Manx Independent letters, May 22, 2014

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Dismay at having missed operation

Copy of letter sent to Flybe, ref: flight BE605, Sunday May 18, scheduled for 1.40pm.

I was booked on the above flight, along with my friend.

We were due to fly to Liverpool for a kidney transplant operation that was arranged for today [May 19]. My friend is my donor and I am to be the recipient of this amazing gift.

We arrived on time for the flight, however this was delayed several times before being eventually cancelled at around 3pm.

We then formed a queue with fellow passengers and eventually we were allocated a later flight scheduled to leave in the evening at 7.30pm. We were at this point offered a £3 ‘light refreshment voucher’.

The later flight was then further delayed and again cancelled at approximately 8.45pm by which time it was too late to arrange a further flight that day.

We were offered no explanation for the cancellation.

Aside from being stuck in an airport for over eight hours, this has obviously had serious repercussions regarding my scheduled operation.

This has now been cancelled for the timebeing as the hospital were unable to re-arrange a new time and date.

My parents have had to cancel all the bookings they had made for accommodation and travel in order to visit me in hospital.

My donor has had to re-arrange time off work. I have had to re-order dialysis fluid and equipment. The hospital team and surgeon have to find a new time and book a surgery. We have to re-check there is sufficient hospital beds for us when we’ll need them. I’ve not even covered the potential health risks.

I have a few questions: why were medical emergencies not prioritised when customers were asked to re-book?; why was there no explanation or apology from any member of staff for the cancellation?; how hard would it be to group people together where everyone can hear the representative so that everyone receives the correct information at the same time about what to do, instead of people whispering along the line of the queue to find out from one another?; why was only one member of staff allocated to the desk to re-book, slowing the whole process down and creating further tension?

We received in total £6 each for light refreshments by way of vouchers.

In my view this is completely unacceptable by way of compensation for the inconvenience and stress caused to both myself and my donor.

I find it quite amazing that in the 21st Century an airline company cannot guarantee a same day arrival across a 60 mile journey for such an important occasion.

We were offered a further flight the next day (today) however the hospital are unable to accommodate us and provide surgery now so that is inadequate too.

There were plenty of rumours from fellow passengers at the airport that this is a frequent occurrence with your company due to lack of seat sales.

I’m not in any position to judge, however, given the lack of explanation or apology from Flybe staff then clearly people are going to form their own opinions on this matter.

Now you may not be concerned about such rumours, however, it is still your company’s reputation that is diminishing and it does appear that your public relations are severely lacking.

We discovered all the delay and cancellation information on the screen at the airport. The only staff contact we had was a woman directing the queue and a desk clerk who gave the impression we were inconveniencing them rather than the other way around.

We have contacted the patient transfer office at Noble’s Hospital about this matter and requested they review their arrangements with your company as to be so unreliable in such important matters is not good enough.

Graham Brunstrom, Address supplied.

Editor’s note: We invited Flybe to respond to the letter above prior to publication.

Andrew McConnell, director of communications, said: ‘Flybe takes this matter very seriously and realises that, in this instance, we failed to provide the quality level of customer service that we are committed to providing our passengers, especially as we are particularly aware that many of our customers using this route are travelling for medical reasons.

‘We are fully investigating as a matter of urgency why the communication by our third party agents to those passengers booked on Sunday’s flight from the Isle of Man to Liverpool fell so short of expectations.

‘We apologise for the situation and will be communicating directly with Mr Brunstrom to offer him a full refund and also the compensation due to him in line with EU Regulations.

‘Flybe sincerely apologises to Mr Brunstrom.’

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Bring us in line with UK system

In two recent letters, respectively from RT Quayle (Letters, May 8) and DA Reynolds (Letters, May 15) there was forceful and much deserved criticism of the present harsh, punitive and exceedingly unfair Isle of Man regime of assessment and collection of income tax, which compares most unfavourably with that of the UK.

As an example, let us take an individual whose UK assessable income tax liability for the tax year ended April 5, 2013, was ultimately agreed and paid to the Collector (as opposed to any income tax deducted at source) the total sum so paid amounting to say £4,000.

For the following tax year ending April 5, 2014, he would be required to make two payments on account, each being equal to 50 per cent of the total paid for the previous tax year, namely £2,000 by January 31, 2014, and £2,000 by July 31, 2014, with any additional tax ultimately found to be due to be paid by January 31, 2015.

If, however, for any reason he felt that his total liability could prove to be at least (say) £1,000 less than that for the previous year, he could apply for postponement of payment of £500 of each of the above instalments, paying £1,500 by January 31, 2014, and £1,500 by July 31, 2014, the only drawback to this being that if ultimately those payments were found to have been inadequate, he would be charged quite high interest on each of the two shortfalls from their respective due dates.

Rather than risk this, he might instead decide not to apply for any postponement, but to pay on account the full amounts demanded.

Furthermore, in view of the large size of the payments, he might, if cash flow permitted this, as a prudent measure decide to set aside one twelfth of £4,000 (say £334) each month in a separate account starting on May 5, 2013, and finishing on April 5, 2014, thus making quite certain that the money was available when needed.

Now let us compare his situation with that of a comparable individual in the Isle of Man, whose IoM assessable income tax liability for the tax year ended April 5, 2013, was ultimately agreed and paid to the Collector (as opposed to any income tax deducted at source) the total sum so paid amounting to exactly the same amount as the above UK individual, namely £4,000.

For the following tax year ending April 5, 2014, he would be required to make not two half-yearly payments on account, but one annual payment on account, but at 5 per cent more than the total he had paid for the previous tax year, that is £4,200.

But here is the horrible part: all of this is payable by January 6, 2014, a whole three months before the tax year has even ended, with any additional tax ultimately found to be due to be paid by January 6, 2015.

If, however, for any reason he felt that his total liability could prove to be at least (say) £1,200 less than that for the previous year, he could apply for postponement of payment of £1,200 of the above instalment, paying £3,000 by January 6, 2014, the only drawback to this being that if ultimately this payment was found to have been inadequate, he would be charged quite high interest on the shortfall from its due date.

Rather than risk this, he might instead decide not to apply for any postponement, but to pay on account the full amount demanded.

In view of the large size of the above payment he might, if cash flow permitted this, as a prudent measure decide to set aside one twelfth of £4,200 (say £350) each month in a separate account but (and this is really horrid part) in his case having to start three months before the start of the tax year, say no later than January 31, 2013, and finishing by say December 31, 2013, to make quite certain that the money was available in good time for the miserly due date of January 6, 2014.

The present regime does the Isle of Man no credit at all, creates a thoroughly bad image, and at the earliest possible date needs to be brought in line with that of the UK.

Indeed only in one respect is the Isle of Man regime superior to that of the UK, which is that in the IoM the accounting for the tax of each tax year is kept separate, whereas in the UK the figures relating to two tax years are balled together on a complex Statement of Account, the layout and content of which is usually at first sight practically unintelligible, even to an accountant with many years experience of grappling with tortuous and complex tax calculations.

However, what is certainly even more serious and worrying than the above unsatisfactory situation as to the actual collection of income tax, unlike the latest trend in the UK, is the apparent greed and rapacity of government in the Isle of Man, with its by now perpetual, ongoing and draconian restriction and/or abolition of the various deductions, reliefs and allowances, which have hitherto been available to its now long suffering taxpayers, all of which is making a sick joke of the previously supposed status of the Isle of Man as a tax haven!

Certainly, empire building, waste and inefficiency all on a massive scale must still be alive and flourishing inside government, coupled with widespread complacency, but tragically this complacency is more than matched by the feeling of helplessness and resultant apathy of the far more numerous majority outside government, who in spite of every discouragement arising from the now crippling burden of unsustainable, unreasonably high and escalating taxes both direct and indirect, coupled with sub-standard and deteriorating public services, are still only just about managing to keep the whole precarious tottering edifice on the road.

Time overdue for a change? You may very well think that, but I could not possibly comment!

Mike Bourne, 4 Hailwood Avenue, Douglas.

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Cannabis needed to relieve pain

I have read with interest the Chief Minister’s comment on the decriminalisation of cannabis in the island.

I was self-medicating using cannabis and found myself in court.

I was prosecuted and convicted of cultivation and possession of cannabis after proving to the satisfaction of the police, Attorney General and the court I was in fact medicating and not involved in criminal activity by dealing.

I have a degenerative spinal issue to deal with, which causes a great deal of discomfort in my lower back and legs.

I have used many types of prescription drugs to control pain and inflammation, some of which have some horrendous side effects including nightmares, hallucinations, depression, insomnia and being unable to use the toilet, loss of balance and damage to my stomach lining and many more over a long period of time.

So I turned to cannabis. The results for all types of pain was instant relief with the side effect of making you hungry.

If, like I do, you live in a council or commissioners house you will receive a notice to quit, as I have a notice to quit my home of 27 years much to the distress of my wife and I.

So I now have a criminal record and have a good chance of being evicted.

Punished twice for the crime of trying to alleviate pain and improving quality of life – is this justice? I think not.

The law is making criminals out of people who are not.

I know there must be many more people on the island who are suffering and in a worse condition than myself.

Sympathy is not what is needed, understanding is, and the choice to choose!

Name and address supplied.

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