In seeking your continuing support I first have to say it has been a privilege to have been one of your representatives in the House of Keys for the past sixteen years. I believe even my biggest critics will concede that during that time I have worked hard, I have tried diligently to represent Onchan and I have strived to make sure that the increased prosperity has been shared by the many and not just the few. I have always been prepared, when opposing any plans. to present an alternative.
I am still approachable by the people of Onchan, in fact I haven't changed. I may be a little wiser about the machinery of Government and the intricacies of the establishment but I have used this knowledge for the benefit of the people of Onchan.
There can he little doubt that the Island has had a remarkable economic run over the past decade, averaging annually nine to ten per cent growth. with full employment and more choice. But that is only half of the equation with congestion increasing, and with thousands of our countrymen and women earning less than five pounds an hour. House ownership is becoming an ever more distant dream for far too many of our young people. and our quality of life is under siege on all fronts.
It is time to know what we want and how to achieve it, and what Price we are prepared to pay for it. The price is not always in pounds and pence. In the 21st century the Island must not become a slave to the booming economy at the price of losing its soul. The key is sustainable growth. We cannot continue to increase our population by 800 people a year and still believe we can control or even resolve our existing problems. That means the introduction of a Residency Bill, and quickly It is no use the establishment just listening and acting as a rubber stamp for those who continue to crow "more, more, more" to growth. More people means more pressure on housing, schools and on our health service. The next five years will be every hit as challenging as the previous five years. The Island has recently passed votes for the implementation of the wholesale restructuring of the Islandís basic infrastructure. However, we have now incurred the costs and the bills have to be paid. We must make sure that the economy is managed in a sound, steady and progressive way That must be at the heart of our deliberations. The Manx way of life has to he given the highest priority.
The Government is trying to play down the housing crisis, not just for those who want to buy homes but also for those who are wanting to rent accommodation through local government authorities. This administration has colluded with vested interests and has refused to acknowledge the real problems society faces over the housing crisis.
If I'm re-elected I will re-introduce my Private Members Bill which will deal with two issues. One, the release of Government-owned land enabling a fast-track planning procedure to come into operation for the development of affordable housing for our people. The second issue is the development of certain housing that could only be owned by Isle of Man workers. I would make it illegal for this housing to be owned by a company. and nor could it be rented out for more than a local authority rent. This would develop a stock of more affordable housing available for ordinary working people that would be of no interest to the investment market that is currently buying up all the homes for nest eggs instead of providing nests for young couples.
It is too simple for some of my colleagues to talk about the dangers of a two-tier system. We already have one. Those who can afford to buy a house, and those who canít. I have always pushed the principle, since first becoming a member of the House of Keys. of trying to make it as easy as possible for the maximum number of people to be part of the property owning democracy. Although I recognise that this will never he possible for everybody, we should strive to include as many people as possible. I do not subscribe to the Governments line that they have this problem under control - they clearly have not.
The second fundamental issue the new administration will have to deal with is control of residency on the Island. Although a Bill was passed some time ago, it has not been brought into force for various technical reasons, and I want to make sure that the legislation is ready for action whenever it is required, though I for one feel that time is now.
Whilst we can take pride in the full employment we currently enjoy this position has not been easily won and the priority of the next administration, with a world recession on our doorstep, must be to ensure the widening of the Islandís economic base with a continuing diversification of the economy. There must be a recognition of longer-term and sustainable economic activity though we must always bear in mind the effect of this on the Islandís quality of life.
The issue of a natural gas supply for the island and the pressing matter of transport to and from these shores will have to be re-visited by the government as a matter of urgency. I will continue to try and improve the rate of the minimum wage. No sound economy was ever built on low wages or salaries.
There are many problems with the Present ministerial system that need resolving. It breaks my heart to see the amount of waste within government justified by one or other ministerial line. There is a need to safeguard the parliamentary rights of members of the Keys which have gradually been eroded by the block-voting power of the Ministers and friends.
Although I believe that the Chief Minister should have the power to direct policy over the other ministers, I also believe that he should he even more accountable to Tynwald
THE COMMUNITY SPIRIT OF ONCHAN
Over my years as one of your MHKs I have been involved with as many community organisations and events as possible. On this front I have developed a registered charity called the Onchan Community Scheme. This scheme rents Kenyon 's former butchers shop as a cafe facility for tile youth of the area helping to keep them off tile streets. This Charity will eventually provide a full time youth leader for Onchan. starting at the beginning of tile next financial year. This leader will work in partnership with tile Department of Education, Kenyon's Cafe, tile local churches and other voluntary youth organisations. Another part of the work of this charity will be to buy a minibus which can be used by any Onchan organisation to hell) with transport problems. especially for those dealing with the youth of tile area.
I believe that tile only way in which our agriculture and fishery can survive and prosper is for us to realise that we cannot compete with the UK so far as mass production is concerned. instead. I believe we should develop further those policies which I have promoted for years, that is, the development of more specialised markets. Increased concern over animal welfare and more emphasis on organic farming have to be part of the solution. I believe that tile new administration should look at ways in which we can claw back our fishing rights so that we can re-establish a thriving fishing industry in Manx waters. I believe that if it means using some of our new-found wealth in order to do so, we should do so as a commitment to the diversification of our economy.
I believe that in conjunction with the Islandís local authorities, there should he a radical overhaul of current bus timetables and routes. I also believe that it is essential that all bus travel be free for all users. This should be a major part of any traffic management scheme which has to be established if tile island is not to become grid locked. There should also be set up a user group which will represent the interests of all those who use public transport on the Island.
REGISTRATION OF LISTED BUILDINGS
I believe it is long overdue that an independent body be established to oversee tile registration of important buildings on the Island. The present system, in which the same Department of Government both registers properties, and can then de-register the Property to allow a developer to demolish it. has to be suspect. Heritage is important.
LOCAL AUTHORITY HOUSING
We need to catch up with the years of wilful neglect so far as local authority housing is concerned. We must recognise that we need this housing to he integrated with other sectors of housing, not just in our district hut also throughout the island, in order not to have a divided society.
A more progressive policy needs to be implemented for housing for the over-5 5s. Also, sheltered accommodation needs to be rapidly developed on the basis of social need with extra care provided in co-operation with Social Services. I believe a part-equity mortgage scheme is long overdue and is tile only effective way of helping those tenants whose family commitments have reduced and who would like to Purchase their own property later in life. B this system, the government would buy up to 50% of the value of a property which could only he sold by government agreement. That 50% of the value would then go hack to the government. S itch property would have restrictions ill perpetuity put on them requiring that only Isle of Man workers could purchase them.
I am proud of tile work that we have clone in support of the sports men and women of tile island, but now it is time for us to look at similar support for the arts which contribute so much to our quality of life. I believe that we need to look as a government for ways of helping groups by providing a small theatre and arts centre. Such a facility would not necessarily he run by government but by the groups themselves. and perhaps any new centre should be attached to the new secondary school planned for Onchan. I also believe that all new buildings Commissioned by Government should have a piece of public art in order to show our commitment to the local artistic community This would help local artists to stay on the Island.
The next administration must make sure that there is a period of consolidation before introducing any new initiatives. The issue of discipline in schools has to he addressed and I was very disappointed in the recent Education Bill and the way members ran away from dealing with this important topic. The right resources need to be provided to deal with disruptive pupils.
Whilst I am proud that the Island has not followed England and Wales in relation to the abolition of student grants, the Present system is urgently in need of review. I support the expansion of provision for nursery education.
Dentistry must not be lost from tile Manx National Health Service
We must develop a programme which will provide the services we all expect from our Health Services. We must directly employ more dentists, we must break away from the UK scheme for dentists, and we must investigate the possibility of requiring each dentist to undertake a prescribed amount of work for our Health Services to be registered to practice in the Island.
The present system of rating on the Island is wholly unjust to the point of scandal in that hugely different rateable values exist in different parts of the Island. A total review of the current rating system is long overdue, and the introduction of a rate rebate scheme for pensioners and low income families must be a priority in the next administration.
WASTE MANAGEMENT BOARD
There is a danger that this newly created Board will end up levying very high rates on everyone on this Island. I find it a scandalous situation that this body will he appointed by the Council of Ministers with no mandate from local authorities. It is important that local authorities are given meaningful duties to do, and they should be in at tile beginning of tile creation of this new Board. Also a member of Tynwald should be on the Board in order to make it accountable to Tynwald.
In order that the next generation of old age pensioners should have proper provision for residential or nursing homes if they require it, I believe that the new administration should investigate the feasibility of people born after 1960 paying a stamp in order to fund their future care if they require to be housed in a residential or nursing home. If re-elected I would push for such a programme to be started so that the next generation of old age pensioners do not have to lose their homes as the price of growing old.
LAY INSPECTION BODIES FOR NURSING HOMES
The time has come for us to set-up a body that is independent from both the DHSS inspection team and the home owners themselves which can freely visit any establishment and have unrestricted access to residents. This body should also have the right of access to the DHSS inspection team and to the political members responsible for the inspection facilities in order to make sure that there is no abuse.
This system of lay bodies should be extended to homes in the community and to residential homes. I believe this is one way of preventing abuse.
LEGAL AID AND THE LEGAL SYSTEM
I believe that there is a need for a total review of the legal aid process with a body undertaking a constant scrutiny of cases to ensure there is no abuse of the system. Also, there needs to be a recognition of the value of the advocates that undertake legal aid work. A further in-depth review of the legal system is needed to streamline it to make it more user friendly. I would also disbar the Isle of Man Law Society from investigating cases against lawyers and would instead appoint an independent legal Ombudsman to handle disputes, monitor advocatesí performance levels and to check on any misuse of public funds.
We are still a long way from ensuring independent monitoring of Governmentís performance in environmental matters but this lack of independence is something that still concerns me and I shall continue to fight for a more transparent system of monitoring. With the incinerator close to construction it will be vital that public confidence in those who have the responsibility of monitoring its use and output is there from day one. I will continue to support the Manx Governmentís line over Sellafield, which is that the plant should be completely closed clown and I think that we have to be unequivocal in our dealings with the United Kingdom Government on this matter. We also have to look at formulating a Clean Air Act that will protect the Islandís environment.
To the Electors
Peter is one of the most enthusiastic and hard-working members of Tynwald. He is at home in the House of Keys with his knowledge of the system and Standing Orders, enabling him to be one of the House's most effective operators, scrutinising the work of the Executive and the legislative programme, and asking the awkward questions that need to be answered. These are vital qualities for a national politician.
Peter Karran is also an effective and diligent member for Onchan as well as playing his full part on the national scene. He has acquired a well-earned reputation for an open, frank and outspoken approach to his work. He has taken a full part in the machinery of government, accepting, when no other member of the House of Keys would, the Health portfolio of the Department of Health and Social Security. He has also been the Chairman of the Water Authority which is starting to progress the renewal of its outdated infrastructure.
Peter Karran has still retained his vigour and interest in all things Manx, and is recognised as the most approachable of members by Onchan and Island residents alike, and he still cares as much about the Island now as at the start of his political career.
Peter should be judged on his performance over the past sixteen years as a member. He deserves to be returned on merit and I hope that you will give him your vote.
Please help us to help you and the Island by voting for Peter Karran on 22nd November.
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Published By Peter Karran
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REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE ACT 1995