A vote for your future..
The Isle of Man has prospered over the last five years, giving us the highest number of people ever in employment and reducing unemployment to virtually nil. This has enabled our young people to remain and build a future on the Island, helped Government to enhance our public services and embark on an ambitious programme of infrastructure renewal.
However, there now appears to be a strong possibility of a world recession and undoubtedly this will impact on the Isle of Man. We have come a long way in the last few years, from being a sleepy backwater to a player on the world stage.
The challenge of the next five years is to provide the leadership to create a sustainable and diversified economy in the face of many external threats, to enable us to protect our achievements, enhance our quality of life and further promote our Manx national and cultural identity and independence. This can only be achieved through political maturity, experience and stability and the essential need to be committed as a full time representative of the people.
In today’s fast-changing world and the current political and economic climate, stability and experience are going to be vital for the Island in the near future. This is not the time for wholesale changes. Now, more than at any time in recent history, the Isle of Man faces new challenges which require clear thinking and political experience to represent the people on a national and international basis.
Higher priority needed for training and re-training
Support should be given for the Government’s strategy to reduce income tax to 10% and 15% within three years. This will stimulate confidence within our existing business community and attract new business.
Tynwald should establish an Economic Development Agency within an enlarged Department of Trade and Industry to co-ordinate the main revenue-earning departments of Government.
It must develop innovation, identify new opportunities and provide the dynamic leadership required to strengthen and diversify the economy in a changing and highly competitive world.
High priority must be given to training and re-training, together with a greater focus on vocational training in schools to ensure that as many of the best jobs as possible go to Manx people. A strong and flexible skills base is vital to every successful economy.
I promoted the idea of a Manx film industry and I am pleased that it has been successful. There is still potential to develop a major industry around it such as television, animation, commercials, video and distance learning.
To further stimulate this we should consider incentives to encourage artists, writers and performers to establish themselves here, as they have done in Ireland, producing economic and social diversity.
I have also launched Internet Gaming which has already attracted world famous companies to our shores. This has the potential to create a large number of jobs, substantial revenue for Government and will further diversify the economy.
Population growth - rate cannot exceed the Island’s capacity to core
Our economic success has undoubtedly brought great benefits to the Island but it has also placed strains on Manx society through concerns about population growth and its impact on the environment. The Residence Act has now been approved and initial measures for its introduction are being prepared. This is an imperfect proposal which will be intrusive and bureaucratic, impacting on everyone, including established Manx residents. It may, though, act as a brake on excessive immigration.
It is essential to our quality of life that the rate of immigration does not exceed the capacity for our infrastructure to cope or place unacceptable pressures on our countryside from excessive building. Equally important is that it does not introduce social disharmony and division within our community, which can only damage the Island and undermine our stability.
However, if controls are imposed it is imperative that they be introduced sensitively so as not to damage the economy at what may be a time of economic downturn. In a tight labour market, a more flexible approach to the age of retirement, especially amongst Government employees, could reduce the need for immigration.
Government has worked hard over the last few years to improve the position of our pensioners. I fully supported the enhanced Manx Pension Supplement being raised to 50% of the basic pension. It is recognised that some people feel aggrieved because their contributions fell short of the requirements. I believe a graded supplement reflecting the proportion of the shortfall could restore fairness to the benefit.
There is still a need to find a satisfactory solution to the problem of provision for residential care for the elderly. At a time when both physical and financial security is most important, we must ensure that this vulnerable section of our community continues to have our support.
Law and order
As Minister of Home Affairs I am pleased that recorded crime figures are at a ten year low. Police numbers have risen by 15% and the police budget by nearly 50% in the last five years. We must continue high profile community policing and ensure that front line personnel numbers remain appropriate to give the public the reassurance and protection they deserve.
Local policing plans drawn up by the police, local authorities and the community would reflect differing local requirements and priorities. Greater use of the Special Constabulary should be encouraged. To improve transparency and accountability, an independent police complaints system should be introduced.
Town wardens, employed by local authorities to police parking, litter, dogs, by-laws etc could complement the regular policing patterns with fines going to the local authorities to pay for the service. Severe penalties against drugs dealers balanced with better rehabilitation support for drugs users will assist the police in their fight against drugs abuse.
A new prison is urgently needed. There is a hard core of regular offenders but I believe with the effective rehabilitation, training and education facilities which would be available in a new prison, re-offending rates can be reduced creating a safer community and reducing the cost to the taxpayer.
Helping the disadvantaged
To create a harmonious and inclusive society it is important that the benefits of our economic success are enjoyed throughout our community. I supported the introduction of a minimum wage. This is a major step forward and I look forward to seeing an enhanced figure in due course.
The changes to our taxation system have taken many low earners out of the tax bracket completely. However, the imposition of increased water rates, together with possible refuse and sewer rates will disproportionately affect this group. I have fought strongly to prevent this and believe either alternative methods of funding should be considered or a meaningful rate rebate scheme be introduced to protect the most vulnerable. I would also support a negative income tax scheme being introduced to further assist the low earners.
The takeover of Manx Airlines by British Airways is potentially bad news for the Isle of Man. I believe Government, as a matter of urgency, should extend the runway at Ronaldsway to allow bigger aircraft to land. This would encourage the low costs airlines, such as Ryanair, to service the Island thus reducing fares, and stimulate more charter business.
Allan Bell’s record shows a strong commitment to the welfare of Manx people and the independence of the Isle of Man. These two issues are inextricably linked. In these changing and challenging times we may well experience greater pressures on that independence from the United Kingdom, the European Union and further a field.
There should be greater freedom for the Island, but it has to be recognised that the next step may well be full independence. Currently, the Isle of Man’s constitutional relationship with the UK and Protocol 3 of the Treaty of Rome works very much in our favour.
Total independence - at this time, particularly in the light of recent worldwide events -may not be in our best interests and would not resolve many of the problems facing the Island. Any future changes must be for the benefit of all our community.
The final say on independence must eventually be taken by our people themselves, not at the behest of vested interests elsewhere.
Protecting our environment
To ease the pressure on existing communities, I support the concept of a new town, possibly at Jurby. This would reduce the continual expansion of our towns and villages into the green belt and boost the northern economy. It is important to Ramsey and the environment that landfill tipping ceases at the Ayres. I have supported the incinerator as I believe there is no other option in the short term. I do, however, strongly support a dynamic policy to reduce, re-use and recycle our refuse. Ultimately, a successful implementation of this approach could make the incinerator redundant.
I welcome the forthcoming importation of natural gas both for the consumer and to generate electricity. Together with the new cable, these measures will diversify our energy supplies and reduce pollution levels.
We should be creating incentives and grants aimed at energy conservation. The introduction of smokeless fuel together with a Clean Air Act will undoubtedly improve the environment of our towns and villages.
I believe it is important for the Isle of Man to continue its fight for the closure of Sellafield. We get all the disadvantages, yet no benefit from this establishment which remains a potential threat to the welfare of the Island.
As a former Minister for National Transport, I was able to initiate free transport for pensioners as well as the Ramsey Skipper Bus. If we are going to tackle the increasing problems of traffic congestion and parking we must seek to expand public transport in an effective and innovative way. A modern bus fleet with more flexible rostering and a free fare structure, though initially expensive, would ultimately be financially and environmentally cost effective.
I strongly support the major renewal of our water infrastructure. After the numerous problems with the Ramsey supply, it is essential to ensure customers that we have a clean and healthy water supply and reduce leakage to an absolute minimum.
An environmental Protection Agency, independent of Government, could be an effective vehicle to police environmental abuse.
Adequate and affordable housing is a fundamental human right and absolutely vital for the social cohesion and economic success of our Island. Government has an ambitious programme of house building already underway which will start to bear fruit in the next few months. There is urgent need for both low cost and rental housing. Ramsey alone has nearly 200 on the Commissioner’s waiting list.
I believe we also urgently need legislation to allow for the introduction of Housing Associations, supported by Government, to enable part mortgage / part rental schemes to be progressed. A further concern exists for the position of single people on low incomes and I have promoted the legalisation and regulation of lodging houses to overcome the problem in the short term.
There is an urgent need to review the House Purchase Assistance Scheme to ensure it reflects market prices. Ramsey’s future viability depends on a sufficient supply of affordable housing, particularly for younger people.
The completion of our new acute hospital will be a major boost to health provision on the Island. A state-of-the-art facility will make it easier to attract the numbers and quality of staff required. I support the re-introduction of a nurse training facility to encourage young Manx people to train locally and become fully involved in the Manx nursing profession. We are fortunate to have a good Health Service but I believe that the time has come for a thorough review of our health provision, to modernise the service and strike a proper balance between management and service providers. We need to ensure that personnel numbers and funding are adequate to deliver a first class health service. I am concerned about the increasing waiting times for appointments to see doctors, dentists, consultants etc and believes that this needs to be addressed with some urgency.
The long overdue Disability Discrimination Act should be rapidly introduced and it is important that the community care programme for those with learning difficulties should continue with a closer involvement of the families with Social Services to ensure the optimum provision for each individual. More respite provision in the north of the Island is also needed.
Following the impact of the UK foot & mouth epidemic, tourism requires urgent attention. I am convinced it has a major role to play in diversifying the economy and, after many years of restructuring, we now have an industry that has the quality to compete effectively.
A substantially increased marketing budget is essential to reclaim lost business. Extra support for our major events such as the TT and Manx Grand Prix will also be necessary to restore their position. Development grants to upgrade and expand the tourism infrastructure should be encouraged, along with the strategic use of the second casino licence.
A Children and Young Persons Strategy Group, of which I am a member, has been formed to develop a coordinated approach by the various Government agencies dealing with young people. It ranges from education, social services, criminal justice to leisure and health, covering a considerable number of issues.
This group is of fundamental importance and has my wholehearted backing. I believe it will ultimately bring considerable improvements in the level of support we give our young people and families.
Adolescence can be a difficult time and it is essential that young people do not feel socially excluded from society and that their voice is heard at all levels of Government. A review of the Department of Education’s Youth & Community Service provision is overdue to ensure its relevance to the present day.
Government must also assist in the provision of and access to a wider range of leisure activities. Free bus travel outside of school hours would be beneficial to many. The teaching of parenting skills and greater awareness of parental responsibility is a necessary part of overall support for young people and their families, particularly to combat the spread of under-age drinking.
Fighting for Ramsey...
Although the House of Keys General Election is for a new national Government, there are many pressing local issues which require urgent attention. Ramsey enjoys almost full employment but there has been a slow-down in commercial activity in recent years largely as a result of concentration on the regeneration of Douglas.
If re-elected I promise
For the young People of Ramsey...
As chairman of the Ramsey Youth Centre Management Committee and a member of Beryl’s Bus and Bonwick House Family Resource Centre committees, I am acutely aware of the inadequate facilities available for the youth of our town.
Protecting our heritage
Ramsey’s heritage and environment is precious and must be protected. We are merely custodians of the environment for future generations.
Positive improvements for Ramsey...
As Minister of Home Affairs, I have successfully increased the resources available to the police to combat crime.
Since my re-election in 1996 I have had the honour of serving Ramsey and the people of the Isle of Man in the following capacities:
It has been a Privilege to represent the people of Ramsey for the last 17 years. I have done my best over that period to sincerely reflect your views at all levels of Government and to work in the best interests of Ramsey and the Isle of Man at all times.
As the election approaches I ask you to judge me on my record of service, hard work and full time commitment to you. I have listened to all opinions, advised where necessary and tried to give a lead where appropriate
The next five years may well be Politically and economically more difficult because of the changing work! situation. It is now very important that Ramsey puts its past differences behind it as we strive together to revitalise our community enhance Our quality of life and build a future that is tolerant, inclusive, caring and prosperous
I have worked with diligence and integrity to that end. I hope I have earned your trust to enable me to continue the work and merit your support on Polling day.
Published by Allan Bell
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REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE ACT 1995