Guernsey is at a crucial inflection point in its social, economic and environmental infrastructure. We cannot have one without a robust other. All need investment.
Invest in our Future
Release the deadlock on Infrastructure investment.
Priority now needs to be given to a sustainable economic recovery strategy for the Island while supporting a strong healthy community and environment.
I am in favour of prioritising Seafront Enhancement Area capital spend, ensuring an ecological and heritage balance is struck. The development of our eastern seaboard will drive the blue economy and act as a feeder to the hospitality and leisure sectors.
If COVID 19 has taught us all anything, it is that super-fast broadband is going to be the backbone of a global economic recovery.
Guernsey has lagged behind the world in the roll out of fibre broadband. Spend by government is needed on installation, through public/private joint ventures, to ensure this is delivered within the term of the next States.
I will continue to push for digital infrastructure like application programming interface (API) between government systems which facilitates much more efficient collaboration with the private sector. For Guernsey to be able to join the global digital economy properly, the States MUST prioritise API infrastructure for its data.
Economic enablement needs to focus on:
(a) finance sector
(b) identification of and nurturing an expanded economic base
(c) cost of living stabilisation.
The finance sector is the engine room of the Guernsey economy accounting for more than 60% of GDP directly and indirectly. Support for our finance sector must be maintained with developments in ESG investments (Environmental, Social and Governance) and similar initiatives nurtured.
Economic diversity on an island like Guernsey can only come through low footprint high value products like financial services. Some good propositions would be AI development or boutique horticulture such as cannabinoid growing as well as renewable energy development.
Removing the barriers to entrepreneurship and a co-ordinated action plan to nurture ecosystems around developing industries through a combination of incentives, support and skills programs should all be part of a holistic economic recovery strategy.
Support is needed for the squeezed middle by bringing the cost of living down and reducing the burden of hidden charges. Whilst we might have the benefits of a lower tax jurisdiction, there is an increasing number of islanders left out the thrive part of the equation.
The ‘squeezed middle’ might be an overused political soundbite, but it holds true as many islanders, even before COVID 19, were not feeling the benefits of the economic recovery demonstrated by our improved fiscal position. People with disabilities, for example are the first to feel the squeeze as there is a hidden cost to disability. We need to ensure that economic reforms capture this and support those on lower and middle incomes whilst not detracting from reviving the economy.
Building the future
Our children deserve to have an education system that nurtures them to reach their potential and give them the tools to thrive in our ever-changing world.
We have to move beyond the focus on buildings and easy political soundbites and concentrate on educational outcomes. Throughout the debates on Education I have supported the value of inclusive education and tried to ensure that Special Educational Needs and Disability provision in our schools is included as a central part of the transformation. I will continue to push for proper funding and pupil to teacher ratios which support the flexible, inclusive education delivery.
The design of the future of secondary education needs to be agreed and delivered. There are no easy solutions and the review will look at all the possible variations of the models with a transparent understanding of what compromises exist in each model. The review into SEND education was delayed due to COVID but will be completed in October and this will feed into the review of models.
The skills strategy has lagged behind the needs of business and the community and will need a post COVID reinvigoration. The Guernsey Institute will play a key role in the future of our island and should not be delayed by any further prevarication around delivery of post sixteen education.
Affordable Inclusive Healthcare
I support the Partnership of Purpose and the work on affordable healthcare, through the access to N.I.C.E drugs and primary care to ensure that no-one is excluded from accessing the help they need because of cost.
Work-streams that stem from the Disability and Inclusion Strategy, such as the access to appliances and adaptions, the realisation of the Autism, Learning Disability and Dementia Frameworks will be key to ensuring the gaps in provision are filled.
Mental health and well-being needs to be central to any community plan going forward. We cannot afford to ignore the strain that COVID has exposed in our support systems. Gaps in provision for young adults has to recognised and more done to improve the retention of specialist staff.
Protecting our Future
Our environment affects every aspect of our lives. Whether it's the incredible scenery that supports tourism, the air we breath, water we drink, the coast that protects us or the hedge rows teaming with biodiversity, we cannot continue to take nature for granted.
The Climate Crisis has rightly been put on the agenda. The adoption of the Climate Change action Plan and the Energy Policy present both challenges and opportunities for new sustainable industries and it is right that they form a part of the REVIVE and THRIVE recovery strategy.
On a small island that has limited space to develop it is inevitable that a tension exists between the natural environment and development. Through the Strategy for Nature, the concept of Biodiversity net gain and a more transparent, streamlined approach to planning can be achieved, but only if the proper funding is achieved.
Investment in our ecological heritage through a Centre For Nature will bring together many strands of the work on the environment, including opportunities for tourism, study programs and important data collation.
Disability, Inclusion and Equalities
An island where everyone has an opportunity to thrive
I am proud to have played a part in moving the disability and inclusion strategy forward and bringing the equalities legislation successfully through the States. There has been progress, but as the States’ Champion for Disabled People, I hear the stories of islanders who fall through the cracks so I know first-hand that there is still so much work to do and we cannot afford to leave people with disabilities out of the ‘Thrive’ part of recovery.
It will only be possible deliver the proposals through partnership with businesses and the community. Support for small businesses to understand and prepare for the legislation has to be embedded in the delivery of the legislation, that is why I tried to increase the funding for support and awareness raising and will not give up pushing for this vital support.
Through my work as a committee member of Environment & Infrastructure committee I have worked to embed accessibility across the mandate, from the public realm improvements to pushing for an accessible beach policy. Accessibility is a key policy in delivering an inclusive island and should be at the heart of redevelopment of St Peter Port and regeneration areas like Leales yard and the bridge.
The recent passing of the policy letter directing the drafting of legislation which will protect people from discrimination on the grounds of race, disability, carer status, sexual orientation and religion has marked an important step towards a truly inclusive island. The legislation is only the last resort, awareness raising and understanding across all the areas of equality must be a focus of the next States. Although I was disappointed that the Equality Rights Organisation was not funded, there remains scope to ensure that the work of an ERO is fulfilled through different mechanisms, whether that is partnership with the third sector or Social Investment funding.