By Deputy Carolyn Labey
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 of and our voting rights reduced from 10 votes to 4 with no material reduction in the number of States Members. They are both propositions I have personally taken before the Assembly in the past and the votes were similar, very close but alas defeated. We now watch Guernsey go through similar arguments to those we had when introducing GST, so it will be interesting to see if it is introduced, if they decide 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 populated with Constituents, but it was interesting 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 can 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 or on my website. Parishioners from either Grouville or St Martin are welcome to any of the Surgeries we hold. 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 designations, in the hope it might assist them to plot a network of routes suitable for pedestrians and cyclists, with appropriate speeds, which could also join Parish to Parish and also provide a 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 new Parishioners. This was one of the recommendations from the Island Identity project which I chair. We suggested a pack of information be given to newcomers, not only about how the Parish works, its clubs, associations and useful practical advice but also information about the Island – our Constitution, our voting rights, the Island’s history. The Constables requested that I supply the core of the document about the Island, 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 on 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) I raised 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) 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 this Parish and indeed St Clement where they have a very well established service. I offered the Constables my experience in setting one up in Grouville and to help other Parishes do likewise. Our CSG volunteers also meet together on a quarterly basis where we discuss how to best promote and support independent living. We are a friendly bunch and always happy to welcome new volunteers, so if you have a bit of spare time and would like to volunteer, then please let me know. If however, you are in need of a bit of support with everyday living, then please contact the Parish Hall on 852225 and they will put you in contact with one of the CSG Team.
Just before Christmas, 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, which I continue to pursue to have 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 am happy to report we are at last seeing some progress. 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.
And my final up-date, this time wearing my International Development Ministers hat, is to report that that Jersey Overseas Aid received has received national recognition in both The Times and Telegraph newspapers; for our bomb disposal training for women 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 want to read the articles please look at my website: www.carolynlabey.je If you wish to contact me directly please email: email@example.com or telephone: 852225