I would like to formally announce that I am standing as a candidate (LibVan) for MHK for Ramsey in the 2016 General Election to the House of Keys.
It has been my absolute privilege to serve Ramsey as a Commissioner for the past four years and an honour to have been elected as Chairman earlier this year by a new Board of Commissioners who I firmly believe will serve Ramsey with distinction. There is still a lot of work to be done in the local authority and I am disappointed at the thought of leaving it unfinished but I am not able to sit by and ignore the scale of the challenges facing the Island.
The next five years will be the most challenging the Island has faced in a generation as the struggle to rebalance the budget continues in the face of significant financial pressures. There is a real need for a smaller and more effective government, which means central government taking a hard look at the services it provides and more responsibilities for local authorities. Local services should be provided at a local level and national services provided, and paid for, by national government. It is inevitable that change is coming, but it should be considered and pragmatic change, not pushed through for expediency.
This doesn’t mean change should be slow, but where changes are needed quickly they should be clearly explained and Government’s decision making process should be transparent and open for all to see with a clear set of priorities identified at the outset.
Our NHS spending is vastly over budget, the cost of public sector pensions threatens to cripple government spending and the true consequences of Brexit aren’t likely to be known for years. At the same time Government reserves are down to critically low levels and there is still some way to go to fully balance the budget. Set against this, the Island has long had success developing niche markets and our key sectors continue to show strong growth and punch well above their weight on the international stage.
The Island is at a crossroads, where we have an opportunity to effect real change and make real improvements, but it needs to be grasped now or we risk drifting aimlessly for the next five years or more while the Island’s finances and public services deteriorate to a point where they can’t recover.
It’s clear that the main focus of the next Government should be on addressing and overcoming our financial challenges but at the same time it is essential that they do not lose sight of the people they are empowered to lead. Too often decisions can be made, often with the best of intentions, that unfairly impact on those least able to bear the burden. A focus on the bottom line is not always the best approach and sometimes decisions that save money in the short term can end up costing more in the long run.
I strongly believe that we deserve a Government that is not afraid to lead, to have the difficult conversations and who have the courage to make the choices that need to be made. The Island deserves more than MHK’s who just follow public opinion, or who are too afraid of their own futures to make the right choices. Not all decisions will be popular, but we don’t elect our representatives to sit on the fence. We elect them to do what is in the best interests of the Island.
The election will be held on the 22nd September 2016 and the Government have produced a website with guidance for voters.