Chief Minister Allan Bell MHK has welcomed the open exchange of views which took place during Tuesday evening’s community meeting.
More than 150 people attended Peel Centenary Centre to discuss a wide range of issues with members of the Council of Ministers. The event was the second in a series of regional meetings organised as part of the Chief Minister’s commitment to making Government more transparent and accessible to the public.
The Erin Arts Centre will host the next community meeting on Tuesday, October 23, while a further gathering will take place at a venue in the north of the Island early next year.
Mr Bell chaired proceedings in Peel and said he was encouraged by the positive response from local residents.
‘My Ministerial colleagues and I welcome these opportunities to engage directly with the public. The meetings allow for a two-way dialogue; we can explain the Council of Ministers’ position on current issues and also listen to people’s ideas, opinions and concerns.'
Following the Chief Minister’s introduction, Treasury Minister Eddie Teare MHK provided an overview of the Budget and an update on the financial rebalancing programme, before summarising the key recommendations contained in the independent Scope of Government Report. The meeting was then opened up to questions from the audience.
There were lively discussions on a number of topics including the Pinewood Shepperton film proposal, the need for collective responsibility within Government, efforts to diversify the economy, youth unemployment, public sector pension liability, Freedom of Information legislation, workers’ terms and conditions, education and training opportunities, and social care provision. The debate around Government’s partnership with Pinewood sparked particularly robust debate, with the Chief Minister stressing that the Isle of Man needed to take calculated risks in order to grow the economy.
Mr Bell said:
‘The employment problems experienced in the Isle of Man during the 1980s are what led me into politics in the first place. I do not want the Island to slip back to that situation again. We must continue to diversify our economy and create new jobs, and I believe the film proposal will deliver many benefits for the Island. Our move into e-gaming was considered a risk, but that sector is now one of the cornerstones of our economy and one of our biggest employers. I am pleased that the community meetings have been generally well received by the public. They are a genuine attempt to be open and honest, and I think people appreciate what we are trying to achieve. The event in Peel was well attended and I look forward to another good turnout when we visit Port Erin in October.’