My Article in Les Nouvelles de St Martin and the Grouville Gazettes 2023
As you read this article we will have all long since celebrated the Coronation in May. I must say that during the Saturday and day of the Coronation itself, I spent my entire day watching television. The amount of times I have done that in my life can be counted on one hand and on each occasion (except for one – when I was glued to Wimbledon), the Royal family has been the reason. As a huge supporter of the Monarch in
Britain and all the pomp and circumstance that goes with it – “showing the world how its done!” – I find it mesmerising, instilling a sense national pride, something which can sometimes be in short supply in certain aspects of everyday life. I hope you enjoyed the day and indeed the weekend of celebrations as much as I did, followed by our very own Jersey Celebration on Liberation Day.
In the States Assembly recently we had more attempts to remove GST from food and to reinstate Senators. I voted in favour of exempting food as I have never been able to agree to the fundamental principle of taxing life’s essentials like food, neither did I agree to having the most democratically elected seat of the Island-wide mandate got rid in favour of ‘Districts’ and our voting rights reduced from 10 votes to 4 with no material reduction in the number of States Members. I have personally brought both these propositions to the Assembly in the past and the outcomes were similar, very close but alas defeated. We now watch Guernsey go through similar arguments to those we had when introducing GST, and it will be interesting to see if they look to exempt food.
This year the Council of Ministers are holding one meeting a month in the Parishes. We started with St Helier and offered a ‘Ministers Surgery’ immediately after our meeting. The Town Hall was not very busy, but it is always interesting to engage in these forums and hopefully useful to those who came. Next stop is St Brelade as we work our way around the Island.
You don’t of course have to wait for the Ministers Surgeries to speak to me, as you are welcome to attend any of the Parish Surgeries which are also attended by my fellow Deputies and Constables. The times, dates and venues are always listed in this magazine, on my website and hopefully of the Parish websites. Parishioners from both Grouville and St Martin are welcome to any of the Surgeries we hold regardless of which Parish they are in. We aim to hold them on the first Monday of the month at a different locations and at different times to give everybody the opportunity to attend.
At the end of last year I attended one of the Comite des Connetables meetings. There is a long wait to get an appointment, so I had a few items stored up for the agenda.
(i) The first was to ask the Constables and their Roads Committees to suggest a network of suitable Green Lanes in their Parishes. Before Lockdown I gave each Constable an A0 map of roads highlighting the different types of roads and their designations, in the hope it might assist them to plot a network of routes suitable for pedestrians and cyclists, with appropriate speeds to offer safety. These roads could link Parish to Parish and also provide Commuter Routes (not just long-winded scenic routes) to Parish hubs and to St Helier. I am glad to see that our Constable is considering this idea and is proposing some lanes. If you would like to contribute to the proposals, please make your submission to the Parish so the Roads Committee can consider parishioners views before it is taken to a Parish Assembly. I have already discussed this with the new Infrastructure Minister;
(ii) The second item on my agenda was to ask the Constables to provide a ‘Welcome Pack’ to Parishioners new to the Parish or Island. This initiative was one of the recommendations from the Island Identity project which I chair. We suggested a pack of information be given to newcomers, which would explain how the Municipality works, introduce its clubs and associations and offer some useful practical advice. We also wanted to see some information included about the Island – Jersey’s Constitution, our voting rights, the Island’s history, etc. The Constables requested that I supply the core of the document which I have now done, and they would adapt it and add the individual Parish information to it. There is a great deal more information which can be sourced from the Island Identity website – with an animated version of our history told by our wonderful Grouville-born Story-Teller, John-Henry Falle. Check it out at www.islandidentity.je.
(iii) Another item raised was the idea of an Island-wide Refuse collection, rather than looking for a parish-by-parish solution. This is an issue which has been raised to me by Parishioners and I think it is very much worth considering.
(iv) And finally I suggested that establishing a Community Support Group in each Parish would be much appreciated by people feeling isolated or in need of assistance in their daily lives. I know how much the service is valued in Grouville and indeed St Clement where they have a very active and well established service. I offered the Constables my experience and help should they need it in establishing a group in each of their Parishes. Our CSG volunteers meet every quarter, where we discuss how to best promote and support independent living. We are a friendly bunch and always happy to welcome new volunteers. Equally if you are in need of a bit of support or would just like someone to talk to, then please contact the Parish Hall on 852225 and they will put you in contact with one of the CSG Team.
About six months ago, on a very cold, wet, December morning, I met with the Minister for Infrastructure and some Constituents where we walked along the seafront between Le Hurel and Seymour slips. We were there to look at the sea wall, the sea defences and some of the encroachments to the Foreshore and to consider how it can be restored. The proposition I took to the previous States Assembly needs to be implemented and the policy and sentiments acted on. The issue has also got to be balanced with an earlier meeting we had with two other Constituents who had suffered some very heavy handed treatment and ‘fines’ issued by the States for historical encroachments. I continue to pursue this injustice and to have it put right. Fortunately the new Infrastructure Minister is on another page to the last one and I am therefore more hopeful that progress, at last, will be made to find a fair and equitable solution for the public.
As many of you know I have been working with the Deaf Community for sometime. We have been pursuing the need of a person(s) who can support this wonderful community in their lives and after 6 years of isolation, I have to report we have seen some progress – but not enough. In this regard I would like to relay my thanks to Pat Bourgeard, Tony Bellows and Richard France from RAD for all their help and guidance to our Community.
And my final up-date, this time wearing my International Development Ministers hat, is to report that that Jersey Overseas Aid has received national recognition in both The Times and Telegraph newspapers; for training women in bomb disposal in Kosovo as part of our Ukraine response and in another article, recognising how our Jersey Cow projects are increasing milk yields in Africa thereby lifting thousands of people out of poverty. As a small, but outward-facing Island, I believe the people of Jersey can feel justly proud.
If you wish to contact me directly please email: email@example.com or telephone: 852488.