Blog 14 Oct 18This week was a busy period as I continued to work through the usual mountain of paperwork ahead of a Tynwald sitting, which will get underway next week.

Paul Moulton and MTTV have started to put online the second year reports from all MHK’s, and they have certainly generated some discussion amongst the Members this week.

Personally, in my MTTV interview for the second year I could have said a lot more on my resignation from the Department of Health and Social Care last year and the breakdown in the relationship with the Minister at the time.

I could have added that I had a good relationship with Kate for many years before the election and I am sure things will sort themselves out over time, but on a political level no minister should ignore the political members within the department, and if you are looking to achieve a particular course of action or direction to go then you certainly need to take the team with you…..

Enough said on that topic for the moment.

Anyway, I was able to take most of Saturday off last weekend, except for reading through the DfE agenda pack for the meeting being held on Wednesday.

Sunday turned into a very busy day, especially in the afternoon.

Ellen and I were able to go out for a walk on Sunday morning and to call into the new cafe located at Cycle 360. In the afternoon I received several calls or messages from Constituents, which needed follow-up correspondence to be drafted and sent out, which I was happy to do.

As I have said previously, being an MHK is definitely not a 9am to 5pm job. It is a fantastic role, as I have said many times before, but you also need to embrace the role and the challenges you will face over a five year period.

I was in the office for 8am on Monday, but only briefly to send out a couple of emails and to complete a few small tasks.

At 8.45am I drove to Santon to look around the new Comis Mount Murray Hotel, which has just re-opened after a major fire in 2013.

I can certainly remember a very cold November day in 2017 when I was last invited to look around and the only thing standing was the shell of the old hotel.

I genuinely enjoyed my tour on Monday morning, which was due to a kind invitation from Seamus Byrne, Head of Sales & Marketing at the Comis Hotel.

There has certainly been a lot of work undertaken since my last visit, but there is still a lot more work to complete over the next few months.

It is a stunning hotel, which is now open to the public and it has already welcomed its first guests, along with holding its first conference.

The Snaefell Restaurant & Cocktail Bar also opened last week and the Spa and Pool should be open hopefully in the New Year.

I certainly wish the Management and Staff at the Comis Mount Murray all the very best for the coming months and years……

I was back at my desk for 10.15am and my calendar suddenly opened up as my 11.30am engagement had been inputted incorrectly, so I had a few spare hours.

The time was spent going through the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) pack, which again ran into hundreds of pages yet again….

I also had to deal with two additional Constituent matters, which required correspondence to be drafted.

With a fairly light schedule on Monday I was able to have lunch with a few colleagues, and it was good to catch up with a few things.

At 14.00 I walked just across the road for a meeting at Murray House between Social Services and a couple of Constituents.

Not an easy meeting at all, but these are the occasions when you need to go beyond your role just to make sure that Constituents are being treated fairly by Government officers, and on this occasion the officers were extremely professional and supportive.

Back to the office for 15.00 and the last couple of hours were spent continuing to go through the PAC agenda pack and Tynwald Order Paper, along with the Tynwald Question Paper.

I have to certainly query some of the the questions being tabled at the moment. Personally, I would only table questions that couldn’t be answered via email or because I wanted to raise the profile of a particular issue.

Although I left the office at 17.10, I continued to work through the Agenda items from home until I finished at around 20.00.

Tuesday was a strange day as it was made up of multiple Tynwald Members’ briefings and presentations, which was a little unusual.

I was still in the office for 8.10am and I was able to continue going through the MUA pricing review document and other Tynwald papers before going up to the Barrool Suite at 10.15am for a presentation on the National Telecommunications Strategy document, which will also be debated in Tynwald next week.

The briefing lasted just over an hour, which gave me a small window of opportunity to send a couple of emails before going back to the Barrool Suite for the Chief Minister’s update on International Matters, which started from 12 noon.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see much of the Chief Minister’s Presentation as I needed to head into Onchan at 12.40 for the Tommy Soldiers’ unveiling outside Onchan District Commissioners’ Officers.

The unveiling is part of the ‘There but not There’ Campaign and commemorations of the centenary of the end of the First World War.

It was a lovely Community event, which included the Last Post, a Minute’s Silence, Reveille, a Prayer of Remembrance and the unveiling of the Tommy Soldiers.

There was also the presentation of coins to some students from Onchan Schools.

I was back in the Barrool Suite for 13.45, but this time for a presentation by the Manx Utilities Authority (MUA) and its new Pricing Review, which lasted around 90 minutes.

I have already posted a separate Facebook message on this particular topic, in order to help keep my weekly Blog down to a manageable size.

The meeting finished at 15.00 and the last couple of hours were in the office researching the current shipping and aviation fees, along with writing several notes ahead of the DfE board meeting.

I left the office at 17.20 and once home I continued to go through the Public Accounts agenda pack until around 20.15.

Back in to the office for 8.10am on Wednesday and the first job was to go through my notes ahead of the Department board meeting.

Just after 9am I walked over to the DfE for the usual Minister and Political Members meeting, which gave us an opportunity to catch up and to go though the order paper.

At 10am we had the Department meeting, which started with Agency and Executive updates.

This was followed by a meeting with a local organisation which I will not name at this stage, simply because it will certainly set some hares running, which I don’t want to do right now.

What I can say is that it was a difficult, but very constructive meeting and I am sure that I will be posting further details in the near future.

From there we went straight into the agenda pack and we finally finished at around 13.00.

Just enough time to catch up with emails etc before going down to the Members’ room for the Public Accounts Committee meeting, which started at 14.00.

I was also scheduled to attend the Ballakermeen School Prize Presentation, but unfortunately I had to give my apologies because of the PAC meeting, which continued to explore several avenues of investigation.

The meeting finished just after 16.00 and the last hour or so was spent at my desk catching up with things.

After tea I drafted a couple of social media posts and responded to a couple of Constituent matters, which required a follow up emails but I was able to finish for around 19.45.

Although I was in the office for 7.50am on Thursday I was able to catch my breath after a busy week so far, and just take time to catch up with a few things in and around the office.

At 10.30am the Director of Motorsport, David Morter and I had a meeting with a local sidecar rider, which gave us an opportunity to listen and discuss any concerns from sidecar riders ahead of TT 2019.

It was another excellent meeting and it enabled us to answer various concerns, but more importantly to dismiss a few of the rumours that are going through social media at the moment.

The meeting finished at around 11.30am so I headed back to the office before going up to the Barrool Suite for a presentation on the Criminal Evidence and Contempt of Court Bill, which started at 12 noon.

From there I headed South at 14.00 to discuss a matter with an island Constituent, which is a little unusual as most of my enquiries are in and around Onchan.

The home visit will require a couple of further calls.

I then continued further South to visit another island resident who wanted to discuss concerns over a heritage building.

I finally got back to the office for 16.20, which gave me a few minutes to send a couple of emails.

Just after 18.00 Ellen and I headed into the village to attend the second WW1 concert of remembrance at St Ninian’s Lower School, Bemahague this evening, and what a fantastic show we witnessed.

The WW1 concert was very emotional at times as pupils from St Ninian’s High School, along with Onchan and Ashley Hill Primary Schools read out various letters sent home from soldiers on the frontline, most with the knowledge that they would never see their homes or families again.

Well done to everyone involved, especially the students for a wonderful concert and also for the amazing artwork on display.

I was home again for 19.40 and I was able to finish at around 20.45 after sending a couple more emails.

Despite the horrible weather, Friday was very busy. I was in the office for 8am, which gave me time to put together a few things before walking down to Markwell House with Lawrie Hooper, MHK just after 9am.

Lawrie and I wanted to look at the AG’s legal advice on the Public Sector Housing (Allocation) (No.2) Policy 2018 document ahead of the Tynwald sitting next week.

Unfortunately, it is one of those occasions when we couldn’t obtain a copy of the advice, but we could read the advice in front of an officer.

Again, I will be posting a separate Facebook message on this topic over the weekend.

I then walked back to collect my car and drive up to Manx Radio to do two interviews.

Back to the office once again before heading over to DfE for an Extraordinary Department Workshop meeting, which started at 11.30am.

That meeting finished at 13.00, so I took the opportunity to grab a few things from M & S before a Budget Political Meeting with Treasury that started at 14.30.

Once the meeting finished I had a couple of calls to make and to drop off a letter in Onchan.

I left the office at around 16.50.

Saturday will be busy with a Community event in Onchan, but my priority over the weekend will be finishing off preparing for Tynwald.