Arbory, Castletown and Malew MHK Jason Moorhouse has announced his intention to seek another five year term in this September’s General Election.
Mr Moorhouse, a former teacher, was first elected in 2016.
In a statement he said: ‘I have found the role of MHK to be both challenging and rewarding. I had always wanted to become a community MHK and I have worked hard to achieve this. A person who you would be happy to approach and share any of your concerns. This dialogue is exceptionally important and if I am elected in 2021 I want this to remain a key feature of the work. If we have not had the opportunity to chat, I really do hope that we can soon rectify this. From my perspective the input of the local people is essential if the Island is to achieve what it is truly capable of and the successful candidates must have the ability to listen and to harness these opinions.
‘I have been proud to represent the people of Arbory, Castletown and Malew at national services and other events. Having studied and taught Economics for many years, I am of the strong belief that the Island’s economy should be the most important consideration. If the Island is a place where people can do business and have the protection and support they require, we will all benefit. In 2016, I was given Departmental responsibility in Infrastructure and DHSC. I wanted to make a difference and these two areas of government are challenging.
‘During the first lockdown, it was an incredible privilege to be in these Departments and to be at the Board Room Table when some of the most challenging decisions ever made by the Island’s politicians had to be considered. The initial meetings we had in DHSC regarding the impact of Covid really were extraordinary; being part of the process placed me in a unique position and I had to learn an incredible amount very quickly. That experience certainly changed my approach to government and if elected in 2021 I really want to see the decision making process of Government incorporate that ‘Can do’ attitude. There is no reason why the Island’s government should not have the same dynamism and flexibility as Google! The Island’s people really are its greatest resource; education and training need to be of the highest quality and accessible for all.
‘The greater the Island’s human capital, the more productive we can be and that success will enable social support to increase. This virtuous cycle will help lift people out of poverty and allow them to have goals which they have the support and confidence to achieve.The Island’s young people are our future and policies need to be developed which focus on them; if successful these can be opened up to other people. It is essential that the Island’s youth have access to the best education and training that is available. Young people also need support to ensure they can access suitable property to either buy or rent. These people also need the incentives and support to keep them here and to encourage them to come home.
‘In June 2021 I brought a successful Tynwald Motion to ask the Council Of Ministers to produce a report on options in this key area. This will hopefully form the basis of a new cutting edge strategy in this key area.Having experienced almost five years as a Politician, I have realised how important it is that timely answers are made available. In the last five years I have asked over 750 of Parliamentary and Urgent Questions. These always have an impact, some such as the Parliamentary Question which I asked the DEFA Minister about the plastic packaging of local turnips, which led to the introduction of the crucially important environmental legislation.From my perspective, open democracy is key. The influence of local people should not be restricted to a choice at the General Election.
‘In the last 5 years, I have ensured that the people of Castletown were able to have a dialogue with key decision makers with regard to Arbory and Malew Street improvement, and a meeting was arranged for the people of Ballacriy to help identify a way forward with regard to improved internet access. The senior decision makers in Highways also met with local people in Ballabeg and St Marks. In all cases progress has been slow, but all are moving forward. In a similar way, I have been able to help raise concerns with private sector businesses about the actions which they take. Again, I have been very proactive in this area and I was the only named Tynwald Member who actually contributed to the 2020 BBC consultation on free TV licences for people over 75. I believe we should have been sending clear messages to the BBC.
‘In May 2021 the Chairman of NatWest Bank sent me a letter, thanking me for making him aware of Isle of Man Bank’s plans to introduce bank charges for local charities, later that week the proposed charges were put on hold. Manx Telecom’s plans to decommission 35 phone boxes was halted and the consultation process re-started following my intervention, because of their failure to adhere to the Telecoms code. I was also able to have active discussions with executives from ITV and persuade them to include a voice over and details of Victim Support at the end of the Best Little Prison in Britain. I have tried to go that extra mile on a regular basis and it has been a real privilege to do this.
‘One of the greatest concerns in the local area is the functioning of the housing market. Many people have raised concerns about first time buyers, those seeking to buy a larger home and the impact of overseas investors. In January I brought a Motion that asked the Policy and Reform Minister to assess the challenges in this sector of the market and report back with recommendations. With regard to the local housing market and the impact of overseas investors, I have been able to have extensive discussions with local estate agents and developers in recent weeks. The increase in demand which is fuelling the price increases appears to be Island based. The fundamental issue is that the small size of the local housing market can mean that a relatively small change in numbers wanting to buy a property inflates prices quickly. Finding a mechanism to ease such spikes will be a challenge. From my perspective, there needs to be a range of suitably priced homes to buy and rent in the local area.
‘When I had the delegation in the Department of Infrastructure, a project was developed to offer mid-market rent homes in Colby which now provide a new and effective way for local people to access the housing market. Initiatives such as this need to be developed further. Whilst the natural environment and the biosphere must be a key focal point, this should not be about grandiose projects but getting the basics right by ensuring houses are insulated and people are encouraged to lead more sustainable lives. The emphasis must be on buying local and ensuring the local area has the magic which satisfies local people and attracts others. As the regional service centre, Castletown is certainly moving in this direction.One area where I have been particularly active is with regard to preserving important traditions, in particular in ensuring that Castle Rushen has been brought up to the standard ready for the Governor’s Inauguration. I was instrumental in halting the sale of the old police station in Castletown after it had gone through the standard process and was placed on the open market. I also brought a successful Motion to Tynwald in May asking for a business plan to be produced to enable the Peggy to return home.
‘The 2021 Castletown Christmas switch on was special, I was able to work alongside some incredibly motivated local residents and Commissioners to create an outstanding evening after fears were raised about the event being cancelled – Thank you! I remain concerned about the size and cost of central government. After asking several related questions I successfully brought a Motion to June Tynwald asking for a report to be produced on the options in this area.I hope that as you assess the options before you in September 2021 you are able to take into account my performance over the past five years.
‘I hope that I can be given the opportunity to go forward and to activate change, in a way that will enhance what we have and make the Island the best place to do business and to live. It must be the destination of choice, the place where the young return and arrive for the first time, but at the same time retaining the cultural, natural beauty and unique history which really does make the Island such a special place to live and work. Please do not hesitate to contact me with your thoughts and questions. I hope to visit every house in the constituency before the election, but I know that will be a massive challenge. Hopefully, this letter will provide some of the vital information about how I operate and what the focus needs to be over the coming years.’
Mr Moorhouse joins Graham Cregeen, Ian James Clanton, Stephen Crowther and Tim Glover in declaring their candidacy for Arbory, Castletown and Malew.
The General Election is on September 23, if you’re planning to vote, make sure you’re registered and if you’re planning to stand, let Gef know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.