As Tynwald Day 2021 begins to fade into the memory, those who used their right as Manx residents to petition their gov at the base of the Hill will be hoping that when the new House of Keys is formed in the autumn their causes will be picked up.
Gef spoke to seven people who petitioned the gov this year, each with their own story to tell and cause to raise.
Face Masks for Kids
David Cregeen’s petition is for the gov to make it a statutory requirement for all health facilities to stock and provide masks for children as well as adults. He told Gef: ‘I took my son into A&E and we were both handed adult masks and the adult mask obviously didn’t fit my son. When they handed it to us they said “it probably won’t fit but here are”. So not only did it not fit, but it’s wasting adult masks as well.’
Mr Cregeen said he has attempted to raise the issue with the DHSC but having not seen any solid movement, he felt he had to petition Tynwald. He said that unlike many petitions which seek for committees to be established, Mr Cregeen’s petition could be resolved with a simple change in the law to make it a statutory requirement.
David Buttery told Gef that he wants to see a single gov department take over the maintenance of all footpaths and bridleways in the island, to ensure that they can be enjoyed by, and made safe for, everyone. He added that he realised the state of the island’s footpaths and bridleways as he has spent a lot of time walking around the island since the borders first closed.
Mr Butter said: ‘At the moment, they’re managed by three different government agencies and as a result, different agencies have different priorities so some of them are left quite neglected. So what I’m calling for is a single government agency with sole responsibility for the footpaths and bridleways. You would then have a single priority list and a single budget to deal with them, you’d also then get a single agency to go to with reports of problems. It isn’t always clear who owns them, some of them are in private ownership and others are owned by local authorities so it’s just trying to simplify it and create a better network of footpaths.’
Medical Provision in the North
Simon Mann’s petition focused on, what he said is, the lack of investment in medical services in the north of the island, despite the increase in population as new estates have been and continue to be built.
Mr Mann said: ‘What’s happened in Ramsey and the north is that there have been so many new developments, that the group practice unfortunately hasn’t moved with the times. That’s a governmental problem and they simply haven’t provided enough scope for the practice to expand. They’re doing the best they can but on social media, I think they said they were taking up to 500 calls a day, well no small GPs surgery can possibly provide the necessary service. So my petition is to see the practice completely replaced within the footprint of Ramsey Cottage Hospital and it is then redeveloped into a modern medical facility as a second to Noble’s in the event that Noble’s was overcome by some single event. At the moment we don;t have 24 hour A&E cover and I am recommending that this is provided on a first responder basis in a similar way to a paramedic service, that people in the north of the island can access 24 hours a day.’
Fears for Tiers
Victoria Hodgson’s petition relates to the introduction of the two plus two border policy which lets people who have had both Covid vaccine jabs at least two weeks before arriving on the island to just go about their business without the need to isolate or be tested. Mrs Hodgson and her fellow campaigners say this policy is discriminatory and creates a two tier system, they also have concerns around not testing everyone who arrives on the island.
Mrs Hodgson said: ‘The border entry policy that was introduced on June 28 allows unrestricted entry to the island, but only for those who have had two doses of a covid vaccine so that clearly discriminates against the unvaccinated, people prevented from having the vaccine for medical reasons, for personal and religious views that prevent people from having the vaccine. The unvaccinated, or those who have only had one dose, have to isolate and test on days one and six, so there is a financial, as well as social, cost for them. The discrimation doesn’t seem to me to be justifiable, certain groups are disproportionately affected, such as women, ethnic minorities and the young.
She added that she wants to see the border policy in whatever form it takes, to apply ‘equally and fairly to all, right now it isn’t fair and my aim is a fair and inclusive policy for all people’.
Let’s Talk About Tax
Thomas Ashton’s petition seeks to resolve an apparent flaw in the island’s tax system. His petition said: ‘The Isle of Man 1970 Act (with subsequent amendments) includes a need for taxpayers to apply for a ‘concession’ (some 11 years later) to have the payments made for the years 2004/05/06 recognised, when the taxpayer already had the payment previously recognised the year it was paid. However, failing to apply on time, for a second recognition, means you receive a demand to pay the same tax again, which by anyone’s standard is a ‘travesty of justice’.
‘One can only presume that the current members who voted for the need to introduce this ‘concession’ either didn’t understand the law’s implications, or don’t share the same values of fairness as the popul;ation of the Isle of Man they represent. Simply put, to demand tax from 17 years ago again, when all records show it was paid, amounts to attempted theft.’
Linda Keigean said her petition concerns the provision of services for those suffering from secondary cancer.
Mrs Keigean said: ‘There appears to be a disparity between the provision of care for those with primary cancer and those with secondary cancer. In particular, with primary cancer, there is a single point of contact for everything, whereas for secondary cancer patients there isn’t that. The medical care is excellent, I have to say my petition isn’t about the medical provision, but the care for the whole person which seems to me to be absent for secondary cancer patients. You may be astonished to learn that under an application I made under the Freedom of Information Act, I discovered that the island doesn’t even keep statistics as to how many patients there are suffering with secondary cancer in the Isle of Man.
‘Without knowing that measure, how can that condition be managed at all? So I’m seeking a select committee to be established which will establish how many patients there are in this category and then hopefully go on to make recommendations as to their treatment.’
Mrs Keegan said she wanted to see a secondary cancer nursing team established to assist those battling the disease.
Educating in the Shadows
David Watts was using his petition to ask for a select committee to be established to examine to what extent there is a ‘shadow education system on the island’.
He explained: ‘You only have to look on social media and see parent after parent seeking recommendations for private tutors, you’ve seen Kip McGrath establish two very successful outlets in Onchan and Castletown, they are the fastest growing franchise in that group. So what is it that is forcing parents to feel that schools aren’t providing what they are required to do, under Section 24 of the Education Act, which is an education to suit a child’s ability. We have children taught in mixed ability sets, we have persistently disruptive behaviour. Behaviour is a real issue in our schools, [the data] for that came about because of a Freedom of Information request that I did where DESC produced their own leagues tables.
‘Now the government aren’t fans of league tables, but they produced one for that and we are the worst performing, behaviour wise, of any local education authority in England. I want them to see how much the shadow education system here is contributing to our schools results and why parents feel the need to do it and whether some of these issues, like behaviour, can be addressed. We have a system, especially with behaviour, where consistently disruptive students are moved from one school to another, but that’s not helping anybody. We should be looking at pupil referral units and other such mechanisms and whether some children perhaps are better suited to be educated out of the same school system.’