Members of the Guernsey Party are encouraging other deputies to get behind proposals put forward by the Policy & Resources Committee to set up an arm’s length agency to develop the island’s east coast.
Under the proposals, land from the Bridge to the southern end of Town would be run by a company owned by the States but with a board operating separately from government.
The plans were unveiled yesterday by the Policy & Resources Committee’s treasury lead, Deputy Mark Helyar, who is also the leader of the Guernsey Party in the States. The Committee hopes they will be debated by the States' Assembly at the end of March.
Deputies Nick Moakes and Simon Vermeulen, both of the Guernsey Party, said last night that the proposed development agency could move more quickly and develop more joined-up plans than States’ committees.
Pictured: Deputy Simon Vermeulen
“I hope the agency will be able to move at a commercial speed and be agile and responsive to change and opportunities,” said Deputy Vermeulen.
“The Bathing Pools is a great example of how a project with the private sector driving it has moved on so quickly and will become a jewel once again in Guernsey’s crown. Compared to the steps a few hundred yards away – [a project] which is still moving at a glacial pace.”
Deputy Moakes said: “The eastern seaboard is a large area and is home to a wide range of different services and activities. A number of States’ committees are responsible for different elements, which complicates things further.
“If more of these elements are brought under one agency, then it should be easier to develop and implement a joined-up strategy for the whole area. If done properly, it will deliver huge social and economic benefits to the whole island.”
Pictured: Deputy Nick Moakes
Guernsey’s Chamber of Commerce is similarly enthusiastic about the proposals – especially keeping the proposed development agency at arm’s length from States’ committees and politicians.
Chamber said that “very often the unintended consequences of state sector involvement result in red tape or complication that hinders business”.
“We have been pressing for the start of appropriate east coast development for several years and are delighted to hear that, as well as economic activity, the proposed board will also have a focus on sustainability and the blue economy,” said Chamber.
“This important work stream is key to the island’s ability to diversify and thrive. The development board has an ability to improve the physical environment for islanders at the same time as providing appropriate business and leisure opportunities, which are much needed.
“We are at an important point in time as the island and the people in its businesses try to recover from two years of pandemic and uncertainty. The creation of this development board would be an important positive indicator that the island’s economy is set to get a boost and that people here can enjoy all of the associated benefits.”
Pictured: The Chamber of Commerce said it "has been lobbying for a high degree of independence for the development board, coupled with a membership which has expert insight without any conflict around previously published schemes or States' perspectives" and is pleased with proposals to develop the east coast at arm's length from States' HQ.
Deputy Moakes said there had been too much procrastination about development along the east coast.
“People have been talking about doing something for years, but nothing has ever come to fruition. A development agency is the best way to get things done,” said Deputy Moakes.
“I do not want to second guess what a development agency might do, but I hope that it would focus on infrastructure, such as our harbours, piers and coastal defences, which have suffered years of underinvestment.
“I would like to see plans that will help to drive our economy whilst improving the area for locals and visitors alike. I would also like to see initiatives that will grow the blue economy and the green economy.”
Deputy Vermeulen hopes that a development agency would channel “significant investment in developing our infrastructure as this has been a significant under-investment in recent years”.
“Our harbour and our airport need to be the best they can be and I would hope any projects undertaken will be commercially focused and used to grow our island economy,” said Deputy Vermeulen.
Both deputies are confident that a development agency would avoid pursuing proposals which did not carry widespread public support.
Pictured: Previous plans for infrastructure development along Guernsey's east coast have produced large public demonstrations in opposition. Deputies supportive of the development agency now proposed by the Policy & Resources Committee are confident that will not happen this time around.
“I have faith in the proposed structure of the agency, which will include political oversight, and we need the right people driving the right projects for Guernsey forward,” said Deputy Vermeulen.
Deputy Moakes said: “The development agency will have political oversight. I believe that the agency will also be working closely with the local community and local businesses.”
Deputy Moakes is a member of the Committee for Economic Development and the States’ Trading Supervisory Board.
Deputy Vermeulen is the Vice President of the Committee for Home Affairs and a member of the Committee for Economic Development.
They were speaking to Express as individual deputies and not as spokesmen for their committees.
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