15th December

Tynwald Sitting

An interesting session, locally a question about progress with Knockaloe where the Minister gave reassurance and I know from my involvement from DEFA that progress is being made in accordance with passed consultation with residents etc. Short term lets will produce income in the meantime while an overall scheme with a search for occupiers is being progressed.

Interesting information with regard to our ongoing structural deficit which in March 2011 was 182 million and March this year 110 million. It seems there is still much to be done in either reducing costs to increasing tax revenues.

Public Sector Salaries continue to rise with over 813 people earning over £50,000 year and 15 more earning over £200,000. However, drilling down on the figures it appears that the higher earners are mainly Senior Health Staff where we have to compete in a global market.

We reviewed The Strategic Plan for Mental Health, a great step forward. It would seem at long last to be recognising that its not just physical ailments that cause serious problems in peoples lives. The plan should result in more workers at the coalface rather than senior staff and may even enable the repatriation of some people who are currently in care across which will result in better access for relatives and may even save money.

The Planning Department is going to be moved from DOI to the Cabinet Office but we are assured this will not result in any extra expenditure.

Not before time the Freedom of Information Act will be phased in affecting the Cabinet Office and DEFA in February this coming year and with a complete roll out which will include local authorities by 2018.

Local Authority Amalgamation

Under the Local Government Act Tynwald has now voted to combine Laxey, Lonan, Maughold into a combined Parish District of Garff. There has been calls for compulsory local authority amalgamations for some time but this has come about voluntarily as a result of shared services and economies of scale. There was feeling in Tynwald that this was sensible evolution and better voluntary model for amalgamations rather than compulsion, it will be interesting to see whether other smaller local authorities in due course follow.