TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY – This is a fundamental requirement of any democratic government. Without it, abuses of position, influence, and other forms of corruption will eventually develop and flourish. I have and will continue to fight to make the States of Guernsey transparent and accountable.
To facilitate this, I want a Freedom of Information law introduced in Guernsey as it was in the UK in 2000, Jersey in 2011 and the Isle of Man in 2015.
EDUCATION – Providing the very best education possible for our young people is an issue I was passionate about even before the 2016 election, and I have spent much of the last four years fighting to provide this for our young people.
While helping young people achieve the best educational outcomes possible is the most crucial objective, the facilities do have an impact on the outcomes. I have always fought very hard to prevent the impractical 2-school model proceeding and believe that the previous, cheaper 3-school model will provide the best and most suitable learning environment for our young people.
CONNECTIVITY AND TRANSPORTATION LINKS – This was an issue at the last election. There has been no resolution, and COVID-19 has exacerbated the problems.
Reasonably cheap, efficient and reliable connectivity are essential to our economy.
Condor is now under new ownership, and we are yet to see what changes they may make to the service. Aurigny has become an even more massive millstone around our necks, and it was a pretty big one before COVID-19. The States have injected more than £120million into Aurigny over the last four years in a combination of refinancing and debt guarantees, and this is simply unsustainable. Unfortunately, every time someone suggests taking a serious look at alternatives, protectionism from some senior Deputies prevent proper consideration. We have to break through this and look at potentially radical changes to how we manage our air connectivity.
AGING WELL AND LONG-TERM CARE – Besides recognising the contributions made by previous generations and providing proper care for them as they age. I would also like to see more initiatives to engage them in our community. This should be done jointly with the third sector, with the States providing resources and the third sector helping with implementation.
Finding ways to pay for this sustainably is an issue, but one thing I am adamantly against is depriving people of the equity in their properties to provide funding. I believe this would penalise working people who have saved to buy a property while wealthier individuals would find ways to protect their assets. I am also concerned that it is a first step towards introducing inheritance tax through the backdoor.
ASSISTED DYING AND ORGAN DONATION – I spoke and voted against Deputy Gavin St Pier’s attempt to legalise assisted dying in Guernsey. However, I do support individual choice despite being a Catholic. I suggested setting up and funding a Swiss Foundation to facilitate the estimated two or three people a year wanting to take this course. The foundation would provide two services to people who choose to visit somewhere like Dignitas in Switzerland. It would assist in completing all the paperwork and meeting all the legal requirements, a significant burden. Also paying the costs for those who can’t afford them to ensure that cost does not prohibit some from making this choice.
This would enable Guernsey people to have the choice without legalising assisted dying in Guernsey.
Guernsey’s Human Tissue and Transplantation (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Legislation was enacted in May 2020 and introduced a deemed consent (opt-out) system. I voted against this. Not because I disagree with organ donation, but because I believe people should give their explicit permission. Many members of the public are still not aware of this significant change in the law requiring them to opt-out or automatically be considered an organ donor, ready for harvest, upon their demise.
CANNABIS REFORM – I support liberalising the cannabis laws. For too long, we have criminalised people for holding minimal quantities for personal use. Criminalisation which has life-changing implications, making it difficult or impossible for them to pursue some careers and freely travel internationally.
DISCRIMINATION – Discrimination is terrible regardless of the basis. We have now unanimously enacted discrimination legislation. The States, as Guernsey’s largest employer, needs to begin putting in place the measures needed to comply and provide assistance to businesses, small and large, with their compliance.
THE STATES AND CIVIL SERVICE – I believe that both the States Assembly and Civil Service are dysfunctional organisations which are failing to deliver the government that our island needs and deserves. I have already taken rather drastic steps to expose this to people and will continue to fight to reform both institutions for the benefit of all.
GOOD GOVERNANCE AND SCRUTINY – I believe both the Assembly and Civil Service fall well short of what is required. Scrutiny is the Committee and function which is supposed to ‘audit’ the actions of both bodies and ensure they are transparent and accountable. But, as was illustrated during the fiasco preventing Scrutiny from investigating questionable activities within the Education Committee, Scrutiny’s powers were limited.
Scrutiny’s powers have now been increased, but I believe they still need strengthening further before Scrutiny can truly function the way it needs to.
THE ECONOMY AND FISCAL POLICIES – I am concerned that the current fiscal policy is becoming one of tax and spend. We have seen constant increases in a range of taxes to boost revenue ostensibly to cover budgetary deficits which can’t be eradicated due to the States’ propensity for finding new ways to spend money.
The States’ needs to change focus from finding new ways to tax people, and instead, do what successive Assemblies have promised term-after-term, to grow and diversify the economy.
Our economy is massively overdependent on the finance industry. All our eggs are very much in the finance basket. To mitigate risk, we need to diversify our economy. The States’ have proven this is not within their competency. Luckily, we have many entrepreneurs on our island or interested in coming here. They would be more than happy to build new business and diversify our economy. The States do not even need to facilitate them; all the States need to do is stop putting up roadblocks. Guernsey bureaucracy thwarts many new opportunities for our island. Just look at the roadblocks put in front of those trying to grow cannabis on Guernsey, an industry that we have supposedly welcomed.
REVIVE AND THRIVE – We need to exclude any social engineering or pet projects from the Revive and Thrive recovery strategy. We should be targeting smaller investments which produce an income or reduce future costs. Providing financial support in areas where the majority of the money will be spent on-island and rapidly enough to stimulate the economy quickly.
INFRASTRUCTURE – The Committee for the Environment and Infrastructure oversees Guernsey’s infrastructure. It was supposed to develop an Island Infrastructure Plan. It was started in 2009 but was never completed, even though it is supposed to be one of the critical components of the overarching Island Development Plan (IDP) which regulates all property development in Guernsey.
This failure means that we have no clear picture of either the condition or capacity of crucial parts of our islands’ infrastructure. I want to see a comprehensive Island Infrastructure Plan developed, which can then be utilised to review and potentially revise the IDP.
TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY – The COVID-19 pandemic has hit these sectors hard. We need to continue supporting them during this challenging time to prevent business failures. In the future, we need to change our approach to marketing our island. We will never get the mass tourism of the 1970s and 80s returning. We need to reposition ourselves in niche markets and promote ourselves to a new type of visitor.
I would like to see fundamental changes made in how we market ourselves. We currently have several States funded organisation that market our island to different audiences with varying degrees of success.
They should be consolidated into one organisation which contracts out to marketing companies to run the creative campaigns while merely serving to help identify the target audiences and audit the effectiveness of the campaigns.
ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY – We have inherited a wonderful island from those who have gone before. We must preserve and, hopefully, improve it, for those who will come after us. We can and should be an exemplary global environmental citizen who pursues sustainability at every opportunity. However, implementation must be in ways which are practical and financially sustainable.
RENEWABLE ENERGY – We can and should be pursuing renewable energy sources whenever they are economically and environmentally viable. We currently have vast acreage of derelict greenhouses which could be converted to solar panel farms. However, Guernsey Electricity imposes punitive charges on anyone connecting to the electricity grid while generating over 25kws of solar energy, making it commercially unviable to install larger solar arrays. We have to remove roadblocks like this before we can pursue the promise of renewable energy sources.
CULTURE AND COMMUNITY – I was very happy to vote in favour of adopting Guernésiais and French as national languages. These are a part of our history. They are unique features that differentiate and defines us. We need to preserve as much of what we were and carry it forwards with us for future generations. This will help define future generations and preserve the essence of our unique heritage.
THE THIRD SECTOR – Charities and other third sector organisations perform numerous valuable roles in our society, often manned by volunteers and raising their own funding. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many are suffering a potentially terminal funding decline. The Social Investment Fund has provided support, but this requires extending and increasing to enable charities to assist our community during the difficult times ahead. Providing financial support to the third sector should be part of the Revive and Thrive strategy.
I want to see a closer working relationship between the States and the third sector with charities encouraged to assist in the delivery of some States’ services. With the States providing financial and practical support to assist the third sector in their efforts.
DEVELOPMENT AND PLANNING – The Island Development Plan (IDP) was the first significant piece of legislation debated at the beginning of this term. It came to the States almost as a done deal, something we could potentially tweak, but not change in any significant way.
The IDP has given property developers well-defined criteria but is plagued with bureaucratic delays and inefficiencies. It has also resulted in a system whereby Deputies and the pubic have very little ability to influence the process. I want to see the IDP reviewed and changed to make it more responsive to public concerns and wishes.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING – There is a desperate need for affordable housing. The States have tried various initiatives, including the Partial Ownership Scheme offered through the Guernsey House Association. Unfortunately, they have met with limited success. The removal of mortgage tax relief has also increased the cost of home ownership. I would like to see the introduction of practical schemes to help people get on the property ladder and enjoy home ownership.
OPEN MARKET AND EMPLOYMENT LICENSES – In 2011 the announcement of a review of the status of openmarket properties resulted in a open-market property prices, a drop from which values have never fully recovered. Subsequent changes to licensing laws have added to the wows of the open-market sector and increased competition in the local-market, pushing up rents. I want to see a complete review of both the open-market property sector and the employment licensing laws to see what can be done to address these issues.
SPORT AND LEISURE – This is one area where the COVID-19 pandemic may have had some small benefits. It has encouraged people to go out and enjoy our unique island environment rather than fly abroad for holidays. Only time will tell if this surge in on-island activities continues and helps to increase the activity levels of islanders.
Guernsey has always produced a disproportionately large number of internationally competitive sportspeople for its population. Possibly due to the wide variety of sport and facilities available in our small island. Whatever the reason, it is something we can be proud of and use to encourage everyone to participate in some form of sporting activity.
I support further investment into sports as part of the States’ initiatives to encourage people to be more active and healthier, whatever their age or interests.
PARISHES AND DOUZAINES – Our parishes have histories dating back more than a thousand years, centred around parish churches and even having their own unique dialects of Guernésiais. Some of that individual character still survives, and it is something to be cherished and preserved, with the Parish Douzaine being an ideal body to do that. During the various restructurings of the States over the last few decades, increasingly functions performed by the Douzaines have been centralised. Consequently, the role of douzaine’s at the heart of each parish community has diminished. I would like to see that process reversed with roles and responsibilities (and resources) returned to each douzaine. Possibly even changing islandwide voting in the future to allow for a single Deputy to be elected at the parish level and becoming the parish representative (twenty-eight Deputies island-wide and one per parish).
HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE – We need to reinstate the reciprocal health agreement with the UK for our ageing population. We also need to improve our social services. We still have too many people slipping through the net and not getting the support they need and to which they are entitled.