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2023 in review: January and February

2023 in review: January and February

Wednesday 27 December 2023

2023 in review: January and February

Wednesday 27 December 2023


2023 began just as it ended - with no major decisions on how to pay for the services the island will need in the future.

The States began its debate at the January meeting, with the prospect of GST dominating much of the discussion although the proposals from Policy and Resources were more wide ranging.

Alternatives were proposed and rejected and the debate was adjourned to be picked up again at the February meeting, with yet more options put forward.

Still nothing stuck, with the main alternative to P&Rs plans garnering a tied vote and so considered lost. Six days of debate. No answers.

The year had started with the announcement two Guernsey people would be recognised in the New Years Honours list.

For decades of involvement in a vast array of community projects, Roy Bisson was awarded a BEM, while Lucy Beere’s glittering bowls career saw her receive an MBE for services to sport.

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Pictured: Lucy Beere.

Health and Social Care was busy making its argument for building houses on a field at the PEH, saying it was needed to help solve its recruitment problems.  

Those were exposed further later in the month when it confirmed spending on agency staff soared to at least £11.8m. the year earlier - more than double what the bill was before. Some 9% of the workforce - or 154 vacancies - were being filled by these staff, who attract premium pay to temporarily come to Guernsey.

There were 444 vacancies at the end of 2022, with vacancy rates above 20% in some areas.

Guernsey’s attractiveness as a place to do business was in doubt when a new report suggested new business was favouring Jersey instead.

Critical Economics’ investigation into a pan-Channel Islands’ vision comes as RBC Wealth Management announced it would close its Guernsey office, putting 89 jobs at risk, as it relocates key services to Jersey.

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But there were more positive signs from Guernsey Finance when it said bluechip companies were on their way. Work was underway on two new banking licences, two new wealth managers and two new life branches. 

An electric bus was trialed to see if it could be an option for the future, while safety group Living Streets was saved when it elected John Gollop as the new chair.

Statistics revealed that the number of electric and hybrid cars on Guernsey's roads tripled in the last two years, although they still make up only a small fraction of the estimated 65,100 vehicles in circulation.

By the end of 2022 there were 2,439 electric and hybrid cars being used, and a further 268 electric vans. They also revealed that new car sales fell to new lows, down from 2,175 new private cars being registered in 2018 to 1,299 last year.

Consultation began on plans for electricity prices to rise by an average 14.25% later in the year.

Guernsey Electricity’s proposed  hike came on the back of a 9% rise in July 2022, while there was an expectation at the time that further increases would be kept below that level.

Guernsey Post was making attempts to mitigate a "short term" multi-million pound loss making situation - which had cost the utility £2 million in just three months.

It said that 10% of staff - equating to 30 full time jobs - will be removed through either natural wastage when they reach retirement age or leave for other reasons, or through voluntary redundancy.

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Pay talks were proving tricky for the States.

The NASUWT - The Teachers' Union announced that it intends to hold a ballot and that it was "entirely the fault of the States".

While Guernsey’s nurses forced their union to rethink its opposition to a pay deal. Local members of the Royal College of Nursing, unhappy they have not had the pay rise, feared their union had been pushing them toward strike action. A petition the members circulated has forced the RCN to reopen a survey of members to help find out if there was a majority in favour of accepting what the States has offered.

A new independent charity was launched, to help enhance Guernsey’s natural environment while promoting biodiversity.

The announcement came after two years of preparatory work with the hunt on for non-executive directors  to join the Guernsey Nature Commission’s board.

GNC was conceived by the Guernsey Community Foundation to help deliver the States’ Strategy for Nature objectives, with £150,000 committed for three years, as well as two-year grant of £100,000 from the Social Investment Fund. The Environment & Infrastructure Committee also committed £300,000.

Another third sector organisation also secured its future. Bailiwick Social Prescribing will be extended until the end of 2024 thanks to a Social Investment Fund grant of £152,000 awarded to the Health Improvement Commission. 

New States figures showed that the average purchase price for local market homes continues to rise.

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On average, a local market home cost £638,267 in the final three months of 2022 – 15.9% higher than the same time in the previous year, 1.4% higher than the autumn of 2022, and 51.6% higher than five years previous.

The 2023 Guernsey Rally was a hit with many, but continued to attract opposition from others.

Hundreds of people were seen watching the event from vantage spectator sports on Friday and Saturday, with more watching from home via dedicated live feeds of the races.

Entries came from Jersey and the UK as well as local drivers, supported by co-drivers, marshalls, officials, and more.

But there were protests before and during the rally which saw some stages relocated in the months leading up to the weekend's races, and also the disruption of some of those races as they were being staged.

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