The Candidate - Richard Kenneth Corkill
Dear Onchan Voter,
It is a great privilege for me to present my third manifesto to the people of On chan for the House of Keys General election and to seek their continued support. First elected in 1991, and re-elected in 1996 I have always endeavoured to represent Onchan and the Island to the best of my ability.
During the last ten years the Island has moved forward a great deal on both the domestic and international fronts and I would like to think that I have made a contribution to those advances which the people of the Island have worked so hard to achieve. With the support of the voters of Onchan I hope to carry on with that work for the benefit of all Island residents. My priorities are still to ensure that we continue to be a well balanced undivided community and that whilst the opportunity exists we must pursue the renewal and expansion of the infrastructure with the utmost vigour. Improving the quality of life and living standards of everyone across the Island is something we should not lose sight of and I have been involved with and voted in favour of a number of schemes such as the New Hospital (building completion to be Sept. 2002), the l.R.l.S. sewerage strategies, Housing schemes for First Time Buyers and Local Authority Tenants, New Schools, the Incinerator, Sports and Leisure facilities (N.S.C. now complete), the M.E.A. electricity cable (in place and already reducing our bills), new Police stations and the Villa Marina scheme. At the same time I have supported increased spending on enhanced public services particularly in the areas of Health, Education and Law and Order.
For the past five years my responsibility has been that of Treasury Minister in the Government and as one of your Members in Tynwald I have never shirked any commitment or duty that Tynwald has put my way. I believe sincerely that Public Duty is a good thing and if re-elected I would carry forward that ethos and commit myself to whatever role Tynwald might decide.
All votes count. By voting for Richard Corkill on 22nd November I hope to remain "YOUR VOICE IN THE KEYS"
With approximately 39,000 people employed out of a total population of 76,315 and unemployment at a record low (0.4%), we are enjoying a strong period of economic growth. It has been my privilege to have presented the last five Budgets to Tynwald for approval and each one has been a package of increased public spending, better pensions, additions to the Reserves and reductions in the burden of taxation. History shows that the Island is not used to such success and at this stage we must keep our nerve and guard against complacency. Many people will remember the clays of Winter Work schemes, poor opportunities, low wages and people emigrating from the Island. It is such memories that should form the basis of how we manage our success. Something else which the Island is not used to is the envy from other places about how we run our affairs and this also needs careful, but strong management. After years of striving, average earnings are now on a par with U.K. levels, but there remains a need to help those with low incomes and to keep our society well integrated. And, with such a strong economy there are issues to manage. Recruitment of staff by Government and business is difficult and housing costs have been rising. Levels of service and business competitiveness can be put at risk. I fully support the current Government policies in dealing with these matters. Residency Control legislation is now in place and regulations being drafted so that there can be some control of people coming to the Island. Further implementation of the new taxation strategy which encourages high value, but low labour business will reduce the pressure for employers and by progressing a number of housing schemes (public and private) we will be able to ensure that the Island can adequately house all of itís people.
Industrial manufacturing and Tourism have performed well in recent times and have grown in value, albeit not as much as the financial services industries of banking, insurance, corporate services and shipping. Diversity is important and it is good to see different sectors of the economy moving forward. However there are structural problems in the Agricultural industry which is struggling under present conditions.
Our economy is still very much linked to the U.K. and by design, increasingly to the global economy. For some time, Isle of Man Government has been predicting a slow down and recent world events have raised uncertainty. Therefore it is unlikely that the Manx economy will continue to grow at such a rate as in recent years and it is at times like this in the economic cycle that we should be careful not to over react to problems, because intervention by Government at the wrong time will risk a recession. Fortunately the U.K. economy is well placed in global competitive terms and I believe the Island will continue to be an attractive platform for high quality international business. Our greatest threats are complacency from within and interference from abroad; but as long as these are recognised I have every confidence in the future well being of our economy.
I have introduced through successive Budgets, new rates of Income tax which presently stand at 1 2% standard rate and 1 8% top rate. In two years time the rates are expected to be 10% and 1 5%. Competing jurisdictions are lowering their corporate rates of tax and it is important to keep our advantage. The strategy of lower rates and a simplification of the tax system has been driven by myself and my Treasury colleagues and accepted by Tynwald. It is probably the most significant shift in direct taxation policy since the 1960ís and responds in part to International criticism, but stating strongly that we will protect the Islandís economy with competitive and transparent rates of tax. Public services will not be put at risk as it is anticipated in the longer term that more tax revenue will be collected at the new rates than at present, because the new strategy will encourage companies to have their profits taxed in the Isle of Man. Buoyant tax receipts will also mean that many people will be kept out of the tax net altogether.
Whilst Treasury Minister, I have taken the opportunity to fulfil a previous manifesto pledge regarding V.A.T. on building extensions, renovations, new windows etc. Tynwald agreed with my recommendation to reduce the rate from 1 7.5 % to 5%. This has encouraged investment into existing property and substantially reduced the "black economy", helping legitimate business to compete on a more level playing field. I support the policy of seeking flexibility within the Customs and Excise Agreement with the U.K. when it is in our interests to do so and I acknowledge that the Agreement serves the Island well and ensures that Manx business has unimpeded access to the U.K. and E.U. markets. Without the agreement we would lose business and prevent the very economic diversification that we seek (e.g. the Film Industry and light engineering). I strongly suggest that the calls from A.P.G. members to dissect the agreement be dismissed, as they would put at risk the money needed to fund our vital public services.
I have always supported sensible measures to improve pensions and it is important to ensure that rises in the cost of living are quickly taken into account. I acknowledge that the Manx Pension Supplement is not available to Island residents with less than 10 years of contributions on the Island and whose pensions are funded by the United Kingdom. Despite a recent Tynwald vote to the contrary I am urging the D.H.S.S. to reconsider their view on the Winter Heating allowance. If this was paid to all pensioners living on the Island then U.K. pensioners would be no worse off than their U.K. Resident counterpart and I think a good deal of "healing" would come about between those who donít receive the Manx Pension supplement and those who do. I will be supporting further prudent increases in the Manx Pension Supplement when the performance of the National Insurance Account allows as this Reserve is also important for the next generation of pensioners.
During this last House of Keys session, I have taken through new legislation (Retirement Benefits Schemes Act) which in combination with a new Taxes Bill in 2002 will create a new environment to encourage people to invest in their pension provision for the future. At the same time it will provide the Island with a new International business opportunity which is to provide safe, well regulated pension products to people working around the world.
I am in favour of encouraging people to be self sufficient and in my opinion there is a need to look again at the way in which funding for the residential and nursing care of the elderly is calculated. If an individualís assets saved over many years are to be utilised in paying for care it removes the incentive to save during their lifetime and this is having an unfortunate effect on peopleís attitudes.
INTERNATIONAL & CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUES
Local Authority Reform
Tynwald (House of Keys & Legislative
The House of Keys should be the only power house in Manx politics and a Legislative Council with a public mandate would supersede that influence, resulting in conflict between the branches.
Relationships with U.K.
There are a number of organisations such as the O.E.C.D, the Financial Action Task Force, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the Financial Stability Forum and several others who continually need briefing about the nature of our Island.
The Island can be justifiably proud of itís attitude to state benefits and I have supported large increases across the board, in particular Child Benefit, where I have been very keen to target low income families. The Benefits system is the best way to deliver support to many different sections of our community including those with disabilities. In the past 5 years we have been able to increase Social Security spending to a very meaningful £142 million per annum (40% increase) and thankfully there has been little demand for unemployment benefit. We must continue a comprehensive programme of benefits to supplement the financial resources of individuals or families where their own circumstances, efforts or abilities to make provision are insufficient to achieve an acceptable standard of living.
Since 1991 1 have fought hard for a new acute hospital. It is pleasing to see that New Hospital progressing well, on time and still within the budget set, despite the obstructive tactics of certain politicians. But the building is only one part of providing the top class Health Service that the Island deserves. Reducing waiting lists and improving the staffing situation are my top priorities. This new, modern facility, will transform the working environment for our Health professionals and the patients, when compared with the current cramped and ageing Nobles site. With the building due to be completed in September 2002, the work of the phased opening will need the utmost care and this will include the necessary human resource being made available. I have fully supported the reintroduction of student nurse training which is now helping to that end.
With the emphasis on the new hospital we must also take care that the community services are not forgotten. There is a requirement around the Island for modernised Doctorís surgeries with disabled access and I support the current D.H.S.S. investigation regarding N.H.S. dental services. I do not wish to see the Island go the same way as the U.K. where N.H.S. dental services have been displaced by private care and I have recently made this clear, publicly and to the Minister for Health and Social Security. N.H.S. treatments should be reasonably available to everyone within the community.
Inevitably, there are complaints from time to time about the service within the Islandís health care service and during the last five years an Independent Complaints Procedure has been introduced for the benefit of patients.
This is an area where it is difficult to demonstrate value for money to the Taxpayer. Because of social and economic change within our community, these services have had to be greatly expanded. The £24.5 million pounds per annum of resources applied now, save in the long term as it is in the interests of everyone to ensure the social welfare needs of persons who by reason of disability, age or other causes are unable to sustain a reasonable quality of life. I fully support the efforts of staff in this very difficult area of social need and feel that their efforts often go unnoticed.
After a long wait, there will soon be some much needed investment into the fabric of Ashley Hill Primary school. Onchan Primary school has the largest number of pupils of any primary school on the Island, and the numbers of pupils will have to be carefully managed between the two schools as there is some capacity at Ashley Hill since the new school opened in North Douglas. The Department of Education is to introduce pre-school education at Ashley Hill from Sept. 2002, in line with its policy on social priority, It is the policy of the Department of Education to devolve financial management from central government to the schools and I will be monitoring the position to ensure that this does not lead to extra administrators at the expense of employing qualified teachers. I am keen to prevent any worsening of teacher/pupil ratios or any dilution of our successes with Special Needs.
I am strongly promoting the building of a NEW SECONDARY SCHOOL in ONCHAN on land at Bemahague (behind Government House grounds). I have made representation in the past to ensure that this land remains zoned for educational use as it is strategically the best site for North Douglas and Onchan and at 1 7 acres is ample in size. Construction could commence in 2005. Onchan is the second largest conurbation on the Island and as a community deserves this "missing component".
It is also my view that urgently required football pitches could be established as a first phase of this development. There is a shortage o youth football facilities in Onchan and for Onchan A.F.C. whose season is interrupted at the Stadium by the overrun of the Stock Cars contract with Onchan District Commissioners. When Summerland closes there will be a need for a basic indoor "Five a Side" facility for the youth of Onchan to utilise.
In recent times there has been a great amount of change within the Islandís educational system and there should now be a time for consolidation. Changes in the U.K. should not be slavishly followed, but should be assessed and reassessed before implementation. It is one of the Islandís strengths that we can observe from a position of neutrality before we decide to act.
As each day passes Information Technology plays a greater part in our lives and I was instrumental a few years ago in the setting up of an E-Commerce Fund where a proportion is set aside for Education so that children have easy access to I.T. and that P.C.ís are not in short supply
As education is always the key to the future I remain supportive of the current policy of funding students where University and College fees are paid by Government and the Cost of Living Grants are available on a parental income assessed basis. Student grants have recently been increased.
HOUSING and THE ENVIRONMENT
Without doubt, this is the number one 2001 election issue. Several factors added together have resulted in an insufficient supply of affordable housing. Low interest rates, high land values (because of de-zoning in a number of local plans , making development land a scarce commodity) and above average net immigration to the Island as well as reduced occupancy per dwelling have pushed demand beyond the supply. Government has been slow to react, but is now doing so. There are several first time buyer schemes coming on stream, where Government owned land is being released. It is agreed that the House Purchase Grant scheme needs the limits raising and I believe this will be done in the next few months so that the scheme more accurately reflects the market prices that first time buyers find themselves in.
There are signs that supply is catching up and it is likely that the rate of immigration to the Island will decrease as the world economy is expected to carry on slowing down. It is a priority of mine to ensure that we can house everyone to a decent level, using resources to stimulate both the public and private sectors. I would like to see Government releasing some land for a "Self Build" scheme as there are a certain number of people with the ability and desire to construct their own homes. However, on a cautionary note, Government must be careful not to undermine equity values of existing home owners The renovation of older property has been encouraged by my 5% V.A.T. measure. There is an urgent need for Onchan District Commissioners in their capacity as Onchanís Housing Authority to produce more Local Authority housing and I am always willing to help them in this most difficult of tasks and in the procurement of funding from Government. I believe that there is an opportunity now, regarding the Nursery Hotel site to purchase this land and in conjunction with the owners of the Village Walk to re model the area with housing and to create a central Onchan Civic and commercial area. This would also give the opportunity to provide some much needed extra car parking in the centre of the village.
LAW AND ORDER
I have been a member of the Chief Ministerís Strategic committees on Drugs and Alcohol and Children and Young Persons. It is essential that we do not lose our quality of life on this Island and I have been involved in providing resources to that end. I am still disappointed that our courts, when sentencing, follow so much U.K. case law which is not always in line with the thoughts of the public in the Isle of Man. I am against the weakening of the law against illegal drugs (soft or hard) and am not in favour of recent U.K. announcements regarding Cannabis. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that smoking cannabis is harmful and is a gateway to hard drug usage. I believe that the changes announced in the U.K. are as a result of the authorities having lost control and it is a damage limitation exercise. In the past I have taken through legislation to permit internal body searching and to permit the confiscation of Drug Trafficking funds. As a qualified pharmacist I have very strong views on drug abuse and the penalties that dealers should incur.
In an Island situation we should aspire, more than the U.K. is able to, to clamping down on drug misuse.
Alcohol remains as public enemy number one. "Binge drinking" is seen as normal behaviour by many young people, with tragic results. Education has to be the answer, but a greater affluence has seen standards of behaviour decline in this area. The changes in licensing law will hopefully help the Police manage their resources more efficiently, but there is no substitute for parental concern and action which is so often missing. Along with others, I have called for a higher profile of visible policing at certain times of the week, particularly on the Promenade.
I am very clear that the Government proposal to build a new prison on the Ballafletcher site should now be tested by the planning process. This site meets the criteria laid down for a new prison which should not be too far away from the Courts and Police Headquarters. If we are to avoid International criticism, it is essential that we provide a new prison facility with proper regimes for the rehabilitation of prisoners, as soon as possible. It is also of prime importance that the working environment for prison staff is improved. This is a capital scheme which can not be delayed any longer.
INDUSTRY AND MANUFACTURING
Our relationship with the E.U, through our Protocol 3 arrangement which is part of the U.K. Treaty of Accession to the E.U. serves our needs very well allowing unencumbered access to the market place for various, specialised products. Still accounting for more than 10% of our economy and giving diversity of employment to our work force, it is important that the Department of Trade and Industry continue with their grants towards companies who can improve their competitiveness in world markets, by investing in new machinery. The Film and Television Fund is bringing in a good return for the taxpayer and the Island is now well on the map for film producers. All of this activity would be adversely affected without the Customs and Excise agreement with the United Kingdom Customs.
Because of the arrival of Residency Control legislation, full employment and the cost to business I propose that the Work Permit rules now need a complete overhaul and that the Department of Trade and Industry should commence this work immediately. I would envisage the Work permit legislation remaining, but that it should only apply to itinerant labour in the building and tourist trades. Should the employment pattern change then permits on a wider perspective could be applied, to ensure that the local work force always has priority. However, a lot will depend upon how the rules for residency are drawn up.
Another area of economic importance to the Island is the Ship Register and in future we must continue to promote this on a global basis, and build on the existing platform.
A very good initiative which is well used, is the Training Division and it is important to encourage retraining as the structure of our economy changes and the skill requirements with it. I have supported Sex Discrimination legislation and believe in equal opportunities for men and women in the work place. Sadly there are not enough women in the House of Keys and I wish more would stand for election!
AGRICULTURE, FISHING AND FORESTRY
The 9 million pounds (approx) that goes into farm subsidies is in line with Tynwald policy which guarantees equivalence to the U.K. and E.U. But with food surpluses in the E.U. and the disruption due to Foot and Mouth disease in the United Kingdom, there is a need for a fundamental review of the future of Manx Agriculture. I believe that we must produce our own foodstuffs and appreciate that farmers look after many aspects of the countryside to the benefit of us all. There is a need to look at value added niche markets and it is encouraging to see this philosophy showing some profit in the cheese markets. Volatility of market prices is difficult for small businesses to bear. A thorough risk assessment of Manx Agriculture is required, especially if Foot and Mouth continues as a threat to the livestock industry in the years ahead. Also there is need to improve quality and presentation if there is to be any hope of reducing imports. lam supportive of the quest for limiting imports on milk, meat and bread in order to keep the local economic structure in place, but we have to recognise that the E.U. may have a different point of view and that this sort of protectionism is becoming harder to justify, bearing in mind that Protocol 3 allows for the free movement of manufactured and agricultural products in both directions. But we must continue to try to protect our local economy with the relevant support schemes and keep our farming industry viable. Regarding, fishing, this small but important part of the Manx way of life is worthy of support and I support the investment in new boats from time to time from a safety and efficiency point of view. The shift of emphasis in Forestry to that of planting more broad leaf trees is to be welcomed for their future amenity value.
TOURISM AND LEISURE
I believe that tourism has a good future and is vitally important to the well being of our Island. The quality of the product is much better, but there is a long way to go in providing the range of appealing accommodation that todayís customers demand. There is plenty of interest and natural beauty to attract customers, but travel remains expensive in relative terms. Hence the need to attract higher net worth holiday makers with a targeted marketing campaign. There is more "style" appearing and a full size marina, hopefully at Port St Mary, would accelerate that process. The T.T. and other motor sports events are the core attractions, but more quality leisure facilities will attract an all year round clientele. In my Treasury role, I agreed to a development fund being set up which is available to help investment into new infrastructure for tourists. The redevelopment of Summerland including a TT museum is something to look forward to in time to celebrate the 100 years of the TT in 2007. The prime task for the Department of Tourism is to create more quality accommodation to replace the capacity already lost from various developments along the promenade. This new capacity needs to be spread around the Island for todayís type of Tourism and this can generate extra income for farming.
It is clear from many peopleís comments that there is a general dissatisfaction with the standards of roads and pavements. I have to ask whether stone chippings (surface dressing) are appropriate in this day and age and I would rather see more long lasting asphalt and tarmac. The D.O.T. do some excellent schemes including Manx stone walls and I think that the new look Douglas harbour is a welcome sight. Work on the Old Castletown Road is high quality. But there are many schemes which drag on for too long and the public lose patience. Management needs to be better focused on getting the smaller jobs completed and tidied up.
Others have called for a traffic review in Onchan and I wholeheartedly agree. The introduction of traffic calming which I have campaigned for has eventually been implemented in some areas, but there are still some very pressing problems in Onchan that need solutions.
Speeding traffic in residential areas is an increasing problem. If reelected I propose to ask the Department of Transport to undertake a safety survey of a number of hotspots in Onchan, with a view to utilising a combination of traffic calming road layouts and speed restrictions.
There is a need for more parking in the centre of Douglas for those who commute to work and at a sensible charge. Shawís Brow is about to be extended and further sites need to be identified.
SEA AND AIR TRANSPORT
Since the "user agreement" provided by the Government has been in place, the Steam Packet Company has invested in our routes and this confidence by Sea Containers, the parent company, is most welcome. However, there is a need to improve the service to Ireland, particularly if we want to increase the numbers of Irish visitors.
With the current worldwide uncertainty in air travel, the immediate concern of Government has to be the maintenance of existing routes and acceptable fares. This will entail more close dialogue with the airlines serving the Island and measures to increase the numbers of people traveling through our airport. This way, carriers reduce costs and passengers get the best deal.
LOCAL ONCHAN ISSUES
I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this manifesto and I ask you to support me with your vote on November 22nd.
There may be issues not covered which you might like to know my views on.
Please feel free to telephone, write or e-mail me.
By voting for CORKILL I wish to assure you that "YOUR VOICE IN THE KEYS" will be measured, effective and in the interests of the people of Onchan and the Isle of Man. I am committed to delivering what I promise.
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REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE ACT 1995