For those voters who have moved into the constituency recently and for those who do not know me, here is a little background information to assist you. Apologies to those who have heard it before!
I am 52 years old and was educated at Peel and Onchan primary schools followed by Ballakermeen and St Ninianís High School. I attended Liverpool University between 1967 and 1970, obtaining a degree in Engineering
I have been married for 28 years to my wife Lynda and have two children, Rachael and Adam, both of whom have returned to work in the Isle of Man after obtaining university degrees in the United Kingdom.
I was sub-postmaster of Windsor Road Post Office from January 1981 until my election in May 1995. Prior to my time as a Member of the House of Keys, I was a member of Onchan District commissioners for five years
How have I spent the last five years?
Following my election in November 1996 I was appointed to the Department of Local Government and the Environment with responsibility for the Environmental Health and Safety Division. In May 1999 I was appointed to the Treasury and became the Chairman of the Financial Supervision Commission. I am a member of two of the three Standing Committees of Tynwald - Economic Initiatives and Constitutional matters. I am a representative of the House of Keys on the Joint committee on Emoluments of Certain Public Servants.
I have served on 3 Select Committees of Tynwald, the Petition of Redress of Grievance of Jean Noreen Thompson of which I was Chairman and which I presented to Tynwald in April 1998. The Equalisation of the Pension Age and Local Government Reform.
I sit on the Consultative Keys Committee and represent the House of Keys at the Court of Liverpool University. I am also a member of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Committee.
I have taken 2 Bills through the House of Keys, the Companies (Transfer of Functions) Bill in June 1999 and the Corporate Services Providers Bill in March 2000.
I have tabled numerous questions in the House and Tynwald on subjects as diverse as:
The achievement of which I am most proud is the establishment of a dedicated Diabetic Centre at Nobles Hospital. I have championed the Diabetic cause since December 1997, subsequently moving a resolution in Tynwald in December 1998 for the implementation and development of a dedicated centre which is now in operation. I have to thank the Manx Diabetic Group for all their support over the last few years in pursuing this worthwhile cause. I have also moved a successful resolution in May 2001 for the establishment of a dedicated centre at the new hospital which is at least equivalent to, or an improvement on the existing centre at Nobles Hospital, when it became apparent that the DHSS had no intention of establishing a centre at the new hospital.
Although I donít continually shout from the rooftops, (this is often counterproductive when trying to achieve something worthwhile) when I believe there is no other way, I will kick up a fuss. Such was the case when the Clerk of Tynwald, Professor St John Bates resigned and I believed the representatives of the House of Keys on the Tynwald Management Committee had not represented the views of the majority of the members, in their handling of the situation, I called for their resignation in open debate.
Looking to the future. .
I have commented upon the economy under a separate heading, nevertheless, its worth mentioning under this subject heading that the upside in our economy inevitably has a down side. It has become clear that we must do more for the first time buyers who are finding it increasingly difficult to afford adequate housing. The cost of housing in the Isle of Man has soared over the last five years, seeing an annual increase of approximately 12.7%. This has virtually denied young people access to the property ladder. Government are now committed to building 303 first time buyer units by the end of 2004. An additional 97 units are being built by private developers.
For the future I believe we should encourage more development of the inner towns and the purchase of older properties which, hopefully, will emanate from the Empty Properties Initiative. As an incentive we need to offer more attractive grant schemes to allow the rejuvenation of such properties which currently deters would be buyers. The reduction of VAT to 5% for a period of three years for refurbishment was introduced from January 2000, and I believe this should be retained indefinitely and I would advocate this course of action, if re-elected.
Law & Order
Drug and alcohol related problems and resultant crime continue to be a high priority for us all. The Government has
established a working group consisting of a number of agencies and organisations with a view to channel more energies into this particular problem.
The police over the last couple of years have mounted two large scale operations involving the arrest of a large number of drug pushers. The court case involving the plaintiffs from "Operation Safe" will shortly commence and hopefully the outcome may deter others from pursuing this appalling trade.
The problem of alcohol abuse amongst juveniles particularly prevalent on the promenade at the weekend shows little sign of subsiding and without the presence of more police officers patrolling on foot will be very difficult to curb. Closed Circuit TV has been introduced in some areas of Douglas, predominantly in the Retail Area. I would support the extension of this scheme to cover the promenade which tends to attract the most trouble.
The introduction of the identification card has greatly reduced the number of incidences allowing the purchase of alcohol by under age drinkers. The police have also undertaken to visit public houses on a more frequent basis to endeavour to prevent the same problem.
All of these things will assist in alleviating and hopefully preventing some of the problems caused by the abuse of both drugs and alcohol. Ultimately, however, we all have a responsibility especially parents to guide and educate our children against the dangers involved, and lead by example. I have always believed that prevention is better than cure and nothing I have seen in the last five years leads me to believe that this nut can be cracked by simply placing young people in custody.
The construction of the Energy from Waste incinerator for the disposal of household refuse will begin toward the end of this year. This will enable the waste heat to be converted into electricity and negate the need for more unsightly and unhygienic land fill sites.
The integrated waste management strategy for the Island also embraces reduction, re-use, recovery and re-cycling. The Department of Local Government and Environment is to report on the feasibility of introducing kerb side collection for domestic waste which can be recycled and to establish a green waste composting facility at the Southern Civic Amenity site.
We have been comparatively slow into re-cycling and must make up for lost time and I will support any sensible and effective scheme that will assist "environmentally friendly" disposal of waste.
The IRIS Scheme has progressed rapidly and the construction on the sewage treatment plant will commence in the coming year. When completed this will ensure that the Conister outfall, which discharges raw sewerage from Onchan and Douglas into Douglas Bay, will become obsolete. I will positively encourage the swift progression of this Scheme, if re-elected, which will enable the Island to meet EU Bathing Water Standards. This fact can be used for the positive marketing of the Isle of Man as an attractive and safe holiday destination.
The construction of a combined Gas Turbine Power Station will enable natural gas to be brought to the Island, this will reduce the reliance on diesel fuel for electricity generation. This, in addition to the construction of a wind farm will bring environmental advantages to the Island. These together with the electricity cable linked to the UK, should allow the Manx Electricity Authority to continually review their pricing structure and reduce where possible.
The import of natural gas should also enable the sole retailer to reduce prices, if this is not forthcoming, I would strongly advocate the introduction of legislation, as in the UK, to allow other utilities to offer the same product using the existing pipe network.
The practical completion of the new hospital is scheduled for September 2002 and occupation in April 2003. The new hospital will involve the employment of approximately 145 additional new staff. The recruitment of this number will be a major source of concern if we are to achieve the necessary care that everyone in the Island deserves and have the right to expect.
The waiting time for referrals to consultants and general practitioners has been highlighted as a problem and although there is a shorter waiting time than in England, additional initiatives should be used to reduce this waiting time. The Government could assist by paying to send
people to the UK for treatment in some instances, for straight forward operations, such as hip replacements, for example.
I believe the purchase of an MRI Scanner (for the detection of tumours) should be a priority for the incoming Minister of Health. So too should be the employment of specialised nurses for specific ailments such as epilepsy.
Dental Practitioners have expressed disillusionment with the attitude of the DHSS regarding the fee structure and some are indicating an intended break away from the Health Service. To do this, and only offer private treatment, will impact on those Health Service patients such as pensionersí, and those on lower income severely. The grievances of the Dentists should be investigated immediately and a successful outcome must be a priority.
The Island has experienced unprecedented growth over the last five years; however, we must look to the future as there may be black clouds on the horizon. The USA is looking into the abyss of recession; the UK could easily follow, particularly following the aftermath of 11th September.
The Island can not be immune to such global events, therefore we must be prudent and not allow a capital programme to accelerate out of control and we must restrict growth in Government spending to a realistic figure.
The island has weathered the storm of the Edwards Report in 1998 which put us in the top drawer of offshore finance centres. The Financial Stability Forum included the Island in the Group One category of offshore centres and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) also endorsed the Islandís comprehensive anti money laundering systems and did not include the Island on its list of non co-operative countries and territories. The Isle of Man Government also made a commitment to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which removed the Island from a list of non co-operative jurisdictions. This is positive news for the Islandís image.
The Isle of Man Government has introduced a new tax strategy which will reduce income tax to 10% and 15%. This is aimed at attracting business of a high profit per employee nature such as Treasury and Investment Management activities.
The setting of the minimum wage at the same rate as the UK against a background of sound economic growth raised queries as to why it should not be higher.
Although I voted for the introduction of the minimum wage, I stated that it should be monitored regularly and adjusted whenever appropriate. To have set a higher figure, as some members lobbied for, without knowing the consequences that this may have on maintaining differentials on wage scales and the possible negative impact one small businesses and the service industry, was, I believe unrealistic although it may have been seen, by some, as a vote catcher being debated so close to the election.
I will remain vigilant regarding this issue and will be happy to call for an increase when I believe it can be readily absorbed without damage to our economy.
The main areas of concern and which have occupied most of my time are those of planning, housing - private and public, traffic speed and parking, the state of pavements, roads and inadequate street lighting.
The major work has been in assisting constituents in opposing unwelcome developments by objecting to the Plans when presented for approval in principle. Attending reviews and appeals with the objecting parties.
I have also written to the Works Committee of Douglas Corporation suggesting that neighbours are informed when a planning application is submitted which may be of a contentious nature and have an adverse affect on their property.
Although Douglas Corporation is the housing authority in deciding to whom property is allocated, I have contacted their housing department on numerous occasions to try to assist those people who are in desperate need to move into local authority accommodation. I have also made contact with the Corporation, on behalf of residents, in relation to the need for necessary repairs to their homes. In relation to refurbishment of Corporation housing, I have lobbied for planned maintenance programme's to be instigated. Examples of this include Coronation Terrace (Lord Street), Circular Road and Westmoreland Road.
I have had meetings with the Department of Transport, Highways and Traffic Division to try to reduce traffic speeds in Douglas. My suggestion of staggered parking in Derby Road was not accepted, which I believe was a short sighted decision. Following this decision, I attended a meeting held with representatives from the Division in which the possibility of the need for a pedestrian crossing was discussed. The outcome of this was that if it could be proved that a crossing was necessary, it would be approved.
A traffic and pedestrian survey conducted by children from Park Road School was undertaken and from the results it was accepted that a crossing was necessary and this will be in place shortly. I am grateful for the assistance of the children and the teachers from Park Road. To those who first sent me the petition, I am sure you must be very satisfied with the outcome, as I am.
Parking continues to be a problem, especially in certain areas where the disc zone regulations are being ignored. This is not, regrettably, a high priority for the police but is extremely frustrating for those residents who can not park near their homes. I am pleased to say that in April next year, the Department of Transport are employing their own traffic controllers to specifically monitor disc zones, and this should help to alleviate this growing problem.
I have called upon the area maintenance manager of the Department of Transport, with responsibility for Douglas, on numerous occasions to have pavements re-instated and potholes in the roads repaired. There are still outstanding issues at present which need rectifying, however, these are in the pipeline and will be pursued.
I wrote to the Works Committee of Douglas Corporation to upgrade street lighting in several areas of the constituency. Park Road was especially in need of improvement due to the presence of the school and potential danger to the children in the winter evenings.
I was instrumental in having the Department of the Local Government and Environment erect the safety fencing at Chester Street Car Park, which overlooks St Thomasí School, to prevent missiles being thrown from the Car Park onto the School. This is, unfortunately, still a problem from the Museum Bridge. The Police have been informed and are monitoring the situation but the Museum authorities refuse to put mesh on the bridge. I intend to continue to press for this safety measure to be implemented.
I sincerely believe that constituency work should be a top priority for all MHKs and I am always available to try and help in any way I can, no matter how small you may deem the problem to be. If I can not assist personally, I usually know a man (or woman) who can!
The foot and mouth crisis and the resultant cancellation of this yearís IT was a bitter blow to the tourism industry. This was particularly disappointing, as in the past few years we have seen somewhat of an increase in short break holidays, especially in the niche markets such as walking, eco tourism and heritage.
Additional advertising by the Department of Tourism and Leisure helped to mitigate, in some way, the full impact of the loss of the TT and resultant expected earnings. This was further assisted by Tynwald approving compensation schemes for affected individuals.
It is essential, now that the Government have given the go ahead for next yearís TI, that a significant advertising campaign should be mounted to encourage lost visitors back, with extra funding provided, if necessary.
The Government, in conjunction with the Islandís carriers should seek means to offer attractive travel deals and special events to encourage people to visit the Island all year round. I would unreservedly support any such incentives.
Our Caring Society?
I was asked recently at a question and answer session leading up to the
election, if I could put my hand on my heart and say I believed the loM was a caring society, I said that I could - I meant it and I believe it to be true. This does not mean I am content that all is well and there is no more to be done, of course we can do more and we must continually strive to improve things wherever possible. I meet decent, honest, caring people everyday, in all walks of life, and so do you. We must guard against pessimistic negativity, especially in Government. To be truly caring in Government, we must all work towards positive common goals that will improve the lives of the majority of the people of the Isle Man - not shout down future plans or policies simply to bolster our own egos or to attract publicity in the local press. We may not live in a perfect society, but I for one am happy to continue to work to build on the solid foundation that we have established and I certainly would have no wish to live anywhere else.
I stated in my last manifesto that I not pretend that I knew all the answers,í still donít but I believe that with almost seven years experience under my belt I certainly know a great deal more than I did. I have gained a wealth of experience in the many departments have either worked in or been involved with and feel comfortably and competently able to work within the Government machine, and therefore to get the best from it for the people I represent. I would not wish my experience or knowledge to go to waste, I want to build on it, to do more, and as before, to do this I need your help, your trust and your belief in me. It is always dangerous for a politician to make promises, particularly as keeping them is not always within their control, but I do promise you this
unreservedly and without compromise - I will always endeavour to do my very best for my constituents and for the people of the Isle of Man.
I stand as an Independent candidate. This means, in the political arena, I can vote with my conscience and not have to follow any party line so I now ask you to allow me the honour of once more representing you for the next five years, as your Member of the House of Keys.
Published by Phil Braidwood
Printed from the IoM Elections Website. www.iomelections.com
REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE ACT 1995