Preparing for Snow

As an amber weather warning was issued and the island prepared for snow to hit on Saturday, the DoI was readying its fleet of gritters. A spokesman said: ‘We have an expanded team on the road tomorrow. There will be 6 gritters out  from early morning putting rock salt on the road network. There are additional teams  arranged who will  spread salt by hand from pick ups at key points, as well as replenishing salt bins. Other crews will be on standby in order to react to  emerging issues.’

Prescription Review Coming

A review into prescription charges will be undertaken in the 2021/22 financial year. Health Minister David Ashford was asked by Lawrie Hooper what plans he has to review the prescription charges regime; and when any review would be completed?

Mr Ashford said: ‘Reviewing the prescription charges regime is a very complex, and multi-faceted process. This was last done in great depth in 2017 when various proposals were brought forward to CoMiN, including simply raising the prescription charge and changing the categories of people who would qualify for free prescriptions.’

However, at the time none of the proposals could be agreed upon.

Mr Ashford added: ‘With the intense work the DHSC has had to undertake regarding Covid-19, a subsequent appraisal of the system has been delayed, and at the moment our focus must remain on both the Covid-19 vaccination programme and the successful split of the Department and Manx Care. Therefore it is proposed that the review of the prescription charge regime will be undertaken later in the financial year 2021/2022.’

Scaffolding Costs

Manx Utilities has spent just over £1m on scaffolding in five years. Chairman Tim Baker was asked by Julie Edge how much the MUA had spent over the last five years. He said: ‘I can confirm the vast majority of this figure, some £973,566, was spent with Red Scaffolding Limited. Other scaffolding contractors engaged in this period were Absolute Scaffolding Limited (£33,420) and Secure Scaffolding Services Limited (£3,925).’

UK R-Rate Down

The UK’s R-Rate, which shows how Covid is spreading is believed to be at its lowest point in months. The latest R number, estimated to be between 0.7 and 0.9, also suggests infection numbers are shrinking. 

This is the first time since July that R has been this low.

It means, on average, every 10 people infected pass it on to between 7 and 9 more.

Experts warn that infection levels remain high, however.

Impeachment Trial

The second impeach trial in the Senate against former President Donald Trump has been labelled a ‘witch hunt’ by his legal team. His lawyers have opened their defence by saying he did not incite the 6 January riot with Michael van der Veen saying: ‘You can’t incite what was already going to happen.’

The largely partisan trial is highly unlikely to convict Trump as it would require many Republicans to vote against their party’s former president.