Monthly Archives: February 2016

14th February

14th February
Spent two hours at Manx Radio with fellow MHKs Ray Harmer and Jon Joughin, Sunday Opinion a far ranging discussion on our impressions of Tynwald as the new boys on the block with our opinions on where we are going in terms of legislation etc.

http://www.manxradio.com/radioplayer/od/3417/

We all stayed on for the Mannin Line afterwards where we fielded questions along with Roger Watterson on current issues.

http://www.manxradio.com/radioplayer/od/3418/

12th February

12th February
A visit to the Isle of Man Creamery and an overview from the Managing Director Findlay MacLeod. Another Farmers cooperative that seems to be working well within the island maintaining a milk price that unlike the UK is at least sustainable on an industry basis. We currently have 31 Dairy Farmers on island down from 86, 15 years ago. Many of these units are larger and more efficient producing twenty four and a half million litres of milk a year, six and a half of which are sold in liquid form on the island, whilst the rest turned into around 1800 tones of cheese, which I am glad to say is sold around the world.

IOM creamery

11th February

11th February
A visit to the Chamber of Commerce and a meeting with their Visitor Committee, a positive meeting where the Chamber members were able to give an overview of the visitor accommodation situation and their thoughts for future development. We also had a very frank discussion about the introduction of ID checks which they are opposed to for a number of very good reasons.

A Department of Economic Development (DED) briefing to Tynwald members and some members of the public on the proposed work permit exemptions for workers in the ICT and E business sectors. There are severe recruiting problems due to a worldwide shortage of such workers and this is cramping development of Isle of Man based companies who are already sending work streams off island.

We are at present training a number of young people who are guaranteed jobs but these won’t come online for another 18 months to 2 years.

My first visit to Isle of Man Meats and the Meat Plant with a meeting with Mike Owen the CEO. A look around the facility and in particular the £2 Million pound plant refurbishment followed by a discussion on future strategy and the interaction with our on island butchers and farmers. This I am sure is my first instalment as my delegations in DEFA with food and DED retail all have Meat Pant implications.

Meat Plant

Teletubbies on tour in the Meat Plant. Me with David Quirk MHK and Graham Cregeen MHK.

 

10th February

10th February
Morning – Department of Economic Development Political then Members Full Department Meeting
There is a lot going on but much is confidential thus I am unable to report the detail.

Then a short conversation with Stu Peters on Manx Radio about the proposed reduction of the drink drive limit. There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding and a belief among some that lowering the limit will somehow stop those that cause the accidents driving several times over the existing limit. I don’t see how people who are already driving two, three or four times over the limit will be deterred by reducing the present limit! I remain concerned at the impact the reduced limit would have on Island businesses (restaurants, pubs) judging by the 60% reduction in trade experienced in Scotland. I am a great believer in evidence lead regulation and as my question in the Keys revealed on 26th January, there is no evidence in the Isle of Man that would lead to a conclusion that the present limit is too high. Just because others do things we shouldn’t follow, a big complaint is that we slavishly follow other jurisdictions and in particular Europe without assessing our own needs. It would appear from statements from the UK Government that England has no intention of reducing its limit.

As a result of representations to Minister Gawne he has now put an online survey via survey monkey. Anyone interested might wish to complete the survey the link is www.tinyurl.com/hl3ffom

9th February

9th February
House of Keys
What appeared to be short order paper but quite a bit of legislative work, a number of questions particularly with regard to dependability and their screening of people on incapacity benefit and whether it was fit for purpose.

Another old chestnut the safety of microwave levels from mobile phone masts. It would appear there is no evidence of damage and it was pointed out that nearly everyone has a mobile phone nowadays and if they are worried about the microwave energy stop using them. Sound advice in my opinion.

Nearly 2 hours discussing Marriage (Same Sex Couples Bill 2016) sponsored by our Chief Minister, it was passed with only 4 dissenters.

8th February

8th February
An early start with a meeting expressing concerns over the Meat Plant vis a vis farmers and the supply chain.

Social Affair Policy Review Committee at 14:00 more oral evidence from people who have experienced contact with Social Services with particular emphasis on adoption.

An evening date with Patrick Commissioners with a frank discussion from both sides over issues affecting the Parish. I stressed that as an MHK I wanted to assist not compete with the Commissioners and that we were best working together.

I have taken away a couple of work streams that will include a visit to the Civic Amenity Site as well as trying to progress leases with regard to Patrick Community Centre and Foxdale Heritage Centre.

3rd February 2016

3rd February 2016
Spent the morning taking oral evidence in private for the Social Affairs Policy Review Committee from individuals recounting details of their involvement with Social Services.

In the afternoon I had hoped to get to the second part of the Department of Environment, Food and Agricultural monthly meeting but ended up dealing with a number of Constituents queries including a visit to the summit of the Beary Mast to have a look at the condition of Mill Road and the unmade part as a result of the number of complaints/observations about the same.

I have sent a letter to the Chairman of Office of Fair Trading with regard to fuel prices and awaiting his reply to see whether I table a question in Tynwald regarding the same.

2nd February 2016

2nd February 2016
House of Keys

Two oral questions from me, the first regarding the lowering of the drink drive limit from 80mg to 50 mg per 100 millilitres, interesting statistics from the Minister for Home Affairs.

Road traffic accidents in the last three years were 939, 959, 909 prosecutions for drink driving as a result of these accidents 13, 5, 10 in each respective year. It would appear there is absolutely no evidence from an Isle of Man perspective that lowering the limit will reduce accidents, there is however a lot of evidence that it will infringe our law abiding citizens ability to have a pint or a drink with a meal and endanger the livelihood of many of our pubs, bistro and restaurants. In fact a 60% reduction in trade was observed in Scotland after the introduction in 2014.

My second question was to do with the number of convictions in 20mph limits and 30mph limits, once again interesting in the last three years there were 10, 1, 6 respectively in 20mph limits and 280, 118, 67 in 30mph limits. The need for lower limits and higher penalties would be negated through better enforcement and this was admitted by the Minister.

Police continuing to disrupt supply of drugs

Police continuing to disrupt supply of drugs. See below news release.

Police continuing to disrupt supply of drugs

The Isle of Man Constabulary is continuing to disrupt the supply of illegal drugs in the local community, with a number of notable seizures being made over the past three months.

Heroin, cocaine and cannabis with a combined value of more than £215,000 have been removed from the Island’s streets since the middle of November following a series of raids by the police’s Proactive Team.

The Manx force is working closely with Merseyside Police and other key partners to try to prevent illicit substances entering the Island from the United Kingdom. There were 15 arrests at the Island’s ports for drug-related matters during 2015, with substantial amounts of cash being recovered.

Tip-offs received from members of the public are also providing vital intelligence to support the Constabulary’s efforts to combat importation and supply.

The Chief Constable has said that stopping the ‘evil trade in Class A drugs’ remains one of his main priorities. In addition to making large, one-off seizures, officers adopt a range of other tactics to dismantle supply networks, such as using financial investigation powers and making early arrests for possession.

Home Affairs Minister Juan Watterson MHK said: ‘The Isle of Man takes a robust stance against drug crime and those involved in trafficking can expect lengthy prison sentences. The police have made some significant seizures and several arrests in recent months and are continuing to work proactively to safeguard the quality of life the Isle of Man is rightly proud of.’

He added: ‘There were six drug-related deaths in the Isle of Man in 2015, which highlights the devastating impact that drugs can have on a community. People can play a part in keeping their neighbourhoods safe by passing on information that assists our intelligence gathering process. A strong sense of community responsibility will make it harder for drug dealers to avoid detection.’

As well as seeking deterrent prison sentences for serious drug crime, the Department is developing alternative methods of dealing with offenders at the lower end of the scale – those caught in possession of a small amount of drugs for their own use, who have no relevant previous convictions. Home Affairs is working with the Departments of Health and Social Care and Education and Children as part of a joined up Government approach to the issue.

Minister Watterson commented: ‘The success of our drugs education programmes shows that addressing underlying issues and behaviour can often be the best way to prevent reoffending. The police have the ability to register people on the drug arrest referral scheme without them having to enter the detention and custody processes. This allows officers to deal with minor offences in a more pragmatic way. I think there is a growing acceptance that in certain cases treatment rather than punishment will have the greatest overall benefit for our community.’

Boarder ID checks

Boarder ID checks
See below. It appears there have been over 700 written and online responses to the above consultation.

Minister welcomes public debate on border identity checks

Home Affairs Minister Juan Watterson MHK has welcomed the public debate generated by the Department’s consultation on the principle of introducing border identity checks for people travelling to and from the Isle of Man by sea.

More than 700 written and online responses have been submitted since the consultation was launched in December.

Identity checks at sea ports are being considered as a way of enhancing the safety of the Isle of Man and its residents. The Department believes that a requirement for people to verify their identity before travelling by sea would help to combat crime.

The deadline for responses is Friday 12 February 2016 and people can provide feedback via the online survey or in writing to dhaconsultation@gov.im or Karl Cubbon, Legislation and Policy Officer, Chief Executive’s Office, Department of Home Affairs Headquarters, Tromode Road, Douglas, IM2 5PA. The consultation document is available to view on the Government website.

Minister Watterson said: ‘The consultation is intended to stimulate an open discussion on this important issue. We want to know if border identity checks are seen as an acceptable means of protecting our Island from criminal activity when balanced against any potential inconvenience to the travelling public.’

He added: ‘I’d like to thank those who have already contributed their views and encourage others to have their say before the consultation closes on 12 February. The Department will assess all the feedback before considering its next step.’