Getting on with what can be achieved is more beneficial than being visionary and achieving nothing, the head of P&R told the States.
In his report to the Assembly, Deputy Peter Ferbrache outlined the many and varied aims of the Policy & Resources Committee but with a warning that not all will have a positive outcome.
“A lot of work has been started. A lot of work has been accelerated. But there is much to complete. We said we would get on with things and I believe we are.
“Time, money and people are all valuable resources and limited. We want to look at the end of this Assembly in the rear-view mirror and say that the Assembly has achieved much. It will not achieve everything and there will be people who will be disappointed."
Deputy Ferbrache's report came after a searching question under the Rules of Procedure from Deputy Gavin St Pier, his predecessor as head of P&R, about the perceived lack of progress of the Committee.
On Brexit, Deputy Ferbrache said the Assembly was well served by the External Relations Team and in particular Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq, who had laid the groundwork of establishing contacts with UK ministers, Parliamentarians and colleagues in Jersey, the Isle of Man and on the Continent.
Pictured: Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq, whose groundwork in establishing contacts with UK ministers was praised by Deputy Ferbrache.
Deputy Ferbrache emphasised his committee’s confidence in Guernsey Finance, although he felt that it is under-funded and with the right resources it can “expand its sphere of influence and valuable work”.
He said: “We must be alive to challenges and we must deal with them. Again, a fair amount of time has been spent in relation to that already, but that task is never going to be fully achieved.”
Effective, proportionate regulation was important to support the sector’s competitiveness, Deputy Ferbrache said. The Credit & Finance Bill was agreed by the Assembly, and the Banking Resolution Authority will be brought to the States in July.
In facing the challenge of Covid, Deputy Ferbrache commended the work of the previous Civil Contingencies Authority, civil servants, medical professionals and countless others. He called Dr Nicola Brink “inimitable and irreplaceable”.
Pictured: Dr Nicola Brink - “inimitable and irreplaceable” in the words of Deputy Ferbrache.
The unlocking of the Public Service Obligation (PSO) impasse and the new arrangement between Guernsey, Alderney and Aurigny was pleasing, said Deputy Ferbrache.
“This was left for too long in the previous term, and having said that we would resolve it quickly I am pleased that we have done so.”
P&R has set aside £17m. to ensure minor capital projects can be moved on at pace, and the Committee now has delegated authority of up to £5m. to enable faster decision-making.
“As a Committee and an Assembly we must invest in the economy and its recovery in order to generate the revenue that we need to continue to invest in our very important public services.”
To support the development of the Government Work Plan, Deputy Ferbrache announced that P&R is establishing a sub-committee to assist prioritisation and ensure that the wider States is included in the thinking that leads to decisions.
P&R is close to finalising an Air Policy Framework that will support meeting its connectivity objectives and help set clearer and deliverable objectives for Aurigny through its shareholder. P&R is also in continuing discussions with Condor over a new operating agreement. Deputy Ferbrache promised another update to the Assembly in the next three months.
Pictured: P&R is close to finalising an Air Policy Framework that will help set clearer and deliverable objectives for Aurigny through its shareholder.
A development plan for 2021, 2022 and beyond is being drawn up, in collaboration with the Tourism Sector, said Deputy Ferbrache. He also emphasised his committee’s support for the revitalisation of St Peter Port.
“One of the big things we must move on from the previous term is the opportunity to regenerate the seafront. The first step is the establishment of Seafront Regeneration Advisory Board, independent members reporting to the States, which will over time become a formal Regeneration Board.
“The Advisory Board will work with the community and the States to develop a vision for the seafront; will support the States in delivering the work that comes from the work of the Ports Board on future harbours which comes to the States this summer; and will work with investors to deliver a major infrastructure project with economic, logistical and no doubt environmental benefits.”
Pictured: The establishment of Seafront Regeneration Advisory Board will work with the community and the States to develop a vision for the seafront.
A broadband working group is already at an advance stage of the decision-making process for the accelerated roll-out of superfast broadband, as digital connectivity is critical to the island’s competitiveness, said Deputy Ferbrache.
P&R will keep asserting the island’s constitutional position, and this week has been considering a paper on Royal Assent.
“Discussions are ongoing with the Ministry of Justice on a new system of Royal assent which will allow certain items to be granted Royal Assent by the Lt Governor on island, rather than at Privy Council meetings that take place in the UK. This will allow greater flexibility on timing and will better reflect how the constitutional relationship works in practice,” said Deputy Ferbrache.
Deputy Ferbrache also gave brief details of ongoing work with respect to medical tourism, insolvency and bankruptcy law, and strengthening the Open Market, further details of which will be presented to the Assembly in the coming months. Meetings with political counterparts in Jersey and the Isle of Man to discuss shared working will resume, having fallen off the agenda last term.
Deputy Ferbrache also indicated that a review of the management of its thousands of properties would be considered next month. The Committee is also examining its role as an employer, including in respect of the terms and conditions for its 14 pay groups, a number he considers to be too many.
He concluded: “I said I would also like to see a more pro-active and purposeful States. I believe we are on our way.”
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