I am 49 years old. I was born in Douglas, Isle of Man. I attended school in Douglas before studying for my teacherís qualification in Liverpool. After qualifying I taught in Lancashire, before moving to West Germany to work in the service schools. For the majority of the time I worked in Germany, I was a member of the Service Children's Education Authority Advisory Service, where I held responsibility for the teaching of Mathematics in the service schools in Northwest Europe
I have been married for 27 years to Jill, who is currently Head teacher of a Douglas Infants School. We have one grown up son Ben, who after graduating from University, has returned to the Island he is currently employed with a major Life Insurance Company.
Returning to the Island, we lived in Ballabeg for 19 years, before moving to our current house overlooking Bayr-ny-Carricky in August of 1999.
I am currently employed as Branch Manager for a leading firm of UK Chartered Loss Adjusters, based in Douglas.
I am a member of Ballabeg Methodist Chapel, where I am the Chapel treasurer; I have represented the Isle of Man as the Lay representative to the Methodist Conference in Derby and Leeds.
Since 1982, I have been a member of the Isle of Man Board of Education
As a member of the Board of Education I have served on various Committees, for the last 17 years as Chairman of the Special Services Committee. In that time I have been instrumental in the changes in the way in which children with special needs have been educated within our Island schools. I took great delight in addressing a Conference organized by SCOPE in Liverpool in October 1999, where I delivered the keynote speech on Inclusive Education.
For the last 10 years I have been Chairman of Castle Rushen High School Governors. I have chaired two Sub Committees of the Board, looking at the constitution of the Board of Education, and the developing role of Board members. The most recent development was the introduction of independent governing bodies for primary schools. I now chair the governing bodies of Ballasalla and Arbory schools
I feel that my experience on the Board of Education has equipped me well to cope with the life of a Member of the House of Keys. The Department of Education is the second largest department of Government, and having been involved in its day to day life, I feel more than confident that I would be able to take on the role of MHK which would not only require me to look at the interests of a particular area, but also of the whole Island.
Economy & Industry
Some feel that the economy is over heating and we must slow it down. I firmly believe that there is a danger with this view as we could end up talking down the economy. The progress made over the last 10 years has been great. The Island is in a strong position. We are using our resources to improve the infrastructure for the benefit of others. We need to ensure a continued careful growth of the economy in order to maintain our current standards. We must be mindful of the need to maintain the development of both new and established industries. We cannot afford to take for granted that the finance industry in the Island will remain strong. There are many external pressures on the Islandís standing as a finance centre and we need to monitor the changes taking place in the UK, Europe and further a field which may affect our status. The Government needs to have in place strategic planning to ensure that no matter what happens outside the Island, we are still able to offer an environment which will encourage the development and the retention of our finance sector. The income generated by the finance sector is important to the Island to enable it to continue to develop its own infrastructure.
Other industries in the Island are equally important. The traditional industry of farming is one such example. It would seem that the industry has escaped the problems of Foot and Mouth, but there are many other difficulties facing farmers today. It is important that Government continues to provide assistance to enable farmers to continue to play a vital part in the provision of our food. It is also important that Government takes the opportunity to look at ways to encourage young people to enter the farming industry. To do this we need to make it an attractive opportunity for at present it is an industry where the level of investment is high, while the rewards are low.
Tourism has played an important part in the Islandís life for many years. We need to encourage development of new facilities both in the South of the Island and the Island as a whole. To this end, I feel that those who wish to develop new hotel facilities in the South should be given encouragement. Also, the much talked about Marina for Port St Mary should be progressed, as this would be a welcome and added resource to the South of the Island.
Although fishing is an industry which like farming has declined over the years, we should continue to support those who go to sea, ensuring that adequate protection for fish stocks and a fair price is obtained for the fish caught.
It is important that the Island develops all areas of its economy and gives encouragement to those who wish to develop new and exciting industries in the future. The developing e-business sector has been helped due to the Islandís respected position as a jurisdiction with high standards of regulations. This has given the Island the opportunity to be at the forefront of developments within this sector.
External inspectors have told us that, the Island has an education system to be proud of. This has come about not only by the investment of large sums of money from Government, but also from the dedication and the hard work of the Island teachers. I would wish to continue to support the funding of education for our young people who are a natural resource that should not be wasted. I am concerned that the Island teachers are given the necessary support, encouragement and reward for their hard work. The recent survey of our teaching staff has highlighted some areas of concerns. It is to be hoped that the new Department of Education will accept the recommendations of the working groups set up to look at these concerns. Many new initiatives have been introduced over the last five years. We must continue to carefully scrutinize new initiatives within education, using the next few years to consolidate and enable all new initiatives to become firmly established to the benefit of all.
I would push for the building of further facilities at Castle Rushen High School, where the numbers have passed 1,000 pupils, and there is real need for additional accommodation. At Arbory School there is a need for a further building programme to replace the mobile which has been there for 20 plus years, and to provide additional classrooms with an extension to the very successful Special Needs Unit together with adequate parking.
Financial support given to students in higher education should be adequate, without the need for incurring large debts by the end of their study. The system of student grants currently in operation is more generous than that from English Local Education Authorities, but is still not enough to pay for their travel, accommodation and food; books and materials. I will continue to support the Department of Educationís policy of not asking students to contribute towards tuition fees.
Government must look at ways of ensuring that people who wish to purchase their first property are assisted in doing so. This can be through the Government House Purchase Scheme, which, even though it has recently been reviewed, still falls short of providing the assistance to those who need it the most, namely our young people. Developers should be encouraged to include a number of properties suitable for first time buyers in any new development. We should look at other ways of helping those who wish to purchase their first home, possibly by introducing shared equity schemes or the establishment of Housing Associations. In the terms of new Local Authority housing, there is an obvious need for this throughout the Island and in the South also. I feel that the opportunities taken elsewhere in the Island to construct small areas of housing for the elderly, would be of benefit to people in the South by freeing up larger properties for families.
The reduction in VAT where, building repairs have been carried out by registered contractors, has encouraged people to invest in their own property. I would wish to pursue a widening of this reduction in VAT to include building materials and supplies where directly purchased by the householder who may wish to carry the work to his own property. This may encourage more people to purchase older properties for refurbishment and redevelopment.
We can not let another 5 years go by without resolving this problem of affordable housing.
The Island at the present time is very buoyant economically; the Government is investing in its infrastructure. However, we must not lose sight of the needs of two particular groups of our Islandís community.
The elderly have contributed to the growth of the Island and, without their efforts, we would not be where we are today. I accept that there have been improvements in the amount paid to some sections of the community but we still need to ensure that the pensions paid are regularly reviewed to enable all to enjoy a good standard of living.
Also an area for concern for the older people of our community is the availability and the cost of residential nursing care. We need to ensure that this is affordable and readily available to those who need it. Many elderly people are concerned about the payment of residential care, which can result in their savings and capital being used up to pay for the accommodation where this is sufficient. It then becomes a burden on their family. Is it right to penalise those people who have worked hard all their lives for the Island?
The increase in Child Benefit was a welcome move, however, I would question whether it is right for this to become a taxable benefit, and I would wish to enquire how many families have now become labial for tax because of this increase in the allowance. Are they any better off, or are they in fact worse off? We need to ensure that those who need help the most receive it. Just as
affordable residential care is a must for the elderly so is the availability of childcare facilities. There should be tax allowances for all these costs.
I look forward to the opening of the Islandís new hospital at Braddan and the Southern Hospital. However, these need to be adequately resourced in terms of staff, otherwise there seems to be little point expending so much money and not being able to use the facilities to their full potential. As the population grows, I would also ask the question whether we have enough General Practitioners and other associated Health Workers to provide adequate levels of health care, it would seem that we donít. The current problem which appears to be developing over the provision of dental treatment and the move by some dentists to carry out private work needs to be tackled without delay.
I welcome the moves recently introduced within the Isle of Man Constabulary and the openness whereby their development plan has been produced and published. The encouragement from the Chief Constable for the Police to become more visible is to be welcomed and supported. My concern Island wide is that we may not have adequate numbers of Police Officers to carry out the policies which have been well thought out. We all welcome high visibility policing, but to ensure that it is effective I would support the additional allocation of staffing.
We are still awaiting the introduction of a proper local bus service. If we are to encourage people to use public transport then we must provide a service that will be of use. I would wish to question the reason for the delays in introducing a local bus service linking the various villages in the South of the Island. A service of this kind is long overdue and should be introduced without further delay.
There is a need for us to seriously consider making more use of the railway, which links the South of the Island to Douglas. Following the re laying of the tracks following the IRIS work, we have the opportunity to review the situation; this new track could be suitable for running small commuter trains, which could give a journey time of some 35 to 40 minutes between Port Erin and Douglas. The more people who travel on public transport the fewer cars there will be on the roads.
I support the Chief Ministersí 5 - year drug strategy which was a welcome move. I am concerned, however, that whilst drugs, having been given such a high profile, the problems of under age drinking, whilst not being overlooked, continues to grow. An increasing number of our young people throughout the Island are managing to obtain alcohol and I would wish to look at ways of controlling this growing problem.
We are fortunate on the Island that there are many opportunities for young people to take part in activities during the week; these range from sports clubs to youth organisations. Encouragement must be given to young people to take part in these activities rather than to spend their time sitting around on street corners.
First Time Voters
Some of you will have the opportunity to vote for the first time. There is the danger that some of you will think there is little point in going to vote. I would ask you to take the time to read all you can about the issues of today, and go out and use your vote. Also start getting involved in what is happening on your Island; it is never too early to take an interest in local or national politics. I have always enjoyed listening to the views of the young people of the Island I have met over the years in our schools; you have much to contribute to the growth of the island, so now that you can go out and use your vote, it is a start to help shape the Islands future.
I believe in being responsible for my actions and would undertake to keep the people of Rushen aware of my actions if elected through regular newsletters and by maintaining my web site. I would also hold a regular surgery as well as being available at other times to help you.
I firmly believe in value for money and would look at this in the light of all government expenditure.
I do not have all the answers, but I can assure you that I have plenty of energy and enthusiasm together with experience within a main Government Department to be able to look at not only the needs of Rushen, but of the Island in general, for if we do not concentrate on the development of our Island then the needs of Rushen will be impossible to meet.
The next five years are going to be important to us all, we need to make sure the Island continues to develop in all areas in such a way that it will be of benefit to all. The continued growth in population needs to be monitored carefully to ensure that the qualities of our Island are maintained for future generations.
I thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope to meet as many of you as possible between now and the election. However, if I have been unable to call at your house, or if I have called when you have been out, and you wish to discuss any of the points mentioned, then please feel free to contact me, as detailed below.
I can assure you a vote for JOHN GILL on Election Day will not be wasted for I will work hard for the people of Rushen and the Isle of ManYours John Gill
Telephone: 832183 or 480007
Published by John Gill
Printed via the IOM Elections Website. www.iomelections.com
REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE ACT 1995