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What should be the key areas of focus for our new Government?

What should be the key areas of focus for our new Government?

Thursday 01 February 2024

What should be the key areas of focus for our new Government?

Thursday 01 February 2024


Following the island's first successful vote of no confidence last month, some key local figures have opened up about what they think the new Government’s top policy priorities should be…

Express spoke to islanders across all sectors – including hospitality, sport, retail, and agriculture.

Here's what they had to say...

Make housing more affordable 

Kevin Keen OBE, Leadership Jersey  

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“The number one priority must be making housing more affordable, because it is at the root of so many other problems in our island.

"Our inability to encourage our young people to stay or return to Jersey, our challenges recruiting frontline public sector workers, the difficulty of encouraging economic diversification because people in start-ups can’t afford to live here.  

Housing problems are also likely to be the ultimate cause of health problems, like stress, excess alcohol use, etcetera. There has been some progress but without a truly joined-up plan and real urgency, predictions that our island will slowly go down the tubes will probably come true." 

Inject life back into the economy 

Gerald Voisin, Owner of Voisins Department Store 

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“In our new Chief Minister, I would like for someone to focus and lead the Council of Ministers in the direction of really growing Jersey’s economy, because for the last six years we’ve had people talking about it, but nothing has actually happened. And nothing will happen, until there is an understanding that it’s the framework within which businesses operate that needs to be changed to make it easier to do business and easier to run a profitable business in this island 

I would like for the States to stop trying to exert unnecessary control, otherwise we’re not going to get economic growth.”   

Bring confidence back to the industry 

Ana and Marcus Calvani, CEOs of the Jersey Hospitality Association 

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"Since we took on this role in the Autumn of 2022, we have worked hard to help the government understand the issues that are facing all businesses within our sector.

Our focus has been on trying to limit the endless list of cost base increases and make sure our island is competitive destination, bring confidence back to the industry, work with Government on a strategy and deliver growth for our Visitor Economy. That has involved hundreds of hours of meetings with ministers and officials, and we hope that the next group will engage in the same open manner, continue to put a priority on the visitor economy, and understand what our industry brings to the wider economy and quality of life for all islanders. 

We will support ministers who listen, understand, respect and continue to work with us to grow our industry. We’ve still got a lot of work to do, and the implementation of the strategy and delivery is now critical. It’s imperative that ministers understand this and its urgency.  

Staffing and accommodation issues, removing red tape, planning challenges, connectivity, updating laws, licensing and duty, just to name a few.” 

Fix the broken planning system 

Brian McCarthy, Managing Director of Le Masurier 

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“The priority from my perspective is housing and planning... The Government should be doing everything it can to get people onto the property ladder. We are delivering 238 apartments at Les Sablons and 149 at Merchants Square and these developments representgood value compared to our competitors.   

“We have had many positive conversations over the past two years with the Housing Minister David Warr and we look forward to continuing to work the new Council of Ministers going forward. I very much hope that our broken planning system is addressed. The situation that we went through, cannot be repeated.”

See the value in sport  

Steve Law, Interim CEO of Jersey Sport   

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"We understand that the Government of Jersey faces a number of challenges but from our perspective we would like to see a government that understands and values the benefits that sport and active living provide to the island and the complementary benefits that investment in this area will provide to other strategic priorities like health and education." 

Better public spaces and more power to the people 

Sasha Gibb, Public Voice: Common Ground 

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The two key priorities for islanders involved in our research have been sustainable transport systems and access to more and better green space.There should also be a focus on better design and more critical review – if you can’t argue why it makes our lives better, it’s not good design. 

One of the greatest challenges we face when it comes to public space and the built environment is resistance to change… and overzealous control from the public sector. Many of the frustrations from the Public Voice: Common Ground surveyees have been a lack of wild spaces in town and too much red tape restricting public performance and enterprise. 

“We need better government systems that make it easier for things to happen, and give more power to the people. Government departments should prioritise removing barriers, enabling learning and empowering businesses, the third sector and individuals. 

“There should also be more critical review. One impact of Public Voice: Common Ground has been to enable a Public Art Commission – an independent body of experts across public realm, public art and landscape to help government and the business sector make better decisions regarding public space and art commissioning.  

Transparency around spending

Rebecca Bailhache, CEO of Société Jersiaise 

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“The Société Jersiaise is part of the HAP (Heritage Advisory Partnership) with government and other organisations. 

“Our role in that group is to promote a better understanding and knowledge of our heritage and to secure its protection. 

“The most useful outcome from our point of view is to have transparency around Government spending in the sector, and a clear process by which any organisation can seek funding for projects which meet the aims of the Heritage Strategy launched in 2022.” 

Understand the value of farming 

Representatives from the farming industry (Doug Richardson, President of the JFU, James Godfrey, CEO of the RJA&HS, Philip Le Maistre, Chairman of the Jersey Milk Marketing Board) 

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"The Jersey Farmers’ Union and partner organisations representing the agricultural community are always keen to work constructively with the Government of Jersey, both current and future, to ensure that agriculture remains an important part of island life. 

"The Jersey Farmers’ Union, Royal Jersey Agricultural & Horticultural Society and the Jersey Milk Marketing Board, along with the farmers of Jersey, strive to produce high-quality food products, support the resilience of our island community, provide a diverse range of employment opportunities, achieve ever improved standards of environmental protection, enhance biodiversity and care for the countryside. 

"Last year’s overwhelming support of the Agricultural industry by 42 States Members was a landmark decision and all sectors of the industry are looking forward to 2024 with renewed optimism and are keen to carry on the extremely close working relationship with government that we have enjoyed over the last few years."

Address poverty  

Patrick Lynch, Caritas, which runs the Living Wage campaign 

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"The next government should focus on addressing the rising levels of poverty on the island by working with the food banks, emergency accommodation providers, and charities like Caritas. 

"The government needs to publicly acknowledge and admit to the scale of the poverty problem, as Richard Vibert, the former Constable of St Peter, did in his vote of no confidence debate speech. This was the first time a government minister, in public, has acknowledged the scale of the cost of living issues facing islanders and confirmed that more action is needed to assist struggling islanders. 

"The government should also fulfil its commitment to raise the minimum wage to parity with the Living Wage and apologise for the offensive language used in the hugely flawed living wage report published before Christmas. 

"In short, we need the next government to admit, grasp and empathise with the poverty and issues that islanders face and start to address them in a meaningful way."  

Work together to stop the 'bean drain' 

Consumer Council Chair, Carl Walker 

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“The Jersey Consumer Council would like to see the next Chief Minister and their Government prioritise addressing the cost of living crisis, which continues to hit islanders hard.  

Prices are still rising, pushing more and more towards or over the bread line, and little appears to have been done to address this since the effects of the ‘mini budgetexpired last summer.  

Living in Jersey is becoming unsustainable, and many islanders continue to consider relocating 

A new Government could bring interested parties and relevant experts around the table to thrash out ideas of how we can make this island more affordable for all.” 

READ MORE...

This article first appeared in this month's edition of Connect magazine.

You can read it in full here...

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