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"Wake up call" needed over governance and transparency

Friday 26 May 2023

"Wake up call" needed over governance and transparency

Friday 26 May 2023

With a lack of any business to attend to, the next States of Alderney meeting has been cancelled - with one States Member raising concerns over how "vital items for our community" are being dealt with.

Alex Snowdon said it is very rare for a States meeting to be cancelled but with the previous one only taking 15 minutes to cover all of the business at hand, he is questioning the rationale behind the Policy and Finance Committee debating items behind closed doors rather than the whole States debating them.

William Tate, the President of the States of Alderney, yesterday confirmed that the June 2023 States Meeting was cancelled.

William Tate

Pictured: President of the States of Alderney, William Tate.

"I have been advised that there is an absence of business to be conducted at the June Meeting of the States of Alderney. Accordingly, the Meeting of the States and the People's Meeting will not take place," he said.

"Should the need arise a Meeting can be arranged at short notice in accordance with the Rules of Procedure for States Meetings. The next meeting of the States of Alderney will be on the 26th of July."

Mr Snowdon told Express that he is concerned important business pertaining to the community in Alderney is being removed from the public domain with decisions being made behind closed doors.

"If we look at recent States meetings, we have seen items such as sorting out the future of the Alderney Commission For Renewable Energy (ACRE) taken away from the Chamber and given back to the Policy & Finance committee for further debate rather than debating the item in the States Chamber," he said.

He said it is not a new issue, and is one that has been concerning him for some time. He even compared the States of Alderney to the States of Guernsey with the latter being an example of better practice he said. 

"The last States meeting only took 15 minutes, with the Lieutenant-Governor in attendance. It would appear the Chamber is turning into a rubber-stamping exercise, instead of having meaningful debate in public over essential matters of public interest.

"There seems to be a fixation with undertaking decisions in committees and not submitting items for discussion into the Chamber as we see in Guernsey with policy letters containing recommendations which can be amended to achieve better openness and transparency than the States of Alderney currently in my opinion."

The most recent P&F meeting agenda included items for discussion such as an External Relations Update, a SoA Management Account Summary, and a report on the Alderney Ambulance Service - which was caught up in controversy a couple of years ago following an external report, and has been completely restructured as a result. 

Mr Snowdon said it is concerning that those matters are all on the island's agenda but the States are said to have no business to attend to.

"It is rare for the States meeting to be cancelled particularly when we have so much important business to deal with now," he said.

"The recent meeting of Alderney's most powerful committee, Policy & Finance contained a work plan update covering Alderney runway, Sports Centre, Swimming Pool, Family/Children’s Facility, Social Housing, Energy Turbines, Solar Panels & Tidal.

"These vital items for our community should be updated to the whole chamber when sitting, instead of being hidden behind closed doors, lacking any public scrutiny."

Alderney Reps. Steve Roberts & Alex Snowdon

Pictured: Alex Snowdon (r) and Steve Roberts (l) are the Alderney representatives in the States of Guernsey. Mr Snowdon said the States of Alderney should be debating matters of community interest and importance in the public domain like the States of Guernsey does.

"Other items included at the P&F meeting were the Commemorative Coin Contract, Alderney Ambulance Service SJARS Service Contract Delay Impact, Future Use of Nunnery, and Connaught Liaison Update. All these items are of interest to our community," continued Mr Snowdon.

"There needs to be a change in thinking from Alderney States members with more focus on debating these items in public if we want to try and achieve far better good governance for the public we serve.

"In my view, we need a wake-up call about the way we undertake government business within the States of Alderney."

In response to Mr Snowdon's concerns, the Chair of the Policy & Finance Committee, Nigel Vooght said:

"We have four committees not just P&F who can take matters to the States meetings. It is incumbent on each committee to bring forward matters which they can do 'without resolution’ as a report. In this way each committee can report its progress to the full States in public.

"Mr Snowdon is Chair of Economic Development and has not brought anything forward in the four months since he was appointed. Policy & Finance, Building & Development Control and General Services Committees have all brought matters forward in the recent past.

"We are a small island and it’s not a surprise PFC does not have any matters to raise on this occasion. This has happened before and is not unprecedented."

The next States of Alderney meeting is due to be held on 26 July, with the following meeting due to be held in September.

The Policy and Finance committee will meet next on 26 June with the agenda to be published on the Friday before that, 23 June.


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Alderney's soaring healthcare costs need addressing

States told that work on Alderney's runway can't be delayed further

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