Six weeks to go until the election.
At the start of the week, I met with Eddie Teare, the outgoing Treasury Minister. I took up his offer to provide a briefing for candidates and apparently I was one of only half a dozen to do so. It was good to hear about growth in reserves, growth in the workforce and movement towards an improved VAT deal. There are green shoots.
In the middle of the week I received an order from the Lexicon for more copies of the Isle of Man Population Atlas and I met with a former economic adviser to the Treasury to explore an economist’s take on the Island’s finances and fiscal policies. I also attended a meeting arranged by Marown Commissioners who are keen to work closely with the elected MHKs for Middle (as are the Boards in Santon and Braddan).
I have spent the last few days visiting homes around Ballacottier School – Clybane Road/Rise/Court/Close/Manor, Wallberry Mews, Rosehill Mews and Ballacottier Meadows. I have been told several times that I am the only candidate they have seen.
I have met many people, mostly in their twenties, who have never voted and we have had some good conversations. I have encouraged them to vote for the first time this September – some have agreed to think about it – others have said that they will vote and I have been thrilled with that!
Looking at my notes, some of the issues raised this week have included (in no particular order) government spending, taxation, government income, health care, impact of private health care, hip replacement waiting lists, pensions, government pensions, retirement ages for prison officers, education, population, planning, the Disability Discrimination Act, yellow lines, traffic speed, road surfaces, fading signs on roads, the hyperbaric chamber, coarse fishing, Douglas Promenade, horse trams, employment opportunities, the population atlas, recycling, local authority maintenance of shared and open spaces, children’s play areas, access to school grounds, politicians’ promises, gas standing charges, flight cancellations, quality of life, house prices and land development tax.
I have now visited over 970 households (45% of the Middle electorate). The views and experiences of so many people provide an incredibly rich insight into the community and into Island life.
It is an extraordinary privilege to be a candidate for the Keys.