As the island’s election hustings come to a close, Gef found ourselves in the constituency of Douglas North to finish our tour of the capital this week.
The candidates for the constituency are: David Ashford, Kevin Oliphant-Smith, Ralph Peake, John Wannenburgh. Held at Willaston Primary School, it was chaired by former Clerk of Tynwald Roger Phillips.
Mr Oliphant-Smith was not present at the meeting.
First up, the introductions.
An issue we’ve seen before in this election, the first question saw the candidates asked whether they support continuing the horse trams on to the sea terminal, something which was delayed by the DoI to speed up the prom works.
Horse Trams 2
A continuation on the previous question, another attendee wanted to know why the decision was made to push the installation of the final section of the horse tram tracks.
Residency Controls And Infrastructure Issues
A wide-ranging question on how the island’s infrastructure could support new people moving over, including a suggestion that residency controls could address problems around local services availability. Also, candidates were asked whether the gov should consider trying to ensure people are trained for emerging industries.
A relatively simple question next on how our little island can maintain its relevance on an international stage.
Government Inefficiency And Pensions
With candidates speeding through the questions, one resident wanted to know what they had done, or will do, about government inefficiency and the pensions ‘crisis’.
Hospital Waiting Lists
The first of quite a few healthcare-related questions, no surprise due to the presence of the outgoing health and social care minister, this one focussed on long waiting lists at Noble’s Hospital and what can be done.
Drugs and Young People
After the Chief Constable’s report earlier this year, the issue of drug use and dealing amongst young people has been in the spotlight this election. Candidates were asked how they would address the issue, Mr Ashford and Mr Wannenburgh also address previous points in their answer.
One of the more interesting moments of the night came as one resident sought to ask those standing about the police’s operations around discovering drugs sent through the post office but was told candidates would not be able to answer.
Suicide Rates And Mental Health
An emotionally charged question came as candidates were asked how they would address the issue of suicide, especially amongst young men on the island.
Mental Health Services
On the back of the previous question, one attendee asked if basing mental health services in GP practices could alleviate any issues around people being embarrassed to be seen attending an obvious mental health clinic.
Continuing the theme of mental health, the next question focussed on a perceived lack of therapeutic services on the island and how candidates would improve on the situation.
Willaston Estate Refurbishments
The most local issue of the night focussed on the ongoing refurbishment of the Willaston estate council houses which the questioner said had reached a deadlock with struggles in communication between the council and the gov. They also wanted to know if the scheme would leave the houses fit for a green future.
How can we get people out of their cars and onto buses, bicycles and their feet? How would you improve our public transport?
The next question addressed a variety of problems with the island’s gov with accusations of it being inward-looking, lacking in accountability and wasting money, with issues around the effectiveness of gov consultations also raised.
Free Sanitary Products
After some embarrassment around certain candidates seemingly not understanding what exactly the phrase ‘sanitary products’ referred to, they finally (kind of) gave their opinion on whether the Isle of Man could follow the Scottish by offering them for free.
National Insurance And Social Care
Following the UK gov’s recent vote to increase National Insurance, many Manx eyes have turned to our own gov to see what they will do, specifically in this question around paying for social care.
Where To Serve
With a variety of departments that MHKs could work in, the three candidates in attendance were asked where they would be best placed to support the public.
Working With The Department
Another question on the back of the previous, one resident asked how candidates would work with the department’s they just expressed interest in joining.
Some not so subtle jabs towards specific GP practices and long waits to get an appointment saw one candidate direct the question towards the health and social care minister.
Leg Co Reform
Should Leg Co be directly elected? Are there too many members?
Hemp Licence Fees
After a whopping 20 questions, the final one looked at various issues around the growing and trading of hemp in the Isle of Man, especially the cost of buying a licence.
Despite the many questions answered by the candidates, there was still just enough time for a closing statement from each of those in attendance.