On this page I list some of the achievements and my key votes from the 2012-16 political term, and I address the matter of the Town Quay traffic trial.
Saving money for the taxpayer
As Environment Minister, my department was the only one to both meet and exceed its savings target, saving hundreds of thousands of pounds each year for the taxpayer.
Funding for victims of Domestic Abuse
In 2016, my amendment to fund vital additional aspects of the Domestic Abuse Strategy, including specific help for children who witness domestic violence at home, was approved at no extra cost to the taxpayer by reorganising departmental budgets.
A Biodiversity Strategy for Guernsey
In 2015, I presented the Biodiversity Strategy for Guernsey to the States for approval. This allowed a co-ordination of volunteer resources on the island which reaps benefits well in excess of the cost of the strategy. I also worked with others to secure internationally-recognised RAMSAR status for Herm, Jethou and the Humps.
I also presented a report to the States with measures to assist people and businesses in improving energy efficiency. Although this was approved, little progress has been made subsequently and I believe this is something that it is important to proceed with in the next term.
I was one of ten States members who were asked to approve the decision of the External Transport Group to extend an arrangement with Condor, in order to give them confidence to invest in the Liberation. I was the only person to vote against this. I felt strongly that such a large vessel would affect the service on offer to islanders and visitors alike. It was inevitable that a bigger vessel would sail less frequently and that loading and disembarkation would take longer. At the time it also meant the loss of Weymouth as a destination and raised questions of sufficient back-up if the vessel suffered technical problems.
Voting against GST
I voted against introducing GST. The proposal to introduce it was based not on the need to raise additional revenue but to move away from relying heavily on income tax for the States’ income. Whilst I agree that it is necessary to make States revenue more sustainable, there are other ways that need to be investigated first as GST risks putting too heavy a burden on those least able to afford it.
The Environment Department, of which I was minister and therefore responsible, undertook a traffic trial along the short section of road known as The Quay. As there was only one lane running north, and that lane handled exactly the same amount of traffic as that running south with no problems, there was scope to reduce the southbound two lanes to one. This would allow for a much safer pedestrian crossing and for space to be reclaimed on the landward side for the cafés and restaurants to spill out onto a much extended pavement in a continental al fresco style. We went about it in the wrong way. There wasn’t sufficient consultation, the trial wasn’t implemented well and we failed to communicate what were trying to do. The trial was halted and the lines painted out and repainted in the original positions. The total cost of all the works was £20k – around 30p for each islander but taxpayer’s money nevertheless. Some of that money was used for improvements to the crossing and better disability access which remains. Contrary to various rumours that perpetuate, none of the work of cruise liner reorganisation, or planters, or traffic modifications by the bus terminus was the responsibility of my department. Equally rumours of wildly inflated sums are plain wrong. I learnt a great deal from that experience and I use that knowledge to go forward. I’m always prepared to own my own mistakes.
During the term I intervened at Policy Council and laid a successful amendment to bring maternity and parental leave and pay legislation into being.
Filters and traffic lights
On smaller matters, I argued strongly and successfully against the proposal to make the temporary traffic lights at the Airport permanent and I pressed for the reintroduction of the filter there. I also instigated a change in the States policy on filters which then permitted the installation of a filter just past the Forest school after many years of requests from people in the area.
The States Bond
I also voted against the £330m States Bond. I was uncomfortable with the arguments surrounding this borrowing and the uses identified for it. by the end of the term, less than half the money had been utilised; the remainder is being invested by the States. While this strategy has been successful financially, it raises questions of whether the role of Government should be to act as an investor in this way. It is not without risk.
In my original 2012 manifesto I said I favoured paid parking and that the island needed an integrated traffic strategy. I was voted into office on the strength of that manifesto. I brought both of these things to the States and they were approved. They were subsequently modified or overturned by one vote after public objection from the campaign group Enough is Enough, a petition and representations from the motor trade. If you elect me this term, I do not intend to pursue this again or to seek a seat on E&I, the Committee responsible for traffic matters. Rather I wish to seek a seat on Home Affairs or Scrutiny. However, the broad aims of the Transport Strategy which was approved in 2014 remain ones that I believe most people would support: less congestion at peak and school times; making it easier for children and adults to walk and cycle by provision of better infrastructure and safer routes; more options for those who have difficulty in getting about for whatever reason and a reliable bus service that provides for local needs and enhances Guernsey’s offering to tourists.
I voted against the closure of St Andrews School.
Open Planning Meetings
I was involved in the further development of the Open Planning Meetings. It’s really important that major planning applications are decided in an open and transparent forum where members of the public can directly address the meeting with their views and observe the proceedings. This seems to have fallen back in the last 4 years but if elected I intend to ensure that the public can always observe the decisions which are of significant public interest and affect them.
I laid a successful amendment to fund a smoking cessation programme in schools for young teens paid for by tobacco duty.
Belle Grève Bay from the Halfway, looking towards St Peter Port. Every so often, proposals come forward to develop the bay – an idea I don’t agree with.