Growth is a subject which divides opinion in Jersey like no other. A thriving (aka growing) economy is the engine of the island’s prosperity; and that prosperity attracts, and in many ways, depends on, people coming here to work.
Yet the natural environment does not take kindly to the repercussions of population growth – the recent island plan debate over where to put thousands of new homes is just one example of what happens. Greater consumption, more waste, less space.
How you choose to balance those issues dictates where you stand on this, and the last month has seen some interesting facts emerge which are influencing opinion.
The latest official census recorded a population number of 103,267 – higher than the previous census, but lower than more recent official population estimates, with the reduction blamed on... wait for it...covid and Brexit. Isn’t everything?
That document also suggested there were more than 4,000 private homes lying empty.
Any employer in Jersey knows from first-hand experience how tough it is to find the staff they need.
So, have we reached a point when continuous growth is faltering? And if so, how do we adapt to ensure continued prosperity?
One man with an interesting take on this is Nigel Blandin, the recently retired founder of 4Group. Connect speaks to him on page 18; he describes continuous growth at all costs as “the philosophy of the cancer cell,” and argues that with finite resources, we need to recalibrate our expectations, prioritising our quality of life.
But clearly that is not straight forward as often our quality of life depends on services which can only be viable in a thriving economy with the demand and affluence to support them.
It is a debate which few politicians are willing to tackle head on in Jersey, and the coming elections next month should give voters the chance to dig out their views on this most important of subjects.
‘Population growth’ is often cited by voters at election time as their number one issue, underpinning all others – this is the one time when they can pin down prospective candidates on their thinking... yet somehow, the argument always seems to drain away into the sand of half-truths and conflicting promises.
Connect is here to continually provide the info for you to make sense of those, and to have the material you need to challenge at election time.
Enjoy stocking up!