I am a family man with three children and appreciate the traditional nature of Jersey’s politics. Whilst I am a traditionalist I also recognise that change must happen to enable us to meet the challenges of modern life. Seeing a number of experienced States members deciding to stand down and not seek re-election this year, I have become somewhat concerned about the levels of experienced States Members that will be standing in our May elections. However new candidates breathe new life into our local politics. It is important we gain new members from all walks of life on the Island, to create new efficiencies, ensure diverse skill sets and perspectives to create an effective team governing our Island.
I was born in Jersey in 1958. At the age of six, my family moved to Dublin and I spent my education years there. My family returned to Jersey in 1979 and I followed them a year later at the age of 21. I have lived and worked in Jersey since then, mostly in the Finance Industry where I worked as an Accountant and a Business & Project Manager for 29 years. I have run my own business for the last 10 years during which I spent 5 years as a Centenier for our Parish. I am married to Nicky with three children aged, 15, 15 and 13. Before you ask, no, no twins. We adopted two boys in 2012 at the time aged 8 and 9 and, in doing so, were made aware of complicated social issues that we didn’t realise existed on a small prosperous Island such as ours. We are honoured to have provided a loving and supportive family home for our boys who are developing into wonderful young men. Our family home in St Peter was built in 1962 by my Grandfather, George Le Bas, adjoining the farmland that he had worked for many years. The home has stayed in the family since and has been passed down the generations – Grandparents, parents and now our family.
Parish of St Peter
Affordable homes for current and future generations is a key priority within our Parish along with efficient traffic controls at Beaumont. I would work closely with the Constable to ensure that the current affordable home plans are approved and actioned.
Regarding the traffic congestion at Beaumont I would listen to your concerns and issues and gather your thoughts and ideas. The addition of the homes in St Peter’s village, new homes on Mont Fallu and the 65 apartments on Goose Green will exacerbate the existing problem, a practical, sensible and effective approach is needed to solve this challenging issue.
We must continue to put economic prosperity as our main agenda. Jersey is doing well economically but we should never be passive in our thinking. Finance, agriculture and tourism are top priority but never forget we must be an innovative Island and look to entrepreneurial ideas to continue to diversify and reduce our reliance on our main industries. Some innovations will fail but some will prosper – we need to look after them and provide appropriate governance and support to encourage continued success in as many new initiatives as we can in order to diversify our economy. Continually seeking external consultants to help manage our economy is folly and we should put a stop to this. We must use local talent as a first choice. With this in mind I think we will continue to prosper and provide top employment on the Island. Full employment alongside a sustainable welfare system will help tackle the issues creating poverty on the Island. There is no reason whatsoever for families to be left impoverished or hungry on this Island. Creating opportunity and security for all, helping those less fortunate than ourselves gain skills & resources is key to our sustainability.
Economic diversity will help to prevent and, if necessary reverse economic decline and offer new opportunities in employment, skills and the availability of goods and services. I will strive to ensure continued investment in emerging industries and small business start-ups by fully utilising innovation and development funding and support to assist these fledgling enterprises. However, it is imperative that the appropriate governance and controls are put in place to ensure this support and investment realises effective returns.
Jersey is a great tourist destination and we are starting to see improvement in the number of tourists coming to the Island. Visit Jersey is doing a good job but we need to continue encouraging potential tourists both local and international to look to us for long or short breaks. Marketing the Island as a quality short term destination for couple & family breaks is the key to sustainability and improvement in the industry.
Sports and Event led Tourism
We effectively encourage sporting visitors to the Island and long may this continue. The States need to encourage international sporting events as this brings not only additional visitors to our Island but also helps to put Jersey on the map internationally.
The Jersey Finance Industry has contributed so much to our prosperity over the years that it would be disastrous to not encourage its’ continued success on the Island. Most major financial brands are here and they continue to invest in local infrastructure and our future. We must never become complacent, the States must continue to be 100% behind our Finance industry. It is the biggest employer after the States and any threats to its existence would be detrimental to the Island as a whole. I do believe Brexit gives us an opportunity to become a financial intermediary between Europe, UK and the rest of the world and we must strive to recognise any opportunities that arise now and in the future. As long as the Finance Industry exists on this Island we will remain relatively prosperous, never forgetting that our other industries must grow to negate our over reliance on this industry from previous years. I will always endeavour to promote a diverse economy using tourism, agriculture and other new and emerging industries to grow and help our Island prosper.
Business & Entrepreneurial Success
Unnecessary bureaucracy is always detrimental to business and must be reduced. There is a lot of entrepreneurial spirit on the Island and this should be supported. The States need to encourage, assist at every opportunity in order to create efficiency, enable innovation and the creation of our next generation of goods and services. A business that prospers on this Island must pay its way, not just in the number of people it employs but also by paying its fair share of taxes. We have put in place mechanisms to create and ensure a reliable and more efficient public service. This should continue, aiding initiative from existing public service staff to further improve efficiencies and remove bureaucracy.
A growing diverse economy delivers:
- Lower unemployment: Generating higher output leads businesses to employ more workers thus creating more employment.
- Higher incomes: will enable Islanders to enjoy more goods and services and a better standard of living.
- Stronger States finances: Economic growth creates higher tax revenues allowing greater investment in infrastructure.
- Improved public services: With increased tax revenues the States can invest more on health and education and other essential services.
- Investment: Economic growth encourages new investment into the local economy.
Population & Immigration
Economic Growth if properly managed does not lead to excessive population growth. We all know that the population will grow, it’s the way of the world – there are more births than deaths and we are all living longer. We therefore need to plan for sustainable population growth which if carefully and consistently managed, will assist us to develop as an economy and a community for the benefit of all. However, we must pay particular attention to immigration which must be tightly controlled. After Brexit a fair system such as work permits should be put in place to control immigration. At the same time we must try to minimise the departure of our young people from the Island. We should encourage a skills led economy using apprenticeships rather than insist on University Education standards as a minimum. Many employers now seek candidates with a university education where, in the past, staff were trained on the job over a period of years, gaining the appropriate qualifications (via night school or day release) supported by their employer. We must encourage more degree and correspondent courses at our higher education establishments so that we can reduce the requirement to attend university in the UK and elsewhere. Our young people are our future and we must assist them in attaining their aspirations without burdening them with enormous student debt. We want them to remain on the Island and contribute to our economy so we must encourage this by whatever means at our disposal.
Health & Social Care
Our health service must be innovative and forward thinking if we are to continue to improve upon the levels of healthcare we enjoy at present. People are surviving longer and there are going to be increased pressures on our health services that go along with this longevity in people’s lives. We need a new hospital, nobody will disagree, but we need to get moving with the project and get it built. Every month’s delay means additional cost for the project (£22 million estimate over 12 months) so we should accept the States decision, which has been voted on several times, and move forward quickly to get the job done. There is consistent pressure on health budgets and it appears that staff are the ones that get left behind. This must stop and the staff that we have, must be looked after so that they can continue to live in our glorious Island which comes with a high cost of living. To not pay fairly represents a danger to the services themselves. Imagine not being able to provide an adequate health service because we couldn’t get enough nurses, doctors, ancillary staff or potentially having to close facilities for this reason. I don’t think any person on the Island wants to see that so why risk it? Our health workers should be paid fairly and equitably so that we retain and attract new staff.
We need to demonstrate effective forward thinking on the services required to support our aging population. Withdrawing support for Family Nursing was a step in the wrong direction. We will experience ever increasing demand on our Nursing Home requirements which just do not exist in a form capable of sustaining current population levels. We must quickly take steps to ensure we provide a holistic solution of combined services and assistance to enable our senior citizens to reside independently in their own homes for as long as possible.
Education is key to success and is a primary requirement that is necessary for the continued prosperity of our society. We need to support our children to develop life skills and diverse qualifications. There should be equal opportunity for all and we must also support our children with special needs. Our son has special needs, from his initial work with Children’s’ Services and the support of his school, he has excelled and is now in mainstream schooling continually developing additional coping strategies to grow in confidence and succeed. Education is also a key method by which members of our next generation learn the skills and values to take them into adulthood and become valuable members of society. We need to ensure that our system obtains the necessary levels of funding to allow first class education services to all children in our society and we should encourage, by whatever means possible, to support teachers being trained locally. Our teachers must not feel neglected and must be paid fairly and equitably so that we can attract and retain staff.
On the subject of resources, no more delay is acceptable in the building of the new replacement school of Les Quennevais in St Brelade/St Peter. I have two boys currently at Les Quennevais School. Originally both were due to attend the new school, now only one of them (currently 13) will have any potential of attending the new school presupposing that there are no further delays. It has long been recognised that Les Quennevais School is no longer fit for purpose, the building was originally intended for circa 400 pupils and is now supporting circa 700 pupils. The ongoing interruptions in getting the school built is costing the States millions in delays and inflationary pressures on known costs. This is nonsensical as those millions could have been put to good use elsewhere.
Law and Order
I am proud to have served as Centenier for the Parish for the last 5 years. In doing so I got to know many locals. Centeniers in St Peter are particularly busy as Prosecutors in Court (more so that many other Parishes) as they have to deal with a good proportion of the drugs being imported into the Island through the airport (both postal and physical importation). As such, we see the lengths that some will go to traffic drugs and all praise must go to our Police, Border and Customs forces who do a great job with ever decreasing resources. Thankfully crime is relatively low on our Island and this is in the main due to the effectiveness of our Police force and the assistance they receive from our Honorary Police. Many Island events would not be possible without the Honorary Police to assist. The States Police are coping but budgets are being stretched so something has to change. We want our way of life to continue without our children’s welfare being endangered by any lack of protection we have enjoyed previously. I believe it is time for the States Police and the Honorary Police to work more closely together. The Honorary Policy like all others must move into the 21st century and accept change for the good of all.
Our honorary system is both unique and valuable to Island life in many ways and this should be retained. But change is inevitable and the Honorary Police system needs to move with the times and start to work closer with other Parishes and the States of Jersey Police to increase effectiveness and optimal support of Island initiatives.