UK Covid R-Value rises above 1

In the UK, the Covid R-rate has risen above one. However, it appears that next month’s removal of Covid restrictions across the UK will still go ahead. 

Israel and Hamas agree ceasefire

After 11 days of fighting, in which over 250 people have died, Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas have called a ceasefire: with both sides claiming victory.

Condemnation of Marin Bashir after Dyson investigation

The Dyson investigation, commissioned by the BBC last year, has found that journalist Martin Bashir had engaged in ‘deceitful behaviour’. In 1995, Martin Bashir had bank statements forged to convince Princess Diana that her brother, Charles Spencer, had been paying Diana’s staff to spy on her. Bashir’s deception was a ruse used to get Diana to agree to a Panorama interview.

Both Charles Spencer and Prince Harry have directly linked the interview to Diana’s death. This week has also seen Prince Harry share that the trauma of his mother’s death resulted in his own drink and drug use.

The Duke of Cambridge also shared that he believed that his mother had been failed by the BBC.

It Wasn’t Me

With the prom scheme coming under further scrutiny, DoI Minister Tim Baker has distanced himself from decisions made by his predecessor Ray Harmer. Mr Baker was asked by Douglas East MHK Clare Barber what involvement the Burroughs Stewart project management team has had with the decision to delay the laying of the southern team track section; and what advice they provided?

In his response, he said: ‘In April 2020, at the request of the previous Infrastructure Minister, the Project Team was asked to identify a way of finishing the main Promenade construction contract sooner. The Project Team, which is led by Burroughs Stewart Associates (BSA), worked with Auldyn to identify a proposal. This included the removal of the Southern section of the tram track.

‘BSA also provided technical advice on how the track could be terminated near Broadway. The previous Infrastructure Minister took the decision to de-scope the works following discussions with the local Members of the House of Keys, the Department for Enterprise and local businesses.’

Bussing It

There was no rest for Mr Baker and the DoI in written questions as he was asked what engagement his department carries out before making changes to bus timetables by MLC Kate Lord-Brennan. He said that Bus Vannin does a yearly review of the services before the public of its timetable and bases this on comments and feedback throughout the year.

He added: ‘The data on usage is reviewed and there has to be a balance of the service provision with the budget available. This includes any changes in travel habits by either older people or students. The review of student use is undertaken each September in consultation with the DESC and the schools, to make sure we align with changes in catchment areas and pupil numbers. This includes provision of after-school activities.

‘Detailed proposals are approved by the Department before applications are made to the Road Transport Licensing Committee. The statutory role of consultation is with the RTLC. The bus network review is consulted with more formality, every 5 years, when all Commissioners are written to. This is due to take place again in 2022. Ad hoc meetings with various Commissioners and community groups take place throughout each year.

‘When the new timetable is introduced, all bus stops with timetable cases are updated. This normally takes about a week to complete, commencing on the Friday before the change.’

Area Plan

A draft area plan for the north and west of the island will be published before the end of June 2022, the Policy and Reform Minister has said. Ray Harmer was asked to provide an update for the key dates and milestones of the plan. Preliminary publicity for the plan is currently underway and is set to finish on June 25. Following that, Mr Harmer said: ‘A draft plan must be published within 12 months of the preliminary publicity.’

After this, there is a consultation on the plan, which he said will last for at least 10 weeks, before a public inquiry and publication of the final report. Then another 21 day period for modifications will follow before it eventually ends up at Tynwald for members to vote on which will likely happen at some point in the second year of the new administration.

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