Briefing note 4

The briefing note below is the latest in our series summarising prospective business at States Meetings, to enable 2020 Association Members to be informed. It is largely self explanatory; as usual, Members’ comments are welcome.

Future States Business brief (4) – Meeting of 24 April 2019.

Let us go straight to the big issue for the States Debate at this meeting, which is item 4 on the Agenda, the Review of Air and Sea Links Infrastructure.

With regard to air links, P&R are going to ask the States to support the extension of the airport runway from 1463m to 1570m, which can be carried out within existing boundaries, and to rule out further investigation of the case for extending the runway to 1700/1800m, which would require some extension of the airport boundary towards the East, although only into land already reserved, in planning terms, for such purpose. This latter is acknowledged to be a more “future proofed” long term solution, but would, obviously, take longer to implement, cause more physical disruption, and be more expensive (although the logic behind the stated objection that there would be increased costs in “servicing an airport scaled towards greater payload capacity” seems odd, bearing in mind that increasing capacity seems to be the very advantage being sought). Whilst the arguments presented in P&R’s policy letter are all, accordingly, tailored in favour of the former as their preferred option, they do propose that if the States are not satisfied with this minimum extension project (which was so shortsightedly not carried out in the course of the last round of airport improvements in 2011/12 – another example of Guernsey moving little and late), then they invite the States to approve a capital vote of up to £700,000  for studying the economic business case for the longer extension (This surprisingly high figure appears to arise from its unnecessarily covering the costs of all possible studies.)

2020 takes credit for having brought the PwC Report itself into the public domain four weeks ago, so as to do so sufficiently in advance of this debate for the public, and Deputies, to have time to compare the actual terms of that Report with the presentation made to the States in December.  It was then that P&R’s intention to rule out further investigation of the business case for a longer runway was announced, but whilst still keeping secret the PwC Report and preventing the soundness of their reasons from being assessed by outsiders: see 2020 Association demands to see PwC reports on transport links and Air links P&R Statement – Fact check.

There is no room in a briefing note to rehearse the various arguments with regard to this issue,  good, bad or dubious, but 2020 will conduct a survey of members to ascertain their views. P&R’s arguments can be found in the Policy Letter contained in the Billet for this Meeting on the States Website at https://www.gov.gg/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=118448&p=0

As a point of passing interest, Jersey has a runway of 1690m.

With regard to sea links, P&R’s recommendation is simply to allow for another £400,000 to be spent on investigating two of the four “contingency options” identified as possible future courses of action, having regard to stated concerns about the present services, and the possible sale of Condor Ltd, and the fact that Condor’s service agreement terminates in 2024, but with a prior three year period for discussing its continuation or wind down and exit. The preferred options are those of (a) investigating the willingness of other ferry operators to take over the service, and (b) the States of Guernsey itself acquiring its own fleet and providing the service.  The options of the States of Guernsey seeking to acquire Condor Limited, either alone or jointly with the States of Jersey, are not recommended.

The only other matter of States Business of immediate general interest is the Report and proposals regarding the implementation of Island Wide Voting for the 2020 election. These go, in general, to the practical considerations of managing this system. The Report reviews, in chronological terms, the various aspects and implications of an island wide election, such as compiling the electoral roll, the eligibility of candidates, expenditure (both that likely to be incurred by the states and also that to be permitted to candidates), permissible donations, and the practical arrangements for polling day itself and the subsequent installation of Deputies. Nothing of particular moment arises, but this item is a timely reminder to Members that the objectives of the 2020 Association are to gather a sufficient group of candidates for Deputyship, of common sense, ability and like-minded views on core policy issues, so as to enable Association members’ views to carry weight in the next States Assembly.  Members are all asked to help in this direction, both by recruiting more members to our cause, and by identifying suitable candidates.

To be noted in passing is a proposal to modernise the Statutes of Elizabeth College, both to increase the number of Directors on its Board and to detach the governance of the College from close connections with the church through the Dean of Guernsey, and also from the involvement of the States itself, by removing the requirement for Deputies to be Directors of the College. This is in the light of the phasing out of Special Place Holders at the College, and the current trend towards the strict separation of private and public educational opportunities – which some will no doubt find very sad.

The remainder of States Business for this Meeting is either esoteric or mundane.    In the former category there is the final text of a lengthy Ordinance, previously authorised by the States, to apply the Nairobi International Convention for the Removal of Wrecks to Guernsey. [Shipwrecks of course – Ed].    In the latter category come the legislative instruments laid before the Assembly simply for approval.  These cover regulations on such topics as fees for foreign aircraft and for liquor licensing, and the destruction of electoral ballot papers, and they require no further comment.

We are having our first public meeting at Les Cotils on the 2nd May 2019 at 7pm where we will discuss much of the above. It’s free. Please click on the link to confirm your attendance. Bring friends and family.

Membership of The 2020 Association is free – we’re not trying to get your money but your support! Please join.

Information regarding future States Business can be found on www.gov.gg under “Search States Meetings Information.”