At the end of a busy week in the Assembly, Deputies head for a two month break from attending States meetings – not, I hasten to add, a break from their homework. As I am sure you all know, we continue to have Committee meetings and presentations, we deal with parishioners’ queries and there is always a lot to read.
As the holidays begin, I thought I’d just do a summing up of what I see as the important decisions and discussions since January.
We started the year with a bang and the Motion of No Confidence in the Committee for Education Sport & Culture which they survived. We will find out this week if the confidence they were shown by the majority of my colleagues was well-founded when we see their plans for the three school model.
February saw a debate on whether or not to allow people to burn their dry garden waste at any time. The debate masked the introduction of some excellent new measures to prohibit emissions of dark smoke, to set standards for local air quality and prohibit uncontrolled burning of non-garden waste.
The culmination of the long running Waste Strategy also came to a head when confirmation was given for the tender process to be completed just in time before Mont Cuet fills up. Since then, the Douzaines have got together to see if they can agree on streamlining the collection of the different types of rubbish and how parishioners will receive their bills.
The Finance and Business Support sectors have been much in our thoughts with the introduction of various bits of legislation to keep us at the forefront of international regulation. One such piece was the introduction of the Beneficial Ownership Register for legal entities from the 1st July this year. This is a mighty piece of work, completed quickly, and setting the standard for all offshore finance centres. It creates a secure database containing information which will greatly help law enforcement in their work to prevent financial crime.
Two commencement Ordinances were passed with different reactions. The Same Sex Marriages legislation was heralded with great joy whilst the clamour against the Population Management Law was audible amongst businesses across the Island. As with most changes, the PML has taken a lot more time and resources than initially forecast but the cries continue for more lax treatment for foreign workers. BREXIT will clearly dictate what we need to do but at least the PML is a better foundation to deal with these unknowns than the previous housing licence regime ever was.
The work to enable the introduction of the new data protection regulation from the EU and Document Duty ant-avoidance legislation were also agreed upon. New rules for the statements by Presidents of all committees was also introduced. Two of the projects given to us on the Development & Planning Authority by the Island Development Plan debate last November came to fruition. One more step was taken in the Fontaine Vinery saga and also towards having that cup of tea at Stan Brouard.
Lastly, this month, we had debates on the States Accounts and the P&R Plan Phase Two. Whilst the discussion on the facts and figures of what happened in 2016 was illuminating, my frustration in respect of the Plan was profound. Having spent weeks trying to find out what aspects of the many projects, plans and resource requests we were being asked to approve – high level or full detail – I was told in the dying moments that there will be a 6 page summary document produced. Once seen, I will find out what of the 200 page document remains and, hopefully, I can endorse the refined document without fear of unforeseen consequences.
So to the summer and the continuation of the heated argument over what to do about the anti-tank wall at L’Ancresse. I hope that we can find a sensible compromise taking into account both the views of local people and the cost to the taxpayers of Guernsey.
Wishing you all happy holidays.