Motor tax

At its States Meeting to be held this week, the States are to consider a proposal to proceed with investigation of a ‘distance charging mechanism’ for motor vehicles on Guernsey’s roads.

In our survey, which concluded on Monday, 2020 members voted overwhelmingly (41%) to develop a holistic approach to energy, transport and revenue (which was the suggestion of the 2020 Association) whereas only 13% wanted the P&R preferred choice to investigate a distance charging mechanism. Results were as follows:

After consideration of the policy letter entitled ‘Taxation of Motoring’ dated 23rd May, 2019 States Members are asked to decide: “To agree, in principle, that a distance charging mechanism should be introduced as soon as possible and direct the Policy & Resources Committee to report back to the States with detailed proposals to introduce a distance charging mechanism.” Our members say ‘NO’, overwhelmingly.

https://gov.gg/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=119371&p=0

Briefing Note 7

Given the foregoing, the obvious immediate & logical solution appears to be to retain the existing fuel duty arrangements (26% of votes), and probably adjust this to retain revenue level (21% votes).

 

Briefing Note 7

The briefing note below is the latest in our series summarising prospective business at States Meetings, to enable 2020 Association Members to be informed. 

(We did not present a briefing note on the recent interpolated States Meeting of 25th June. The business of this Meeting was to present and discuss (and accept) the annual report on the Policy and Resources plan and (newly and with commendable transparency) the States Annual Accounts, which had already been signed off. Owing to the shortness of time after the meeting of 12th June, and the complexity of the agenda for this Meeting as it developed, with over 20 amendments being proposed for discussion, we were unable, regrettably, to provide a meaningful briefing in the time available. Members will hopefully have been able to follow the account of the debates in the Guernsey Press.) Of note was the Inder/Soulsby amendment requiring regular progress reports of the Future Digital Services project for which the States gave the go-ahead, at an estimated £200M worth of expenditure over 10 years, at its Meeting of 12th June. Members will recall that we had grave concerns over the lack of detail in the Policy document laid before the States on the 12th June, and this amendment should to some extent address these concerns.

Future States Business brief (7) – Meeting of 17 July 2019

The business for this meeting returns to the usual general format. The routine matters which are effectively to be ratified unless some objection is raised include measures relating to the introduction of a Highway Code and particular forms of traffic signs in Guernsey, relaxation of the Misuse of Drugs legislation to permit the controlled use of medicinal cannabis, some (very dry) adjustments to Data Protection regulations and the laying down certain forms and procedures with regard to mental health treatments. There is also a proposed law being laid before the States in order to enable the seamless transfer of employment of IT personnel from the States to the new entity which is now going to take forward the all-embracing Future Digital Services project.

There are three noteworthy items for debate. The first concerns “taxation of motoring” and is a proposal to change the present system of a motor fuel excise duty (petrol and diesel) to one of taxing based on mileage. This is apparently driven by concerns about falling revenue, owing to fossil fuel consumption falling. The proposal is to investigate potential systems and bring forward proposals for changing fuel duty to a mileage tax. The grounds are that continuing to raise the (necessary) revenue – some £20M annually – through increasing fuel duty is unfair on those who cannot afford to change their vehicles to electric ones, but that it is still assumed that a flat rate annual tax on vehicle ownership is objectionable, on the grounds that “road tax” should be paid by actual users. A tax on mileage is seen as the most “fair” way forward. The 2020 Association is of the view that the proposition is too narrow and needs to be part of a holistic approach to energy, transport and revenue thereon, and in the interim the current fuel duty rate could simply be increased to retain current revenue.

The supporting materials contain interesting comparisons on the costs of motoring in the UK itself, and in the various Crown Dependencies. Looking at the wider picture, though, the proposals illustrate the common taxation dilemma of the conflict between trying to raise revenue by taxing an activity which people wish to enjoy, but at the same time wanting to minimise the harmful effects of their doing so (compare alcohol and tobacco taxes). Guernsey needs tax revenues, but at the same time it surely wants to discourage, not only the use of fossil fuels, because of pollution and greenhouse gas effects, but reduce the very use of private cars generally, because of traffic congestion and health effects. These proposals seem to be aimed only at trying to tweak the system to produce a supposedly “fairer” way of retaining current revenue in the relatively short term. Given the sensitivities of motoring as a political subject, the debate on this topic should be interesting.

The second notable item is a general review of intentions with regard to International Development Aid. The proposal advanced is to fix a target of 0.2% of Guernsey’s GDP to be given out in overseas aid by 2030, but in the meantime also whilst spending is below that target, to allocate a proportion of any budget surpluses achieved, in addition to budgeted overseas aid in that year. 

Overseas aid is, again, a sensitive subject on which opinions vary greatly. No-one can decry or denigrate charitable giving, but there are good reasons for keeping governmental charitable giving well restrained. First, there is a huge private charitable ethos in Guernsey already. This is to be encouraged, for its fostering of good works and communal spirit, but the important thing is that it is voluntary. Quite apart from people reasonably wishing to be in control of where they give away their own money, rather than having its direction foist upon them, if the States starts making greater aid donations out of taxation, this is all too likely to lead individuals to reduce their own charitable involvement. Next, the adage that “charity begins at home” is a forceful one. The States is elected to improve the well-being of the people of Guernsey, not the people of other lands, and there are many deserving causes for States’ bounty to be found in Guernsey itself. Third, the States are, in effect, trustees of taxpayers’ money, and the justification for handing out trust money other than to the beneficiaries of the trust can only ever be that there is some demonstrable and actual indirect benefit to the beneficiaries from doing so. Where the only suggested such benefit is enhancing the “reputation” of Guernsey, this owes more to rhetoric than to any evidence of tangible effects. Fourth, but particularly important, there is the further very forceful adage that it should be “trade not aid”. 

The proposed target is, in fact, the lowest of the suggested possible targets as a percentage of GDP (up to 0.7%) put forward in a previous States resolution of November 2018, but there is the question whether even this lowest of percentages is really appropriate for the finances of such a small economy as Guernsey. It is interesting that 0.7% of GDP is £21.35m, which is oddly about the same amount of fuel duty that the first proposal above is trying to replace. (Figure based on the latest available GDP of £3.05bn in 2017). We, of course, have no responsibility to “lead by example” in this international field, and it must be highly questionable whether Guernsey’s population gains anything by doing so, even if it may satisfy the personal consciences of some Deputies. It smacks of ‘virtue signalling’ with other people’s money. Once again, the debate on this topic will be interesting.

The third matter of major interest is a Requete which has been raised in relation to the Island Development Plan, to enable policy adjustments to be made before the end of its present term of application. In particular, this wishes to stress the importance of considering the combined impact of multiple small development schemes, preferring brownfield sites over greenfield sites, promoting the development of the Bridge area, and making it easier for third parties to object to planning decisions which affect them. After the well-publicised recent outcry against certain planning decisions, and the approach and procedures applied, this is not at all surprising, and is probably to be welcomed.

Other matters to be dealt with include elections to the Guernsey Competition and Regulatory Authority, to the Monitoring Board of the Prison and to fill vacancies on the Committee for Home Affairs. The annual report on Guernsey Prison is also presented to the States for consideration.

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

VIEWS OF A STATES MEMBER

POPULATION

Guernsey has had a concern about population and there has been legislation relating to it since the 1940’s. There were Housing Control laws post war and from the 1940’s which over the years suffered various manifestations and alterations until housing laws were no longer felt to be Human Right compliant so were replaced by the Population Management (Guernsey) Law 2016.

Guernsey’s population has undoubtedly increased since the year of my birth (1951). It was then in the early 40,000’s or thereabouts. By 1976 it had increased to 53,637. There was then a fall of 324 over the next five years, but it then steadily continued with its upward incline until the end of 2012, when the population was recorded as being 63,085. It is now somewhere in the order of 62,500 or thereabouts. It has not shown any significant increase thus in the order of ten years or possibly more.

It is true that we are more densely populated than Jersey. Although Jersey has probably an extra 44,000 people living on its Island than we have living on ours, it is nearly twice the landmass. That said, in my view the Population Law, as I will call it for ease of convenience, is a law that is too complicated and in some ways is past its time.

It is not just in Guernsey as it applies in lots of other jurisdictions, but there is a common problem: statutes which are enacted to solve a social issue, in this case to control population, are often outdated and the horse has bolted by the time the law actually comes into force. In my opinion that is exactly the position and situation that we are in in relation to the Population Law.

I have no doubt that the Population Law should be revoked or varied or suspended. There are precedents for laws being suspended when they are out of date. There was a law that was enacted in the mid part of the 1970s which sought to control people speculating in land. By this century it had served its purpose and the law was suspended. In theory it can be brought back into operation, albeit in practice in that case that is unlikely.

My conclusion would probably be that there should either be a replacement Statute or a radically revised Statute. This note, for the sake of brevity, deals with two of the provisions of the Population Law. They are though, probably, the two main provisions.

The first is how you become a permanent or established resident. There is a very complicated set of requirements which begin at Section 3 of the Law which sets out who are permanent residents. Some of the provisions are Stone Age in their creation.

One that particularly appals me, but there are others that concern me, is the provision under Section 3(A). This relates to somebody who was born in Guernsey on or after the commencement of the Law, and one of whose birthparents (note the words birthparents) was born in Guernsey and that birthparent was ordinarily resident at the time of the child’s birth, and that birthparent had one of his or her parents born in Guernsey. That person then from the moment of their birth, and however short their residence in the Island, becomes a permanent resident. They can come back to the Island at any time and live. Others have much stricter requirements applied to them.

The idiocy of that provision is apparent in my own family. Although in practical terms it has made no difference, only one of my four children would so qualify under that provision. His three siblings were all born in England and came here as young children. That in itself, and I cannot be the only person in that position, makes that part of the Law an absolute nonsense. I appreciate, of course, I can only trace my side of the family’s residence in Guernsey back to the early 1600’s. In fact my lot have been here much longer but they were humble folk who were probably not literate so their births were not registered.

I would get rid of the distinction between permanent residents and established residents. I would still keep the definition, or a definition of an Open Market residence. What I would say is that anybody who has lawfully lived in Guernsey, whether as a minor or as an adult for eight years, becomes a permanent resident once they have spent the specified amount of time in Guernsey, and that would include them going off to university or school. I would give credit for time in the Services. I would also have one or two other provisions (without making the requirement too difficult and the law too complicated) which would enable people to clock up their eight years in say ten or twelve or fifteen years. I would keep it simple. Laws that are kept simple are the best laws.

That would also enable an Open Market resident who had lived here lawfully after that period of time to become Local. If somebody lives in this Island and is ordinarily resident here for that period of time, then in my opinion they have put their roots down and they deserve to be treated equally with other citizens. I say that as somebody whose family has been here for hundreds and hundreds of years. We are all people and we all, once we have put our roots down here, deserve to be treated with equal respect.

Such a provision would keep alive the need for and the economic viability of the Open Market. It would though say to decent Open Market citizens “We welcome you and after a certain period of time you can become a permanent resident in this Island which is truly your home”.

Somebody may ask why eight years? It is an arbitrary choice of period but my understanding was, and I agree with it, that the fifteen year period that used to be specified in the Housing Laws as a period whereby you would qualify after being an Essential Licence Holder, was deemed to be too long by European Court precedents, and eight years was thought to be sustainable. In any event I think eight years is about appropriate. Five or six years is too short and ten years is too long. It is a matter of choice and when you pick any period of time for anything there is a degree of putting your finger in the air and hoping it is right. In my view, once a person has lived here for that period of time they are as Guernsey as me.

The second part of the Law that I would alter is what I call the Licensing system. The Law provides for people to apply for Employment Permits. I should add that from what I know the staff that deal with it on behalf of the relevant body of the States of Guernsey are competent, fair and sensible. This is no criticism of them. Nevertheless this is still a bureaucratic procedure. Under Section 20 of the Population Law there are four types of employment permits, namely a long-term employment permit, a medium term employment permit, a short term employment permit and an Open Market employment permit. I would just have one employment permit. Call it whatever you will. Again, subject to deeper thought about drafting and some transitional provisions, there should just be one kind of permit.

People would have to apply for a permit if they were not permanent residents or spouses or partners or children of permanent residents. That would allow a check to make sure that they were decent people and did not have a litany of convictions and/or otherwise were unsuitable. There would have to be provisions in the permit that if they behaved badly during the term of the permit that the permit could be revoked.

That permit should be granted for everybody for eight years. That is whether they are a waiter or a bank manager or a doctor or even a lawyer (of which there are now far too many). Once that person has successfully completed their eight years of ordinary residence then they would become a permanent resident and free from such permits.

At the moment we have full employment. In fact we have had full employment for a very long time. We have a very high GDP. The economy though probably in real terms is not growing. There is not a queue of people wanting to come and work in Guernsey like there used to be. It is difficult for certain businesses, particularly in the hospitality/tourist sector, to attract people. That is not so much to do with the population but because of the shortage of skills and people available to do that work elsewhere, the lack of local people wanting to work in those sectors and the strength of the economy in other jurisdictions which used to supply that labour. Thus we do not need another bureaucratic hurdle. Whether we like it or not Guernsey is considered to be unwelcoming to potential incomers. We need to, therefore, disabuse people of that conception.

Thus we have a law, in my view, which is outdated, which is too cumbersome and which does not meet the needs of a 21st Century developed economy like Guernsey.

My proposals would enable us to be more flexible. If in the future there was a problem then we could bring in a law. We should be bringing in laws more quickly anyway to meet various problems that we have or requirements that we might want to achieve than our current process. That though should be the subject of another note.

The above is not meant to be a legal treatise. It is just meant to express my views as a Guernsey person who has lived here for the majority of his life and with the wellbeing of Guernsey very much in mind. It is meant to be practical. If these or like proposals were adopted I sincerely do not believe they would bring the walls of Jericho tumbling down or encourage vast swathes of unsuitable people to come and live in our lovely Island.

Deputy Peter Ferbrache

Principles and Objectives

The 2020 Association has formulated general principles and objectives which it intends to expand into a core manifesto to be presented before the 2020 Election.  We will lend our support to candidates for the States who subscribe to our approach and aims.

We aim to:

  • Bring into the States a cohesive group of politicians, who are both of demonstrated capability, and willing to act sensibly but decisively and to avoid procrastination and habitual recourse to expensive consultants, drawing on on-island expertise wherever practicable.
  • Invest in the infrastructure of the island to support economic growth, and establish a framework of reliable and reasonably affordable transport links to meet the needs and wishes of islanders, of business and of tourism.
  • Encourage and support the finance industry, especially world-beating green finance, and encourage new businesses, with a culture of positivity towards initiatives.
  • Promote “small” government, by reducing red tape, and regulation, and promoting “joined up thinking” across the States and the Civil Service.
  • Acknowledge the value of Open Market residents and use their skills; cautiously  relax, and if necessary suspend, over-rigid Population Management rules.
  • Cut waste and pollution, in particular by reducing non-degradable plastics.
  • Promote greater use of public transport, reduce transport dependency on hydrocarbons, and move firmly towards environmentally sustainable energy sources.
  • Strive to ensure a decent and uniformly available standard of primary and secondary health care, and a basic sufficient standard of living, for all.
  • Pursue the alleviation of real in-work poverty, and recognise the priority that should be given to the well-being of our poorer islanders.
  • Review the conduct of States Assembly business, promoting focus and efficiency by limiting speeches and timing meetings so as to enable participation, as Deputies, by persons in full time employment.
  • Respect broad public opinion, considering pressure from single issue groups with caution and objectivity.
  • Introduce a Freedom of Information Law.
  • Restore more local functions to the Douzaines, including enabling their input as to decisions on planning control, whilst enhancing their accountability.
  • Support the Colleges in providing further and adult education, and monitor the secondary education system to ensure that it best provides the skills, academic and technical training to equip all our young people for success in adult life.  
  • Ensure that tax is imposed fairly and reasonably as regards all strata of society, and that Guernsey retains its attractive and enterprise-encouraging character as a low tax regime, with no introduction of stealth taxes.

Briefing note 6

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. It is regretted that this States Meeting has come closer on the heels of the previous one, such that it has not been possible to send out this note in time for member comments, but it will nonetheless at least keep members informed, in particular about the matter which seems to us to be the most concerning.

Future States Business brief (6) – Meeting of 12 June 2019

Apart from routine matters such as elections of members to committee places, and the usual array of statutory instruments on such routine matters such as animal and plant health measures and formalities for import duties, there are only three items of substantive business which really merit note or comment. (We therefore mention only in passing measures to coordinate the timing of meetings of certain States Committees with budget dates, and to make minor amendments to anti-money-laundering legislation as a result of practical experience. )

The three items which deserve actual note are, first, the approval of a measure to formalise the constitutional position that Westminster cannot impose legislation into Guernsey’s domestic law without the specific approval of the States of Deliberation. This is obviously to be welcomed in the light of the well-known hostility to the Island on the part of certain grandstanding politicians in the UK.

The second such item is approval being sought to bring forward legislation to re-organise the provision of health care funding in Guernsey by bringing all aspects of this (including associated aspects such as medical benefits, medical travel funding, and suchlike) under the umbrella of the Committee for Health and Social Care,rather than with the current split between that Committee and the Committee for Employment and Social Security. This is an obviously sensible measure of efficient rationalisation, but apparently (if unsurprisingly) requires a good deal of legislation to provide for the mechanics of budgeting and of setting up and controlling the appropriate funds, including the destination of existing funds. It is not expected to make any very obvious difference to islanders in everyday practice. It is to be noted, though, that, within this legislation, the way appears to be being paved for the relaxation of, or the introduction of flexibility into, the present rules specifically limiting what medicines or drugs will be provided at States expense, and also that the proposals include the giving of authority to press ahead with a complete review and overhaul of the present system for levying social security contributions, in pursuance of a resolution passed at the time of the Personal Tax Pensions and Benefits Review of 2015. So watch this space.

This brings us to the third item, which is that of the most concern on this States Meeting Agenda which is the Policy and Resources Future Digital Services document, which can be found here. In essence it asks the States to decide:

 

  • To enter into a ten-year contract with Agilisys Guernsey Limited following P&R’s approval of the Full Business Case.
  • To transfer States staff to this new entity of which the States would have a ‘golden shareholding’, thereby providing the States with a degree of control
  • To approve or acknowledge various funding amounts of: £1.4m, £2.0m, £26.9m, £16.7m in the short term, with total costs over 10 year span of £200m+.

After careful analysis of the 63 page policy document we believe that the The Future Digital Services policy, in its current form, is too vague on the transformation it is seeking to achieve.

For the States to enter into a partnership with Agilysis for the purpose of achieving vague, aspirational goals has all the appearance of a commercial disaster waiting to happen. We feel that it is premature, highly risky and almost certainly doomed to failure. It is disturbing that the States are seeking to have their hands held without specifying accurately what they want or where they will be led.

Whilst a detailed analysis is beyond the scope of this briefing note, we suggest that further work to identify the need and a specific plan to address the States’ requirements is needed before entering into a 10 year contract, especially where £200m of tax payer’s money is at stake.

For example, there appear to be no specifications for each major area/project (for example: Revenue Services, HSSD, Education, Planning, Cadastre and general document storage inter alia) and there is no clear indication of how such new projects (if they are indeed created) will interoperate, what platforms they will use, and little detail of how they will be provided (except that they may be ‘cloud based’). Indeed we would expect such areas to have been the subject of detailed analysis before seeking any tender bids or entering into any partnership.

One might well ask how it is possible to make the jump from deciding to enter into this partnership and drafting contracts to ensure adequate performance? Where are the fully formed terms of reference? How will it be enforced? What happens if it goes wrong?

Some parts of the document appear to seek to have a ‘feel good’ factor instead of substance, and appear to be deviating into joint venture areas instead of concentrating on core States IT systems.

IT projects are infamous for going over budget and failing to deliver the benefits promised. This is in no small part due to their complexity and the lack of specific IT knowledge in decision makers. Consequently, we believe the appropriate response is a detailed scoping and planning exercise by experts that can help reduce the risk before committing to such a vast project. We welcome the work done thus far but feel there is still a further stage of planning before awarding such a large contract.

The perils of vague IT projects: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/sep/18/nhs-records-system-10bn

This article highlights the financial risks of lofty & vague IT projects. The Institute for Government also offers some sound advice on how best to approach them: https://amp.theguardian.com/technology/2014/aug/19/costly-trail-british-government-it-disasters-universal-credit
 

Tom Gash, the Director of Research at the Institute for Government: “There are some patterns here we’ve seen in a lot of other failed projects,” he says. “The one that stands out is doing a ‘big bang’, announcing it all at once.”

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

Airport Runway (Part B) information response from P&R

On the 2nd May 2019, we demanded to see PwC Part B Tender docs under the States of Guernsey Code of Practice for Access to Public Information (2014).

We asked because the figure of up to £700,000 was given in P&R’s policy letter relating to the review of strategic air and sea links infrastructure.. but by the States meeting of 26 April it had become of £700,000.

We wanted to know how many tender submissions there were, what the scope of the the tenders was and what was their breakdown.

On the 24th May 2019, P&R declined to provide any further details on the airlinks tender.

This response is exactly why a proportionate freedom of information law is a necessity.

P&R must conduct business in a transparent and accountable manner.

Briefing note 5

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 (5) – Meeting of 22 May 2019

As usual, there is routine business as well as some more interesting topics. The routine business comprises, first, certain elections, namely (i) the President of the States Development and Planning Authority (to replace Deputy Gollop following his recent resignation), (ii) certain Governors of the Ladies College and (iii) the re-election of the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Panel for the Administrative Decisions (Review) Board, Deputy Green and Mr Richard Heaume) for a further term.

 

(A list of complaints received by this Panel since 2015 and their outcomes is appended to the Billet for the 22 May meeting. Very few appear to go anywhere, mostly dividing between those which were declined on the grounds that the complainant had a legal remedy which ought to be pursued, and those which were not pursued after unspecified “discussions” with the relevant authority or committee.)

 

Second, there is a total of 23 Ordinances, Regulations and Orders laid before the Assembly effectively for confirmation. Most of these are contingency preparations for Brexit. They therefore range through a hugely diverse set of matters. at one extreme regarding the implementation of international trade agreements, the regulation of customs and tariffs, of company acquisitions of animal health and of medicines, and at the other extreme, down to the registration of trailers, the importation of bees, exemptions to seat belt requirements, and paving the way for a code of regulation for the crewing of small merchant vessels.

 

There is one proposed piece of primary legislation for which States approval is sought, being a very short measure to allow an individual to receive a carer’s allowance under the Severe Disability and Carer’s Allowance (Guernsey) Law 1984 at the same time as receiving any benefit under the Social Insurance (Guernsey) Law, 1978.

 

The more interesting topics appear under the “Other Business” before the States.

 

The first is probably not controversial in all the circumstances. It is approval being requested to proposed amendments to the Public Servants’ Pension Scheme Rules 2016. The background is that general and universal changes to the terms of public service pensions were proposed in 2015, to make the expense of these pensions more sustainable, as people lived longer. The proposals were accepted by a majority of the Association of States Employees Organisations, and the Policy Council approved this as being therefore representative of approval generally, and the new scheme and its Rules were therefore implemented in 2016. However, certain sections of public servants, represented by the Unite union, did not accept the new scheme and instituted a legal challenge. This dispute went to mediation and was settled, to avoid the expense (and bad feeling) of a trial. The agreement reached at mediation was approved by a majority of those represented by Unite, and therefore became binding. The effect of the agreement, however, is to introduce further options with regard to the new scheme, different from those contained in the 2016 Rules. The effect of the amendments being proposed is therefore to make these further alternatives available generally to all States employees, for fairness.

 

The only further points which need noting are, first, that there is a separate section explaining the application of the new form of the scheme to judicial officers (ie the full time judges and the senior Crown Officers), who are not States Employees, but who participate in the pension scheme. It is explained that the provisions in relation to those office holders are designed to bring the scheme into line with changes to the judicial pension schemes implemented in the UK. The second further point is that the opportunity is also being taken to provide for certain unintended consequences and omissions in the 2016 Rules, such as unintentional discrimination against same sex marriage partners.

 

The precise terms of these pension provisions are are very complex, as one would expect, and a full and accurate review is beyond the scope of this briefing note. An introduction, for those interested further, can be found in the explanatory letter to this item of States Business on the gov.gg website.

 

The next piece of “other business” is a Requete by seven States Members with regard to the policy for disposal of inert waste. This asks the States to alter the present policy to dispose of inert waste (once the present landfill site at Longue Hougue is full) by further land reclamation at that site, and instead to direct the States Trading and Supervisory Board to prefer, and to investigate and pursue, the option to use such inert waste for the purpose of redeveloping St Peter Port Harbour. An illustrative phased proposal suggests the creation, over four years, of a block extension out from the current Eastern Breakwater beyond the QEII Marina, followed by the creation, over a further period of 10-15 years, of a further pier or piers from this, southwards, parallel to the White Rock pier, and the enlargement northwards of the original area of extension. The economic case and possibilities for such a proposal are argued, and its consistency with previous States’ approach to considering an alternative to further land reclamation at Longue Hougue as well as the objective of harbour redevelopment is pressed, whilst stressing that the proposals put forward are illustrative only, the principle behind them being to make economic use of inert waste towards the accepted desirable objective of harbour redevelopment.

 

Once again, it is beyond the scope of this briefing note to set out more detail of the Requete proposals and it is understood that proposed amendments may well be laid, although this Association has no knowledge of what these might be. Whilst there is obvious sense behind such a proposal – far better to make good economic use of inert waste for something rather than simply looking for where it can be dumped – the concern must surely be that this is too narrow a proposal to be pursued alone. The sensitive and economically effective redevelopment of St Peter Port harbour requires a broad visionary scheme on a much wider general basis. Recently Richard Digard referred, in an article in the Guernsey Press, to one such wide scheme proposal, including the generation of tidal power, the accommodation of cruise ships, and associated economic and “green” benefits, which has not been widely publicised despite having potential financial backing, and which has seemingly been either dismissed, or suppressed, by the States. Surely, though, it cannot be sensible to pursue one particular aspect of harbour redevelopment without ensuring that it will at least fit with, and not interfere with or limit, any wider and more all-inclusive harbour redevelopment strategy which it may be desirable to pursue?

 

That really concludes the States Business agenda. The only further point to note is the appending to this agenda of the Annual Report for 2018 of the States Scrutiny Management Committee. This Committee operates as both a panel scrutinising key areas of government policies and spending, and also considering law reform. Its report makes interesting reading, and the overall impression is that the committee has been doing a good and energetic job at holding States departments to account, sometimes in the face of indignant objection.

 

A tone of some frustration can be detected in the report. The Committee points out that its scrutiny function is, inevitably, retrospective, and that it is for the Deputies and others who sit on Committees and Authorities to carry out oversight functions on a current basis as business is conducted. Perhaps, though, the most interesting sign of frustration is revealed by the following quotation.

 

    “The Scrutiny Management Committee believes through its experience gained to date that the new system of government is failing to allow sufficient scrutiny of financial matters. It is our collective opinion that the States of Guernsey must provide greater financial transparency and we continue to monitor developments closely. We believe additional access to information and the ability to influence policy, as enjoyed by other jurisdictions, would significantly improve the current position.”

 

A review of the activities of the Committee suggests that it takes its mandate seriously and its efforts are to be applauded.

 

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

 

Airport Runway (Part B) Tender information request

2020 Association demands to see PwC Part B Tender docs.

The 2020 Association has made a request under the States of Guernsey Code of Practice for Access to Public Information (2014) for information for tender documents and information relating to Part B (business case) of the PwC island’s air and sea transport links report, with a view to general disclosure to the public.


James Collings, the Chairman of the Association, said “Following our successful request to have the PwC Report into Air Links Infrastructure Report released, The 2020 Association now requests further information relating to the tendering and costing of Part B of this Report, which the States voted not to pay for on the 26/04/2019. These are documents that can be released to the public in a redacted form at least. They have been paid for from the public purse. The taxpayer has a right to see them, and P&R have an obvious obligation to produce them. The 2020 Association has therefore made a request for production under the States of Guernsey Code of Practice.”

The improvement of transport connectivity, and the implementation of a full Freedom of Information Law are among the foremost stated objectives of the 2020 Association.

A copy of our letter is here.

On the 24th May 2019, P&R declined to provide any further details on the airlinks tender.