromagnetic radiation that is far greater than any 5G mobile tower.

As an island we also have to be mindful of the number of Companies that have relocated to the Isle of Man and the jobs that these industries created over the last 35 years.

If the Isle of Man is to remain open for business globally, along with ensuring that businesses can conduct day to day transactions both locally and internationally, then many of those businesses expect access to the very best telecommunication technology available.

The evidence is very clear that the Isle of Man has slipped a further 12 places on the international league table in respect of countries that are recognised as providing high-tech digital services.

Singapore continues to lead the way and the Isle of Man has to move further down the table and is currently ranked 62, which is 52 places behind Jersey which is considered our main competitor in many ways.

The arguments for and against 5G technology will certainly continue over the next couple of years, but can the Isle of Man afford not to invest in 5G, especially when we consider potential job losses today and in the future….?

Personally, I have started to switch off the internet at night, for no other reason than having the break from any potential waves….

Anyway, let’s look at this week’s activities.

Monday was another one of those very strange days, but certainly nothing like the heavy schedule I have had over the past couple of weeks.

In the office for 8am, which gave plenty of time to get a few things done before my first meeting that was scheduled for 10am.

I then headed up to the Barrool Suite at 11am for a presentation given by the Policy and Reform Minister, Chris Thomas, MHK with one of the Legislative Drafters, who outlined the Government’s Primary Legislation programme for 2019/20.

There is certainly a lot of good legislation coming through over the next 12 months relating to various things I know Constituents have been asking for, such as the Small Businesses Debtor Register and the Landlords and Tenants Bills, just to name a couple under consideration.

This was followed by an update on the Equality Act and the Code of Practice on Employment, which gave Tynwald Members an opportunity to ask any questions.

Straight after the presentation the Policy and Reform Minister, Chris Thomas, MHK and I spent the next hour or so discussing the finer points of the Area Plan for the East, especially around one particular site that should never have been included in the Area Plan, in my opinion.

We also discussed housing and population projection figures, but you never actually win an argument or a discussion with Chris Thomas, MHK – even when the Minister is wrong, which certainly happens from time to time – but still an enjoyable meeting.

The rest of the day was spent at the desk working on a few things.

As I have already mentioned, I attended the PAG meeting in the evening, which finished around 21.15 but I also spent an hour or so looking at 5G before calling it a night.

The Isle of Man woke on Tuesday after a terrible night of extreme weather and heavy rain that had hit most parts of the Isle of Man. Unfortunately soon afterwards a major incident was declared in Laxey after severe flooding led to several people being trapped in their homes along Glen Road.

This area has flooded before but I can’t remember the water ever being four or five feet deep in places, which has caused considerable damage to a number of properties in Laxey.

The Chief Minister, Howard Quayle, MHK returned to the island on Wednesday to meet concerned residents of Glen Road, Laxey and to assess the damage to property for himself.

The Chief Minister was joined by Alex Allison, MHK and the Infrastructure Minister Ray Harmer, MHK, and questions will have to be asked in due course around the wall that was breached by a contractor a few days earlier, but that is for another day….

I hope people can get the properties repaired and as quickly as possible.

For myself, I headed into the office around 8am to start working on a few things, but given the weather forecast on Tuesday I took the opportunity to head home towards lunchtime.

Tynwald is going back a week early with an extra sitting, in order to pass various regulations being brought by DEFA relating to Brexit.

A total of 31 items plus 15 questions are down for consideration, so I spent most of Tuesday going though the Order Paper ahead of next week, but also keeping one eye on the events unfolding in Laxey.

As I was driving home on Tuesday lunchtime I heard Stu Peters describe Tim Baker, MHK as the Swiss Army Knife of MHKs, because he can adapt himself to any situation, which I thought was a wonderful way of describing him….

Definitely one of the hardest working MHKs.

I continued to work on a few things until around 20.00 on Tuesday evening.

A completely different start on Wednesday as I worked from home for the first couple of hours before driving to Foxdale to drop off our old car for scrap.

I managed to get into the office for 10.30am but then received a request from Manx Radio to do a quick interview on the flooding in Glen Road, Laxey. From there I headed up to see Paul Moulton at MTTV to do my third year interview.

Finally got back to the office at around 12 noon, in order to finish off going through the Rates Modernisation Paper before going up to the Barrool Suite at 13.30 for the presentation.

It was certainly a lively debate amongst the Tynwald Members, and unfortunately the Policy and Reform Minister had very few answers to the questions being tabled by concerned Tynwald Members.

It will be interesting to see if the rates modernisation motion receives sufficient support in Tynwald, but I am predicting a very close vote….

The next couple of hours were spent in the office as my attention started to switch to this month’s main Tynwald Order Paper, which could go possibly into three days…

Most of Thursday was taken up with preparing for Tynwald as I started to work my way through various reports that are tabled for discussion, including the Manx Radio and the Isle of Man Post Office.

There is also the first report from the Economic Policy Review Committee looking into the Post Office.

Just 14.00 I walked over to the i-Museum for a safeguarding training course, which lasted a couple of hours.

From there I continued to work on the Tynwald order paper until around 20.00.

Friday morning started with yet another visit to the dentist, in order to finally get my two new teeth fitted, along with getting a couple more filed down.

It has taken a couple of months, but the dentist has done a good job, I feel.

Straight into the office to continue working though the Tynwald order paper, but I did take the opportunity to get a few of my jobs done, because I will be working on Tynwald for most of the weekend.

I left the office at 12.30, in order to get home and changed before driving to Onchan School just before 14.00.

Head Teacher Jo Richardson at Onchan School together with the support of Head Teacher at Ashley Hill School, Peter Lewis along with students and teachers had organised a wonderful pre-birthday surprise for Hector Duff, BEM who will be 100 on 15th October 2019.

Hector looked very surprised when he walked into the hall to a standing ovation, but he soon settled into the wonderful entertainment provided by the students and the afternoon tea laid on by the students and teachers.

Hector even got to blow out the candles on a special cake that one of the teachers had made.

What a great way for Hector to start his birthday celebrations, which will take place over the next couple of weeks and include a special trip to Government House.

Just a shame that Tynwald is sitting on the same day so I won’t be able to join in those celebrations, but I genuinely enjoyed the pre-birthday surprise put on by the Onchan Schools.

As for the weekend, any spare time will be taken up with Tynwald papers.