The President of the Policy & Resources Committee, Deputy Peter Ferbrache, has confirmed that he will nominate Deputy Bob Murray to replace Deputy Heidi Soulsby, who resigned from the States' senior committee last week.
"Deputy Murray is a very capable States' member who is not afraid to tackle the big issues and we believe he will make a valuable contribution to the Committee. We hope the Assembly will support our nomination," said Deputy Ferbrache late yesterday afternoon.
Express reported on Wednesday that Deputy Murray looked set to secure Deputy Ferbrache's backing. The election will be held at the next States' meeting on 23 November. Other candidates can be nominated if they have a proposer and seconder.
Express understands that the Committee approached at least two other States’ members – and possibly a third – about standing for the vacant seat but was turned down by each of them. It is not known whether these approaches were made before or alongside the Committee’s discussions with Deputy Murray.
Deputy Ferbrache said yesterday that Deputy Murray received "the unanimous support" of the Committee, which also includes Deputies Mark Helyar, Jonathan Le Tocq and David Mahoney.
Pictured: The members of the Policy & Resources Committee - clockwise from top right: Deputies Peter Ferbrache (President), David Mahoney, Jonathan Le Tocq and Mark Helyar - all said they support Deputy Bob Murray's nomination for the vacant fifth seat on the Committee.
Express set up a poll to allow readers to vote on who they would like to see as the new member on the Committee. Hundreds of votes were cast and the poll has now closed.
Seven deputies featured in the poll: Chris Blin, Yvonne Burford, Andrea Dudley-Owen, Liam McKenna, Nick Moakes, Bob Murray and Lyndon Trott. Readers were also able to write in the names of other deputies if they wished.
Pictured: Results of Express' poll on who should be elected to the Policy & Resources Committee.
Deputy Trott topped the poll with more than a third of votes.
Deputy Burford finished in second place with the support of around a quarter of voters.
Every other deputy in the list received fewer than 10% of votes.
Deputy Murray, the Committee's preferred candidate, was supported by just under 6% of readers.
In total, other names written in by voters received 12%. They included Deputies Sasha Kazantseva-Miller, Victoria Oliver and Gavin St. Pier.
Pictured: Deputy Lyndon Trott came a clear first in Express' poll and Deputy Yvonne Burford came a clear second, both well ahead of other deputies on the 'ballot paper'.
Deputy Trott told Express earlier this week that he was approached by Deputy Ferbrache and sounded out about whether he would join the Committee. But he said he was told there would be no room for him to lead in his areas of previous experience - financial affairs or external relations - and therefore declined.
Deputy Burford said last night that she wanted to join the Committee when it was initially elected immediately after the 2020 general election but does not wish to take up the seat left vacant by Deputy Soulsby's resignation.
"Although I requested a seat on Policy & Resources at the start of this political term, I am not interested in joining at this point," said Deputy Burford.
"It’s disappointing that the Committee appears to have rejected Deputy St. Pier’s interest as his experience and differing viewpoints would, in my view, be beneficial to the operation of the Committee. It will be interesting to see if any members stand from the floor for the position."
Pictured: Deputy Gavin St. Pier made enquiries about the vacancy on the Policy & Resources Committee, but the Committee believes that Deputy Bob Murray is more suited to the role.
Deputy St. Pier said earlier this week that he registered his interest with the Committee, but the Committee was not interested in proposing him. He was highly critical of the Committee's decision to nominate Deputy Murray and last night said he expected at least one other candidate to stand in the election.
"The Committee will not be strengthened by simply cloning itself with an uncontested nomination of Deputy Murray to fill the vacant seat. So I hope that there will be a contested election. I am quite sure that will happen," said Deputy St. Pier, who was President of the Committee between 2016 and 2020.
It is understood that some deputies are encouraging Deputy St. Pier to stand in the election. He lost all three committee elections in which he stood after the general election and therefore currently has no committee seat. He has been among the Committee's strongest critics so far this term.
Pictured: Deputy Heidi Soulsby resigned after two years on the Committee.
Deputy Soulsby's responsibilities on the Committee included leading the States' work plan, which sets out their agenda and priorities, and chairing a review of the island's machinery of government.
Deputy Trott said that his discussions with the Committee left him with the impression that Deputy Soulsby's successor would be expected to take on these roles.
Deputy Murray is currently Vice President of the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture. He is understood to have been the original driving force behind the Committee's proposal to reorganise secondary education into three 11-16 schools and a sixth form college co-located but separate from The Guernsey Institute, which is now States' policy and is intended to be fully in place by September 2025.
He would be required to resign as a member of the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture if elected to the Policy & Resources Committee. Deputy Lindsay de Sausmarez tweeted last night that this was "a serious consideration".
"As I understand it, Bob is far and away the most involved with the secondary model project, and I doubt it would be easy for anyone else to pick it up if he leaves the Committee [for Education, Sport & Culture]," she said.
Deputy Murray is also a member of the Development & Planning Authority, from which he would also have to resign if elected to the Policy & Resources Committee.
Elections to fill those vacancies would then most likely be held when the States meet on 14 December in their final meeting before the Christmas and New Year break.
Pictured: Deputy Victoria Oliver (left), President of the Development & Planning Authority, and Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen, President of the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture. They will both be looking for a new member if Deputy Bob Murray is elected to the Policy & Resources Committee and therefore leaves his current committee posts.
When Deputy Soulsby resigned from the Committee, she said: "It has been obvious for quite a while that my views and advice have not been valued by some on the Committee and I think there is little point in me continuing in the hope that things may get better.
"I thank you [Deputy Ferbrache] personally for inviting me on to the Committee after the last election. However, two years on, I now believe I will be able to make more of a positive contribution to the future of Guernsey outside of the Committee."
Most deputies spoken to by Express said that Deputy Soulsby's resignation would weaken the Committee. But Deputy Carl Meerveld, the President of the States' Assembly & Constitution Committee, said her departure may prove cathartic.
"A strong committee requires a degree of unity and shared vision to pursue its policies. This is particularly important for Policy & Resources as the steering committee coordinating policy initiatives and finances across the whole Assembly," said Deputy Meerveld.
"Every committee member is entitled to question and challenge, but when that descends into entrenched division the committee may be strengthened by changes in membership. I believe this may prove to be the case with Policy & Resources."
Pictured: Deputy Carl Meerveld thinks the Policy & Resources Committee may be better off with a new member who is closer politically to the other members of the Committee.
The Committee has pencilled in 28 November to publish its flagship tax and spending proposals - including the introduction of a goods and services tax [GST] - which is just three working days after the election of its newest member.
In his campaign at the 2020 general election, Deputy Murray, along with his colleagues in The Guernsey Party, of which he remains a member, pledged to "aim for no tax increases during the next term, no GST [and to] maintain low taxation to be internationally competitive".
However, it is considered unlikely that the Committee would have agreed to nominate a candidate whose first action, once elected, would be to oppose the Committee's proposal for GST.
Main image: Deputies Lyndon Trott (left), Bob Murray (top right) and Peter Ferbrache (bottom left).
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