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FOCUS: The States' agenda this year

FOCUS: The States' agenda this year

Monday 16 May 2022

FOCUS: The States' agenda this year

Monday 16 May 2022


The draft Government Work Plan - published by the Policy & Resources Committee on Friday - includes what the States hope to achieve over the next 12 months.

The Policy & Resources Committee's draft of the Plan will be debated by the Assembly and approved - with or without amendments - on 14 or 28 June.

Express delved into the 177 pages to pick out a selection of what deputies are likely to be getting their teeth stuck into in the year ahead.

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Pictured: The States are hoping to have left behind the days of lockdowns, business support packages and home learning as the world increasingly learns to live with the covid-19 virus.

The covid-19 pandemic

This edition of the Government Work Plan has a strong flavour of moving beyond the pandemic which has so affected life for more than two years.

The Committee says that "a responsive risk-based testing strategy has now been developed with the ability to ‘step up’ or ‘step down’ the Bailiwick’s response".

It hopes that 2022 will be the year when the focus can shift from managing cases of covid to preparing for similar events in the future and addressing some of the potentially longer term challenges caused or uncovered by the pandemic. 

"While no-one has been immune from the effects of the pandemic, some islanders have been disproportionately affected, for example children and young people, and there is a need to provide focused support," says the Committee.

"Learning lessons from the Bailiwick’s response to date may highlight the benefit of other legislative changes or influence the progression of policy workstreams not currently prioritised in the Government Work Plan."

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Pictured: The States will continue to pursue post-Brexit trade opportunities over the next 12 months.

Brexit and external relations

The Committee says that "significant progress has been made in the last 12 months on Guernsey’s participation in UK trade agreements as the island pursues opportunities that have arisen following Brexit" and suggests there will be more such agreements in the year ahead, potentially including with India, Canada, Mexico and Gulf states.

Taking more control of approving legislation has long been a goal of those keen on expanding the island's self-government and autonomy. The Committee's Plan has good news for them.

It says there are ongoing "discussions with the Ministry of Justice to seek modifications to the Bailiwick’s legislative process, which is hoped to be achieved in 2022".

The Committee is also optimistic that 2022 could see the return of a reciprocal health agreement with the UK. It says "good progress has been made in discussions with the UK Government [and] negotiations to finalise the detail are happening and are anticipated to conclude before the end of 2022", but it also acknowledges that "the implementation date is not yet confirmed".

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Pictured: The bridge linking Castle Cornet with Castle Emplacement and also the slipway at Havelet are two minor capital projects on the States ' to do' list later this year or next year.

Maintaining essential infrastructure 

The Government Work Plan reports on some projects which are delayed for various reasons - for example, the phased replacement of the bus fleet.

Other routine capital projects being progressed include:

  • repairing or replacing the Castle Emplacement Bridge with construction commencing in 2023;
  • repairing the slipway at Havelet in the third quarter of this year; and
  • reinstating the breakwater at Mont Crevelt by the end of this year to allow the continuation of inert waste disposal at Longue Hougue.

Recovery actions: the top 10

Last year, the States agreed 10 post-covid recovery actions as being of primary importance to the Government Work Plan's pledge of "investing in islanders, our island and our future".

The Committee President, Deputy Peter Ferbrache, has made housing his number one priority. "For this coming year, the pressure on our housing market is one area that we must address urgently, as it creates challenges in many other areas, socially and economically. We have taken some important steps, but we must do more, quickly," he said.

The Committee wants the States to back as yet unidentified actions to increase the supply and affordability of private housing and housing for key workers coming to the island and to press ahead with proposals to transfer States' social housing to the Guernsey Housing Association.

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Pictured: Deputy Peter Ferbrache wants housing to be the States' number one priority in the next year. The Co-op's proposed development of Leale's Yard is seen by many politicians as a big part of the solution.

On skills, the Committee says that "a plan will be published in quarter three 2022 to invest in the potential of islanders".

There are close links between work to develop skills and the island's population and immigration system, which the Committee says is being reviewed "at the same time" and which it hopes will be supported by "focusing on increasing productivity and enhancing workforce participation".

Providing universal access to fibre broadband is a key plank of the States' policy on digital infrastructure. The Government Work Plan states: "The next stage will accelerate the roll-out with 700 homes every month connected to the new network with the roll-out and connection of 100% of Guernsey premises, including 30,000 homes, due for completion in March 2027."

Amendments to the Children Law are slightly delayed - from the first half of this year to the second half.

Economic Development Committee

Pictured: The Committee for Economic Development could replace a panel independent of States' members which currently advises on the needs of the employment market and their effect on the island's population system.

Alongside the review of the island's population and immigration system, the States are expected to debate two specific changes in the third quarter of 2022: allowing older Open Market residents who have lived in the island for at least 14 years to move into the Local Market and scrapping the more independent Population Employment Advisory Panel and handing its role to the States' Committee for Economic Development.

A plan for the development of tourism is expected to be published before the end of this year and a report is being finalised on the possible extension of the runway.

The Committee also says: "Discussions continue with Condor, the Ports of Jersey and the Government of Jersey on a long-term operating agreement and associated ro-ro licensing legislation is being prepared. In addition, work is ongoing to assess what support can be given to investment in the ferry fleet."

In healthcare, the next year is set to include a States' debate on the future of primary care, and next month - in the Government Work Plan debate itself - deputies  will decide whether to "direct work to explore the options for a review of the legal status of cannabis".

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Pictured: The draft Government Work Plan lists 51 items of legislation to be prioritised for drafting.

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