STATES OF JERSEY
FRIDAY, 25th MARCH 2022
STATEMENTS ON A MATTER OF OFFICIAL RESPONSIBILITY
1. Statement to be made by the President of the Jersey branch of the L’Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie to commemorate the Mois de la Francophonie (French speaking month)
1.1 Deputy M. Tadier of St. Brelade (President, Jersey branch, L’Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie):
1.1.1 Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré:
1.1.2 Deputy R.J. Ward of St. Helier:
1.1.3 Senator J.AN. Le Fondré:
1.1.4 Senator K.L. Moore:
PUBLIC BUSINESS - resumption
2. Island Plan 2022-25: Approval (P.36/2021) - as amended
2.1 Deputy S.G. Luce of St. Martin:
2.1.1 Deputy I. Gardiner of St. Helier:
2.1.2 Connétable J.E. Le Maistre of Grouville:
2.1.3 Connétable A. Jehan of St. John:
2.1.4 Deputy J.H. Perchard of St. Saviour:
2.1.5 Deputy R.J. Ward:
2.1.6 Deputy G.C. Guida of St. Lawrence:
2.1.7 Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré:
2.1.8 Deputy R.E. Huelin of St. Peter:
2.1.9 Deputy K.G. Pamplin of St. Saviour:
2.1.10 Senator L.J. Farnham:
2.1.11 Connétable M.K. Jackson of St. Brelade:
2.1.12 Deputy L.B.E. Ash of St. Clement:
2.1.13 Deputy K.F. Morel of St. Lawrence:
2.1.14 Deputy G.P. Southern of St. Helier:
Connétable J. Le Bailly of St. Mary:
2.1.15 Connétable K. Shenton-Stone of St. Martin:
2.1.16 Connétable D.W. Mezbourian of St. Lawrence:
2.1.17 Senator S.Y. Mézec:
2.1.18 Deputy M. Tadier:
The Connétable of St. Mary:
2.1.19 Deputy K.C. Lewis of St. Saviour:
LUNCHEON ADJOURNMENT PROPOSED
2.1.20 Deputy J.H. Young:
ARRANGEMENT OF PUBLIC BUSINESS FOR FUTURE MEETINGS
3. Deputy C.S. Alves of St. Helier (Chair, Privileges and Procedures Committee):
3.1 Deputy M. Tadier:
3.2 Deputy J.H. Perchard:
3.3 Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré:
3.3.1 Senator LJ. Farnham:
3.4 Senator S.W. Pallett:
3.5 Deputy C.S. Alves:
The Roll was called and the Dean led the Assembly in Prayer.
The Deputy Greffier of the States (in the Chair):
Before we restart the Island Plan debate we have a statement by the President of the Jersey branch of the L’Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie to commemorate the Mois de la Francophonie
Merci, Madame. Bonjour, Bouônjour, good morning, everybody. Madame, can I welcome the guests we have upstairs, Messr Cerquiglini, (French spoken) [Approbation] You are very welcome here with us today. Les membres des Etats sont conscients que le mois de mars à Jersey est marqué comme le ‘Mois de la Francophonie’. Une série d’événements a donc été organisée tout au long du mois par l’Alliance Française, en collaboration avec la Maison de la Normandie et de la Manche et L’Office du Jèrriais, pour promouvoir la langue française. Cela comprend une conférence à laquelle les membres ont été invités sur l’influence du vieux normand sur l’anglais et le français. Le mois coïncide avec le fait que le 20 mars est désigné chaque année comme la “Journée internationale de la Francophonie”. C’est l’un des objectifs de l’A.P.F. de favoriser l’apprentissage et l’expression du français; et la Section de Jersey a été heureuse de soutenir l’Alliance dans ses efforts ce mois-ci. Le français fait partie intégrante de l’histoire de Jersey et de son identité, mais bien au-delà d’être un ‘vestige’ du passé, il offre désormais des opportunités. Il y a l’opportunité de communiquer : plus facilement et plus directement avec nos plus proches voisins mais également avec le monde francophone qui va bien au-delà de la France. Il y a l’opportunité de s’ouvrir à d’autres cultures, car apprendre une langue est apprendre un mode de pensée, c’est rencontrer l’autre. Et il y a l’opportunité pour les jeunes jersiais de pouvoir s’ouvrir à d’autres horizons. Il existe de nombreuses façons de le faire dans notre île. Par exemple, après 2 années d’interruption due à la pandémie de Covid-19, la section française de l’Eisteddfod a eu lieu le 9 mars dernier et 177 enfants ont pu montrer toute l’étendue de leurs talents et leur joie de parler en français. Cet évènement majeur pour la promotion de la francophonie sur l’île, montre, par sa vitalité et l’engouement qu’il suscite, que la langue française a une place bien particulière à Jersey. En outre, il y a Le Rocher: l’unique journal en langue française publié, une fois par trimestre, dans les îles Anglo-Normandes. Ce journal offre également une plateforme aux langues normandes et vernaculaires des îles puisqu’une page de chaque numéro est consacré à des articles en Jersiais, Guernesiais ou Normand! Il montre en cela que, loin d’être en concurrence les langues s’enrichissent mutuellement. La section de Jersey accueille favorablement ces initiatives et les opportunités qu’elles offrent pour soutenir et encourager non seulement les francophones mais aussi l’apprentissage des langues en général. On estime que seulement 40 pour cent de la population mondiale sont monolingues, 60 pour cent de la population mondiale étant bilingue ou multilingue; et les objectifs de l’A.P.F. incluent l’accent mis sur le multilinguisme ainsi que sur la promotion du français. Le monolinguisme n’est pas quelque chose auquel nous devrions aspirer en tant que communauté insulaire; pourtant, c’est quelque chose que nous risquons de laisser se produire. Il est regrettable que, depuis des décennies, le nombre de francophones dans notre population diminue. Il est également préoccupant que le français, étant en général une langue secondaire à l’école, ne fasse plus partie du programme de base du G.C.S.E. Il parait essentiel d’accroitre l’enseignement du français, dès le plus jeune âge, par des programmmes tels que la ‘French Experience’ (l’expérience française), mais aussi en profitant pleinement de la chance d’avoir, sur notre petite île, une institution comme l’Alliance Française, dont les professeurs, tous français natifs sont spécialisés dans l’enseignement du français en tant que langue étrangère. Quelle opportunité unique pour nos élèves (et pour nous) d’apprendre une langue au contact de locuteurs natifs! C’est une chance que n’ont pas de très nombreux élèves au Royaume-Uni et que nous devrions exploiter au mieux. Par le passé, il était interdit aux élèves de parler leur langue maternelle à l’école, sous peine de châtiments corporels. Aujourd’hui, la répression du langage est beaucoup plus subtile. Par exemple, le fait même que je prononce ce discours aujourd’hui en français risque de provoquer une réaction viscérale chez certains auditeurs. Cela est compréhensible, car la langue est intrinsèquement liée à l’identité. On me reprochera d’avoir osé faire un discours dans une langue que tant de personnes à l’Assemblée et dans l’Île ne comprendront pas (heureusement, j’ai fourni une traduction). In anglaise, there is a translation in English. Ceci malgré le fait que le français soit l’une des langues de travail de notre Assemblée, et en plus, avant même que l’anglais ne soit autorisé à être parlé pour la première fois ici en 1900. Ce genre de réactions, si elles sont compréhensibles, sont regrettables. Je pense que Jersey doit raviver son amour du français, quelle que soit sa forme. Le Mois et la Journée de la Francophonie sont donc pour nous des occasions opportunes de reconnaître les bienfaits d’apprendre et de parler une autre langue et, en particulier, le Jersiais. Le Comité note avec satisfaction qu’une stratégie linguistique doit être lancée le jeudi 5 mai; à l’instar de la stratégie du Jèrriais qui est également imminente. En effet, si je peux revenir sur la troisième de nos langues officielles au sein des Etats, je dirais: J’ai étout l’pliaîsi d’annonchi qu’la Stratégie du Jèrriais s’en va êt’ lanchie au mais d’Avri. Chutte stratégie nos dithe tchi sorte dé travas qu’i’ faut faithe pouor êt’ seux qu’not’ précieuse langue Jèrriaise étha un av’nîn, par exempl’ye en trouvant du run pouor lé Jèrriais dans lé tchuthitchulum dé Jèrri. I’ faut célébrer nos réchinnes Françaises et l’Jèrriais nos aîgue à èrténîn not’ identité Nouormande. En terminant, je voudrais rendre hommage aux organisations de l’Île qui œuvrent pour la promotion du français, du jérriais, et donc d’un Jersey multilingue. L’Alliance Française, sous la houlette d’Anna la nouvelle Directrice; la Maison de la Normandie et de la Manche; le Consul Honoraire; le Bureau des Iles Anglo-Normandes à Caen; L’Office du Jérriais; les associations paroissiales de jumelage; et les professeurs et assistants de français de l’île. Au nom de la section Jersey de l’A.P.F., à tous les francophones de l’île, je leur souhaite solidarité et fraternité dans une égale mesure! [Approbation]
English Transaction of the above Statement
Members are aware that March in Jersey is being marked as the ‘Mois de la Francophonie’. A series of events has therefore been organised throughout the month by the Alliance Française, in conjunction with the Maison de la Normandie et de la Manche and L’Office du Jèrriais, to promote the language of French. This includes a conference to which members were invited on the influence of Old Norman on both English and French. The month coincides with the fact that 20th March is designated each year as the ‘Journée Internationale de la Francophonie’. It is one of the APF’s objects to promote the learning and speaking of French; and the Jersey Section has been pleased to support the Alliance in its endeavours this month.
French is an integral part of Jersey’s history and identity, but from being a vestige of the past the language offers opportunities today. The opportunity to communicate more easily and more directly, not only with our closest neighbours but also with the French-speaking world that stretches far beyond France. The opportunity to open ourselves to other cultures, as learning another language is to learn another way of thinking and to understand others. And the opportunity for young Jersey people to be able to explore new horizons.
There are numerous ways in which this is done in our Island. For instance, having been interrupted for 2 years by the Covid Panedemic, the French section of the Jersey Eisteddfod took place on 9th March, with 177 students being able to show the breadth of their talent and joy in speaking French. This significant event for the promotion of French-speaking in the Island shows through the engagement and enjoyment it prompts, that French has a special place in Jersey. There is also Le Rocher, the sole French-language newspaper in the Channel Islands, printed on a quarterly basis. This newspaper also provides a platform for the Norman and indigenous languages of the Islands, as a page is dedicated in each edition to articles in Jèrriais, Guernesiais and Norman. It shows that, far from competing with each other, different languages can benefit each other.
The Jersey Section welcomes these initiatives and the opportunities they provide to support and encourage not only French-speaking but language-learning generally. It is estimated that only 40% of the world are monolingual, with 60% of people globally being bilingual or multi-lingual; and the objectives of the APF include that focus on multilingualism as well as the promotion of French. Monolingualism is not something that we should aspire to as an Island community; yet it is something we are at risk of allowing to happen. It is a matter of regret that, over a period of decades, the number of French speakers in our population has been decreasing. It is also a matter of concern that French, indeed a second language in general, no longer forms a part of the core curriculum at GCSE.
It is essential to increase the teaching of French, from the youngest age, through programmes like the French Experience; but also by making the most of the presence in our Island of institutions like the Alliance Française, whose teachers are all native speakers specialising in the teaching of French as a foreign language. This provides a unique opportunity for our students (indeed, all of us) to learn a language from native speakers. It’s an opportunity that many students in the U.K. do not have and we should make the most of it.
In the past, pupils were forbidden from speaking their native tongue at school, with the threat of corporal punishment. Today, language repression is much more subtle. For example, the very fact that I am delivering this speech today in French is likely to cause a visceral reaction in some listeners. This is understandable, as language is inherently linked to identity. I will be criticised for daring to make a speech in a language that so many in the Assembly and the Island will not understand (luckily, I have provided a translation). This is despite French being one of the working languages of our Assembly, and indeed, the working language before English was allowed to be spoken for the first time in here in 1900. These kind of reactions, if understandable, are regrettable. I believe Jersey needs to rekindle its love of French, in which ever form it takes.
The Mois and Journée de la Francophonie are therefore welcome opportunities for us to recognise the benefits of learning and speaking another language and, in particular, Jersey. The Committee is pleased to note that a language strategy is due to be launched on Thursday 5th May; whilst the Jèrriais strategy is also imminent. Indeed, if I can revert to the third of our official languages in the States:
I also have the pleasure of announcing that the Jèrriais Language Strategy is going to be launched in April. This strategy tells us what sort of work needs to be done to be sure that our precious Jèrriais language will have a future, for example by finding room for Jèrriais in the Jersey curriculum. We must celebrate our French roots and the Jèrriais language helps us to retain our Norman identity.
In closing, I would like to pay tribute to those organisations in the Island who work for the promotion of French, of Jèrriais, and therefore of a multilingual Jersey. The Alliance Française, under the leadership of Anna the new Directrice; the Maison de la Normandie et de la Manche; the Honorary Consul; the Bureau des Iles Anglo-Normandes in Caen; L’Office du Jèrriais; the Parish twinning associations; and the Island’s French teachers and assistants. On behalf of the Jersey Section of the APF, to all the Island’s French speakers, I wish them solidarity and fraternity in equal measure!”
The Deputy Greffier of the States (in the Chair):
Merci mille fois et mèrcie bein des fais. There now follows 15 minutes of questions to the President of the A.P.F. (L’Assemblée Parlementaire de la Francophonie) should anyone wish to ask a question of him in whatever language you choose to utilise. Senator Le Fondré has a question.
Dans l’esprit de la fraternité, Monsieur le Président partage-t-il mes inquiétudes pour nos confrères membres de l’Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie (à savoir par exemple, la Hongrie, la Roumanie, la Pologne et la Moldavie) que j’ai visité plusieurs fois dans le cadre to l’A.P.F. et qui sont maintenant terriblement proches à la première guerre européenne que nous avons vue en plus de 70 ans et qui on tout vu l’occupation et l’oppression dans le passé. If you want a translation basically, in the spirit of the fraternity and the gallery the president referred to, does the President share my concerns for our fellow members of the A.P.F., namely, for example, Hungary Romania, Poland and Moldavia, most of which by chance I have visited as part of the A.P.F., and that are now frighteningly close to the first European war we have seen in over 70 years and all of whom have seen occupation and oppression in the past?
Deputy M. Tadier:
Je suis d’accord et bien sûr on écoute tous les infos à chaque jour et on voit que la situation en Ukraine, c’est très, très difficile et ça devient de pire en pire; et tout ce qu’on peut avoir c’est l’espoir qu’il y va avoir une solution paisible. En tant que Président de la Section, moi aussi je transmet de notre part des salutations et – ce sont des mots bizarres – des meilleurs voeux – tout ce qu’on peut; un sentiment fort et profond pour que cette situation s’ameliore et surtout on pense aux autres Sections qui sont très proches à l’Ukraine (la Pologne, la Hongrie, par exemple, déjà mentionnées). So of course I send our best wishes, and words really do fail at times like these. We can only hope for a peaceful solution and I certainly, on behalf of the Assembly and the A.P.F., think particularly about the sections of the A.P.F. who are very close neighbours to them, and we send our best wishes. It is difficult not to sound trite in these situations but all we can do, I guess, is hope and it brings me back to the point that this is why I think languages and good relations with our neighbours are so critical when we have little disagreements politically, and we see that they soon get put into context, when we see what is going on, on the doorstep of Europe. We know that we have strong relations both with our northern neighbours in the U.K. (United Kingdom) and our French neighbours to the south and west.
I have asked many questions in this Assembly but never as nervous as this one, so let us give it a go. J’ai suivi des cours avec mes collègues, Madame la Connétable de St. Martin et Madame la Député, Le Hegarat au cours des deux dernières années. I would like to ask Deputy Tadier, would he join me in saying how important that opportunity is and je voudrais remercier notre professeur pour sa patience et sa compétence. Merci Anna et felicitations pour votre mariage. [Approbation]
Deputy M. Tadier:
Of course I am happy to share in the approbation and I fully agree; I congratulated Anna earlier in my speech. She has just taken over as the new Director or Directrice; I think you can say either The jury is still out on what the politically correct language is, even in the French lexicon. She is very ably aided by Chloë, who has also stepped up, and they have a challenge at the Alliance and I will be asking a question next week about funding for language assistance, which is being perennially, certainly in mine and Deputy Southern’s time in the Assembly, an area where it can be seen as an easy cut but I hope it is a temporary one due to COVID rather than anything structural. I think we need to get behind the work of the language assistance, whoever they are provided for, but by the Alliance in particular because they provide such a unique experience for our children in schools, especially when they cannot travel abroad easily, either due to COVID or simply by the fact that exchange programmes no longer really exist. Where it was possible for perhaps us to go and spend a week with a family in France, that is no longer the norm in Jersey anymore. So having access to a native French speaker with the proper accent, not like my Jersey-cow accent, as you might say la bash anglaise, it is really important for those pupils at a young age to hear that.
La prochaine conférence des présidents aura lieu bientôt, le Président, sera-ti-il prêt à inviter les conférences, soit des présidents, soit de la région, comme on a fait la dernière fois en 2015? In English, hopefully that was the next President’s conference is soon, taking place in Europe, would the President be prepared to extend an invitation for either the European regional conference or the President’s conference to visit again as it last did in 2015?
Deputy M. Tadier:
Thank you to the Chief Minister for that question. I think it is really important that when people come to Jersey, our French cousins or French-speaking cousins, they are always struck by the hospitality that they receive, whether it is by the States Assembly or by the twinning associations in the various Parishes, and of course that is something which is reciprocated. It seems like it has been too long since we have been able to meet in person with our French or francophone counterparts and the value that gives in a soft diplomatic sense, if that is the right phrase, is really important and I think it makes it easier that when we do need to talk hard politics, if you like, the realpolitik of it certainly in the Jersey context, it makes it much easier to do that when we keep those relations going. I think it would be right. We need to talk to the committee about the practicalities of hosting an event, but I think we have done it well in the past. I just recall the first one I went to. I think it was 2009 when Constable Juliette Gallichan - she was the president for a while - and under her stewardship I think there were also great relationships. I acknowledge all the work that has gone on by previous presidents and the committee members of past assemblies too.
Mais remerciements au Président et bravo à Monsieur le Député Ward. Je voulais simplement demander combine entre nous prennent des cours de Français chez l’Alliance Française chaque semaine?
Deputy M. Tadier:
C’est une question où je n’ai pas les chiffres à porter de main. Je vais parler avec Anna à toute à l’heure. On va voir. Je sais qu’il y a des nombreuses qui prennent des cours parmi nous. Je ne vais pas les announcer parce que c’est personnel. Senator Moore asked how many of us do take French lessons with the Alliance and it is worth just reminding ourselves that they do offer this. It is something which the Greffe provides for us. We do not often get a lot of C.P.D. (continuing professional development) in the Assembly and I think that whatever our levels or aptitudes are it is really worth taking up the Alliance on that offer and the Greffe, in particular, on that offer. Whether it is groups or individuals they can really tailor your French lessons for you and they can of course also do it ad hoc so if you need to prepare for a particular visit or to welcome somebody or to go abroad for holiday or probably more likely for your constituency duties they are the ones to talk to in the first instance.
The Deputy Greffier of the States (in the Chair):
Does anybody else have any questions? If there are no further questions then that draws this period to an end. I would like to thank everybody for that.
The Deputy Greffier of the States (in the Chair):
We now return to the Island Plan as amended. Does any Member wish to speak?
Deputy M. Tadier:
Can I raise the défaut on Deputy Southern please?
The Deputy Greffier of the States (in the Chair):
Do Members agree? The défaut is raised.
I am happy to kick off because like many, I am sure, we finished amendments a little bit earlier last night and it has taken the pressure off and given us time to maybe reflect. Last Monday seems like a long time ago now and I cannot say that I have not enjoyed the fortnight because planning is something that I am passionate about. Why would I not want to get involved in developing how our Island moves forward, and surely it is a job for all of us in this Assembly to try to make our Island a better place. Looking back, I think I was fairly engaged for the first few days and while I did not feel sick to the stomach, like the Minister for the Environment, I certainly had some days towards the end of last week over the weekend where I felt pretty down and I took some reflection. I was, for a couple of days quiet, and did not say anything at all while I thought about the loss of agricultural land and the effects of building more housing in town. As an ex-farmer I know the value of agricultural land for the industry but I also appreciate the value of the countryside to everyone who lives in Jersey. But ultimately we know that we have to provide more homes for more families and it has to be said, in that regard, that we have not done enough and that 375 affordable homes is a long way short of the target we set ourselves back at the beginning of last week. It is also short of the Minister’s original target, so to that end it is disappointing. I cannot win because, whichever way I go, I do not want to build on fields but I am sad that we have not agreed to build on more of them. I am in a difficult spot. But at the end of the day we have to do more to solve this housing crisis because it is just that. It is just as well that this is only a draft bridging plan because it will come back again in 4 years’ time when we will need to do more again at that point. We all know that to make good decisions you need good information. One thing we must have in 4 years’ time is more data because we have in this debate been short of that knowledge and information. How did we ever start this sitting without 2 vital pieces of data. The lack of the census results and the absence of the St. Helier education survey are not just unfortunate mistakes, they are unforgiveable omissions. Why did we allow this to happen? I would like that question answered. There are other challenges that we must not repeat in 4 years’ time. That is the way the housing sites were presented and promoted being one. Next time every site must be published at the same time and everyone must be treated equally so there are no last-minute surprises. But let me, in closing, be more positive and, while I am a little disappointed on an Island scale, on a Parish level it has been a good fortnight and for St. Martin, the Parish I represent, I look back satisfied by the efforts of the last 2 weeks. We have resisted the expansion of the coastal national park into a third of St. Martin, an amendment that had very many of my parishioners extremely concerned They are much happier with a protected area than a park. St. Martin has done their bit and now have a new site for affordable housing and, most pleasing for myself, another site for retired parishioners. There is a lot more I could say. I could talk about La Collette, Buncefield, mineral extraction, the need of light industry, addressing the issues of height in St. Helier and, most importantly maybe, derelict and dilapidated glasshouses, which we will have to come back to. But I am sure others will concentrate on those so I will not go on. On reflection and on balance, and I have used that word a lot in the last 2 weeks because planning is always a balance, I am content with this plan and I am happy to vote it through. In closing, could I thank you, Ma’am, and all the team at the Greffe, in particular the 3 officers who have given us fantastic advice. They are a credit to planning and policy and, finally, can I just say my thanks to the Minister who has undoubtedly worked way beyond the call of duty in the last fortnight. [Approbation]
I am pleased to follow the previous speaker because interestingly enough in my final speech, through this debate, balance is the word that has gone a lot. We all had 2 challenging, fascinating, and I feel successful, 2 weeks of debate. It has gone up and down; it is not easy, as the Deputy of St. Martin mentioned. We went from amendments to amendments and then amendments to amendments and I assume many States Members, at least myself, had a list where a few we are making progress and a few we could make more progress. I will share with Members quickly my views, concerns, consideration, which will guide me for the decision on my final vote.
Let us start with housing supply. As the Deputy of St. Martin mentioned, and it is interesting, we had a target now, 4,162 homes but only 375 for affordable, 42 homes for people with disability, and 45 with over-55s. I think less than 10 per cent of affordable housing, which is the question: what is affordable? It is not enough. I wish we could have done better. On the other side, this figure might be a little bit higher because we adopted the amendment that 50 per cent of future housing development will be affordable. So I assume the affordable housing will be higher than 375. Another point, our predicted housing need is a best well-intentioned guess. We do not yet have the census data. We did not create a credible population policy until it is published. I have a question on how our housing need target has been calculated, and what I would like to understand from the Minister are a bit more details. I understand the formula is complicated. I understand there are several layers. The question that I would ask is, for example, 80 per cent of the current planning applications are work for existing domestic dwellings; extensions, refurbishment, improvements, additional units. Was this 80 per cent calculation in our need for the houses? People moving from one bedroom to 2 bedrooms, but one bedroom became available. Was this considered in our calculation for the housing stock. I think it is important for the States Members. Also it is important for the public, who are listening to the debate, to get a bit more clarity how the number was calculated and what the Minister would suggest as lessons learnt to the next the Minister for the Environment for the next Island Plan about calculation of our housing needs. Personally I feel we should have adopted Senator Moore’s amendment to use derelict glasshouses. Explaining why we rezone open green fields while greenhouses remain unused and derelict or decayed was challenging for me and I think for lots of Members. I am still not clearer how an open field can be of less agricultural importance than a derelict greenhouse. On balance, we support Senator Moore’s amendment to allow flexibility on a new building and the introduction of prefabricated houses building technology, which I regard as progress. About open fields, I am really concerned that we are losing an open field in St. Helier. I am not happy about it and the field in St. John with a population of bats, and I hope the ecological assessment during the planning process will look through it. On balance, we saved 4 other St. Helier fields and several more in other Parishes, where we heard a clear no from parishioners and their representatives. We secured a site for a school, for a country park, for a youth club and made our education estate as an integral part of our planning consideration and voted for more play areas. These are welcome changes for St. Helier and, on behalf of St. Helier residents, I would like to thank you for your votes. Now the work starts. We have to ensure that it is happening and it is implemented and we will not debate another country park in another 3 years. It was on the map for the last 11 years. I wish - and this is again to the Minister, if he can indicate in his closing speech what is the intention - we had more time as a States Member between publishing the inspector’s report to amendments and amendments to amendments to consider and consult. I felt this 2 weeks was too little to digest. We have done it and I understand why, but would the Minister suggest for the next time that it will be changed? I woke up this morning and I had to pinch myself that it was not a dream all my amendments were adopted, all 8, which I am happy, so now residents of our urban and suburban Parishes can access the country Parishes affordable housing development and we have improved the policy for inclusion for people with disabilities. Also by accepting my amendment, hospital traffic arrangements will be looked at holistically and privacy of residents will be considered. I would like to join the Deputy of St. Martin and thank the Greffe and government officers for supporting all of us during this process. It is impossible to make a perfect plan. For me, it is not going far enough, much more is needed to address sustainability, environmental impact and a general holistic approach. On the balance, I feel we have created a better plan that we have now with compromises. It is not easy to compromise because of the passion of all Members from all sides and we have created, I think, a plan with balance and common sense. I am going to listen carefully for the debate and other Members’ views and also the closing speech of the Minister.
I think I was the first to put my light on and you did not notice it. There I was, thinking I was your favourite Constable. [Laughter]
The Deputy Greffier of the States (in the Chair):
Do not let the secret out there, Connétable.
The Connétable of Grouville:
Yes, I agree with a lot of what Deputy Luce said, but I feel obliged to speak because at the Parish Assembly that was called for by requete, there were 3 items which concerned rezoning, but there was also a fourth item, and I will read out the resolution: “To request the Constable to relay to the States Assembly their concerns with the process adopted for the bridging Island Plan and, in particular, their dissatisfaction with the shortness of time available for parishioners to consider carefully the amendments lodged in relation to Grouville.” That was overwhelmingly accepted and I have to say I agree with the sentiment that the last-minute amendments that were brought forward did not allow enough time for proper discussion. The timeline was set out early on and so States Members were aware that we waited for the Planning Inspector, for his report, and then the Minister’s response to that, and so we had a very short window to put those amendments forward, so that was the explanation why it happened. It seems to me that for an Island Plan with such important decisions that the lodging period for amendments should be, I would suggest, a minimum of 3 months from the actual day of the debate, and that would have fitted in with the process this time because it would have just meant the amendments would have been put before the Planning Inspector did what he had to do, so I think improvements can be made there. There was an overall feeling as well about the process, and the Deputy of St. Martin touched on it, about the lack of information and how there are other factors that should be taken into consideration when we are discussing the Island Plan. He mentioned the schools and we had an amendment from Deputy Gardiner about the schools in St. Helier. I wondered if all of the fields in Grouville had been passed. Sadly, none of them have. That was about 200 homes, I think, and how many children of primary school age would there be living in those homes? I have no idea, but probably 30 or 40, which is about 10 per cent of the intake of the school, so that would have had a knock-on effect within the catchment area. Presumably the catchment area would shrink and where would all those children go? Care homes: there was an amendment from Senator Pallett about care homes. I am not sure we have given enough thought to where our care homes are going to be with an ageing population. Hotels have not been mentioned, but Visit Jersey are aiming for 1 million visitors a year and I am not quite sure where they are going to stay. Other infrastructure such as drains, are they capable of having further development in various Parishes? We do not know. Of course the elephant in the room is the population. We passed a policy recently. I did not support it; I did not really think there was much in it. I am not sure it had to come to the States because there was nothing in it that the Council of Ministers should not be doing already and the only real sort of goal in it was to have a dream of net zero inward migration, but I suggest it will remain a dream because dreams only come true if you put some work into it and you need things like a strong policy or strategy, a roadmap and targets. There were none of those of any real merit in that report, so we do not know what our population target is. There are some that think we should have net zero inward migration immediately. I do not think that is feasibly possible because of the economy, but equally I do not think we should have unrestricted net inward migration, which we sort of have at the moment. The last plan I believe was based on an increase in population of people coming here of 350 and we have averaged 1,000. No wonder we have got a housing crisis. The next Government I hope will put some thought as to what our population needs to be. There are obviously considerations with the economy, so if we reduce the amount of inward migration, it is going to have an effect on the economy. That all needs to be balanced by cleverer people than me, so the Parish Assembly was not really supportive of the process. I have to say, like Deputy Luce, the officers have been very supportive. They came to the Parish Assembly, or one of them did, a senior member of the team, and explained the process, which was very helpful. All the way through the Minister for Communities and Housing and the officers leading the programme were proactive in approaching Parishes and Constables and reactive when we approached them for any advice and help, and it was always freely given and in a very timely fashion, so I cannot really thank them enough. I am pleased they are next door. I do not normally like officers being next door when Ministers are bringing mundane propositions or everyday propositions to the States, but I think it was vital that they were there this last fortnight and I am pleased they have been. [Approbation] One thing Deputy Tadier raised, and I think it is an important point, is the uplift in value when land, agricultural land, is rezoned for affordable homes. I do not have the resources to find out exactly what that is, but I know with the De La Mare site, at the time it was probably about £50,000 per house. There are 7 houses on average per vergée, so the value of £10,000 or less for an agricultural field. Because of the calculation where they start off with the selling price, which is affordable - based on median wages of 2 people working together, which I think is about £90,000 - and you work out the mortgage that they can afford, which at the time was, I think, £350,000 for a 3-bedroom house. You can then work back because you know roughly the cost of building that house and you end with this £50,000. That has gone up, in my understanding, because now the affordability of a mortgage has changed because you can get 7 times salary as opposed to 5 times salary, so I would suspect that the uplift from a £10,000 field is probably now £500,000. That to me is too much. I do not agree that we should do like France and just pay agricultural value because that would mean compulsory purchasing, possibly from people who do not want to sell, but I think there could be a happy medium between the 2 figures and maybe the uplift needs to be 10 times, but not 50 times. The Parish Assembly was overwhelmingly opposed to any development on green field sites in the Parish. That was a bit disappointing and Deputy Martin pointed out all the people, and it is a fair representation, they have probably got their own homes, comfortable, affluent, wealthy - I am not quite sure what term one would like to use - and many of them said to me afterwards: “Oh yes, we do need some fields, we understand that, just not these fields.” Maybe we did not get involved enough or I did not consult enough with the Parish, although I was not involved in the site selection. I should have got them more involved because I think some of these fields were the least worst fields to be putting forward. The average age of the Parish Assembly, I am not sure, but it will not be less than 60 and probably approaching 70, and there were no young people that I was trying to find a site for there. There was a couple of youngish people in their mid-30s who I know, but very few young people. It was very disappointing. All the publicity about the meeting, there was something in the Evening Post where I said: “Email me, let me know if you are in the category of the people who are struggling to afford their home.” I only got one email. I will finish with and read it out because I feel I have let this person down, but I got a reply to the email so I will describe - obviously I am not going to say who it is - a bit about their background. Jersey-born, started a family a little bit late because they were concentrating on their careers so that they could afford a child. When they finally had a child, they were living in a one-bedroom flat and the lease agreement banned children. The landlord was understanding and allowed them time to move. They eventually moved. They are now living in Grouville. They pay £1,600 per calendar month, which is a lot of money. They describe themselves as not needing income support and not eligible for it, so it is sort of middle Jersey, I suppose, and we are sort of letting them down. She finishes the second email with: “I hope there will be in the future affordable housing in Grouville.” I quite agree with this next bit: “It’s such a lovely Parish, a real village, but we need to act like a village.”
I will finish with the original email, if I can find it: “I was due to attend the meeting last night, but I felt unwell. I was so very disappointed to read in the local news today how the majority of people were against the proposal. I can’t understand these people. Where is their compassion or empathy for others who need affordable homes? Surely there can be a compromise. Why do we teach our children to share with others, to care for others, to help the people in need when as adults we do not act as good role models? I would like to understand more about the issues and what happens next.” I will leave it there.
We have covered a lot of ground in the last 10 days of debates. Yesterday we were talking about air pollution and it is clear that air monitoring is an area that needs urgent attention, perhaps not an Island Plan issue, but certainly an Environment Department issue. I think, like others, I have learnt a lot about our Island. We all think we know a lot about the Island, but we are still learning. In particular, I learnt about the Grouville wetlands, and I believe that these are important and consideration should be given to added protection to this special area. We heard a lot about balance. I would remind Members it was the Minister for the Environment who brought a proposal for a field, not supported by the J.F.U. (Jersey Farmers’ Union), and that has a rare bat colony residing there. I changed my mind more than once during the debate. The marine national park is something I would like to see, but I listened to the counterarguments about the current position with our neighbours. Glasshouses is another area I wanted to support, but on reflection, I felt the wording of the proposition was not tight enough, albeit the proposal was well-intended. I voted against field S530 due to the environmental notes that were received from the Assistant Minister for the Environment for that site. We heard an apology yesterday from the Constable. I would appreciate the Assistant Minister’s comments on the document he shared about the environmental issues, in particular the source, and if he circulated it as the Assistant Minister or as someone connected to the authors. I do not know about others, but it certainly swayed my views on that particular field. It was interesting hearing the Minister saying that he was doing his job. Well, I would remind him, we have all been doing our jobs, be that representing a district, a Parish or the Island. I would offer my thanks and congratulations to the Minister for the sheer volume of work he has got through in the last 10 days and in the build-up to the debate, not an enviable task, but I think a task that he has carried out very well. As mentioned by others, the officers from Planning have also been excellent in their support to Members. While I have not always agreed with them I think they are also to be congratulated on doing a very good job in unusual and difficult circumstances. I would also like to thank the staff of the Greffe for their help and assistance. The Island Plan debate is so significant. There is so much work that is done, but it still seems rushed. I remember submitting amendments in July and we only debated it yesterday, along with amendments lodged at the end of February. We will be told that the consultation has been exemplary. Let us not forget the impacts of COVID in terms of holding large gatherings. I have all the paperwork in my office. I do not know how environmentally friendly that is. I believe there have been around 3,000 pages written, and I can confirm that I have not been able to read it all. At times, it has been like drinking through a fire hydrant. One observation I would make is that the reserve fields submitted by the Minister may have gone through the Inspectors’ review and may have been on the website, but I do not think there was sufficient publicity given to these fields. While the emphasis of the last 2 weeks has been on rezoning green fields, we really have skated over possibly the most important aspect, and that is Overdale. I will not comment on the merits or demerits of the plan in regards to this, only to say that it is clear to me - and I am sure others - that it has been written with one purpose in mind. The Deputy of St. Martin was right, in my view, and I can say that now that he has supported J371, and that he is right about the need for compromise. It is something we all have to and have had to do. J1109 at Sion is not ideal, in my opinion. However, in compromising, I put down a marker that we will want to create a new heart in Sion and we will want that open space that is promised in this plan to materialise and for the community to have input into its design. I am pleased to hear the Minister’s enthusiasm for community planning. Throughout the debate it has been clear that we have all taken different approaches to this. Whoever takes on the Minister for the Environment’s role could give advice for the next plan and I am sure it is something the Comité des Connétables will be discussing to see if there are templates available in other jurisdictions to ensure good engagement with the public. One thing is for sure, everybody has done their best. Should Parishes pay for professional advice ahead of the next plan? I am aware that some have and others have not. At the inquiry, it felt quite deflating to turn up as a keen amateur, only to see the planning professionals, some with 3 members from the same practice, and literally boxes of information. While I did not manage to read all 3,000 words, I can assure you the professionals would have. I would also like to recognise the work of all the interest groups and thank them for bringing information to our attention. I would particularly like to thank the J.F.U. for their work in advising Members on their view of each field. I am sure I am not the only Member who has found that very helpful as we have gone through the debate. Lessons learnt: we can always improve things, and as my colleague to my right said, he has given us some ideas on how he thinks things could be improved. I would hope that Members and other key stakeholders may be invited to reflect on lessons learnt from this process in order to help improve the process for the next Island Plan. Finally, I would like to thank Members for their support of the 3 amendments that I put forward for St. John. I appreciate that the hard work starts now to ensure we deliver that, but we have a good start.
I just wanted to pick up on a couple of comments raised by the Deputy of St. Martin and Connétable of Grouville, both of whom are absolutely right about the lack of data that we currently collect and currently have, particularly when it comes to information, but also structural needs. I thought the Connétable was absolutely spot on when he said that we have full base projections on 375, inward net migration averaging over 1,000, and no wonder we have a housing crisis. He is absolutely right, that is a matter of basic balance. If the number of people leaving is significantly less than the number of people coming in, there will be an ever-increasing demand on all of our resources. I know this has been said before, and I am sure will be said again and again, but we really need to get a grip on our attitude to population growth. I think we have moved a bit in the last 4 years. I remember having conversations with certain Members of this Assembly in 2018. I was in my kind of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed stage of being a States Member. I was trying to convince Members that we need to stabilise the population and that we could stabilise the population while also supporting the economic activity of the Island and even improving it. I remember a certain Member being completely and utterly against that concept. Those same Members now, I have had the same conversations 4 years down the line and there has been movement there. We might not completely agree on what stabilisation looks like or how quickly we should get there, but I think we now agree that there should be stabilisation. I am really optimistic about the future in terms of our attitude to population growth but I just want to mention that when it comes to the bridging Island Plan and any future Island Plan, until that consistency and firm position has been established, there will always be this issue in these Island Plan debates around resourcing, housing needs and the future. It is an unfortunate position for the Minister to be in, but he cannot be held to account for all of the missing data or the lack of policy position on this. Just reflecting on the policy position that we have taken this term, particularly on population, the Assembly did make demands when they supported P.120, which was the proposition I brought about the data collection - migration and population data it was called - and in part (b) this Assembly asked for the following things: the number of primary and secondary schools, the hospital facility, staff accommodation, affordable homes for first-time buyers and for elderly residents, social housing requirement and some other things, road maintenance and provision of utilities. That was supported by a huge majority. The demand for that data was supported by a huge majority of the Assembly in 2020. If it had been delivered in the Common Population Policy that we recently debated, if those things had been delivered, we would be having a slightly different discussion today, and the bridging Island Plan, I am sure we would have had very many amendments, and rightly so, but I think the conversations would have been very different. The reason I highlight this is because I think the next Assembly, Members of the next Assembly, should really consider their position on adopting policies that do not fulfil criteria that they previously set. It is a difficult position to be in when we were presented with a Common Population Policy that did not deliver the items listed in P.120. There is a lot of empathy and sympathy. We can see that by the majority support and of course I understand why most Members decided to support that policy because it was clear that it was the best we could do and that the mechanisms for the data collection were not yet in place. However, I think in terms of sending a message and being clear about our own position as an Assembly on what we want for our population policy, I think it is really important that for me it made more sense for that to be rejected. Not because there was nothing that was good in it, that is far from the truth, but because I think it is really important that this Assembly is firstly consistent, so if there is a proposition that asks for population data and then that is not delivered, they have not done it, but also now going forward, we have had so many comments in this 2-week debate around the need for a population position and for data, so for me it is important to hold that stance in any relevant debate. If you have a position on a particular thing, population policy being the example in this case, and it relates to a huge number of other policies, that position needs to be maintained in every vote that we have that is relevant to that thing because otherwise we find ourselves in positions like we are with the bridging Island Plan, where people are criticising the Government for not bringing forward data, but a few months ago wholeheartedly supported a policy that did not contain the data asked for. This is not about blame or critique here. We are all doing our best all the time, but it is an observation about consistency of position and about seeing the relationship between a series of propositions. Whether they are from Back Benches, whether they are Members of the Government as private Members or whether they are Government propositions or whether they are the bridging Island Plan, I think being able to connect the dots across all of those things is a really important skill and one that I hope that the Assembly will continue to develop over time because, as I alluded to, if that data had been brought forward, we would have had a very different debate in the last 2 weeks and they are completely interlinked. That is an observation I have made throughout this process. This is a very brief point regarding the use of sites specifically for affordable homes for first-time buyers and for elderly residents. I think that we need to move towards ... and I know that the Minister for Communities and Housing has this view, so I am really excited to see what comes out of that portfolio going forward, but the idea of multigenerational areas is really important. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that multigenerational developments improve well-being for the more vulnerable residents and they are more sustainable, in a sense. They combat loneliness, they nurture community care and it is very good for children to see their parents interact with an older generation and perhaps neighbours who need care and help.
I just wanted to highlight that in response to the Deputy of St. Martin talking about the amendment he won I think yesterday, which is obviously fantastic, but the Island Plan, I think a piecemeal approach is always tricky because you need to consider these wider initiatives from a holistic wholesale kind of perspective, so that was just an example of that. I think what is really interesting about being a member of Scrutiny and then being a Member of Government, and particularly as an Assistant Minister to the Minister for the Environment, is that you get to see both sides of the process. First, I would like to say that all the way through feedback on the process has been really welcome and I know that officers have been listening to Members. I remember having a conversation with the Minister several months ago about making a slight change to the process in response to demands of Members, Backbenchers, and we made that change, so I hope Members do feel that ... I accept that they have a critique of the process and we welcome the feedback on that, but equally I do hope that Members see that throughout this particular process we have strived to respond to feedback in a more immediate way and have made improvements along the way. A final observation before I briefly talk about the Minister’s work. There is a strong tension between an objective adherence to a set of principles of best practice when it comes to an Island Plan, there is a tension between that and the emotional or passionate views regarding certain fields or zones or lanes and other things. I think of course the debate of Members’ amendments to the Island Plan is itself the manifestation of that tension and it is absolutely right that Members are able to exercise their democratic right to bring forward amendments regarding areas that they are passionate about. I think that that tension has played out in this debate format and it is very, very welcome. I think that there probably is an understanding, but I certainly have gained a greater understanding being an Assistant Minister for the Minister for the Environment of that dual need to kind of objectively adhere to best practice and provide an Island-wide plan, i.e. a holistic view of the Island and to present a plan that is aligned with the best practice planning standards that we have chosen to follow. Alongside that, that should, in my view, now that I have gone through process on this side of the fence, it has to be balanced and allowed to be challenged by the subjective and passionate views of local Parish representatives. I think that is a really healthy process, albeit tense and difficult at times, but I hope Members see that that tension exists and that is the rationale for some of our positions, some of the positions that my Minister has taken and some of the positions I have ended up taking in this debate, which I perhaps would not have taken as a Back-Bencher, but having that inside track and that best practice, it has been an interesting shift, which is just an observation I thought was worthy of sharing. The amount of work in the development of this has obviously been almighty and both officers and the Minister have put a huge amount of effort and work into this process. I do think that the Assembly, I am sure, would like to show their appreciation and approbation for the Minister, who is sitting through this 2-week debate alone. Can you imagine if you had lodged a proposition and then it lasted 2 weeks and you had to deal with 60-odd amendments? I think it is an almighty feat, so I do just want to offer my congratulations and thanks for the Minister for that. I will leave it there.
I will just start by echoing some of the comments that have been made regards the work of the officers. We may not have agreed everything that has come forward in the plan, but I absolutely do agree that the work being put in by officers next door, who have stayed and done the hours in this Assembly, like many of us have, and been around to talk to and approach with questions and clarifications is really important. I think it has assisted this debate, as opposed to at times we have had officers in the building that we have had real issues with, but perhaps it is a model of the way to work with the civil service, so I would like to thank them for that. I always try to think about positives and negatives with this. It is such a wide-ranging debate. I think I am going to finish with the positives so we end on a positive note, it is always a nice thing to do, but I do need to mention some of the things and the concerns I have had first of all over this plan and the debate. I think it was the Constable of St. John who mentioned “process” as a word, and I think that word is so important; process. There is something ideological in me that says if a process is so good then we would not really need that many amendments and we would not need to be bringing things forward. I think we all need to think about that because none of ... well, some maybe, but I am certainly not a town planner or a planner, who have that experience. My role is to represent constituents and represent this Island as best I feel possible and stick to the principles that I put out when I was elected. That is what I hope we have done. I was really concerned, and I think we have missed an opportunity with the marine park and the protection of a specific area. I do say that I think we will regret that in coming years and I think we need to go away and think carefully about that and the way in which we can bring that forward. I think that debate became confused with the current situation with fishing and relations and perhaps is a victim of Brexit, like so much else has been, but I think we need to go and look at that. That is about future-proofing. This Island Plan is a vision Island Plan, so we have got time, in 3 years, to come up with something else, and I do say that I think we will be able to offer something better in Government. That future-proofing did not happen in some real key areas. We took a very consistent line and we have taken the criticism in its truest sense, I hope, as well as the petty criticism, which we can ignore, over having a stand and saying: “You can build on as many green fields as you want, you can build on all of the green fields” but if those homes are not affordable ... and I will just pick on one of my positives and sort of insert it here. I am really pleased to hear that we are using the language of “homes” because language is so important. I know units and property have been used, but if you go back through the Hansard - and I am certainly not going to do that - I think the majority of the time the word “home” has been used and that is a very different dynamic and I am very pleased to see that happening. But anyway, the futureproofing of those homes, you can build on every single green field, and if we do not get right affordable homes on States-owned land, we are going to be back here in 3 years just looking at more green fields and more green fields and less space for the population to live in. There was an opportunity missed, and I am disappointed that an amendment was brought to Senator Mézec’s amendment about affordable homes being built on States-owned land. We should not be working as a property developer. If the only way that we can raise money to improve the realm in which people live as a Government is to sell off the gold and the silver and the Crown jewels of this Island then we have fundamentally got our economics wrong, so that is one issue I think that I must raise. The other omission I think is around the Passivhaus standards. That is future-proofing. That is looking ahead. It is one of many things we need to do. I am slightly reassured by the changes in bylaws that will come forward, but there seem to be lots of gaps in what we are doing here. Futureproofing the building of homes is so important in terms of their energy consumption, their energy use and the long-term impact they have on our planet. That is something that again we will regret if we do not get right now. I mentioned a couple of times that I think this is ... and the Minister will probably be really cross with me over this, but that is okay. I know the Minister can get cross and we can still have a chat at the end, so that is okay, but I still see this is, to some extent, a developer’s charter. The reason I say that is because there are spaces. It is this phrase I mentioned yesterday. If I am honest, it is eating away at me, this planning contribution. As a representative of St. Helier, I know that if you simply say to developers: “You can develop and you can build and if you cannot find a space for a place space or a green space, that is okay. Make a contribution and we will find it somewhere else” because that is not realistic and then that space has gone and we will never see it again. That is one of the problems I have with the focus on just large parks. I will talk about Millennium Park in a moment. Millennium Park and country park, just build 2 big parks. That is sort of free rein for this planning contribution to go into full force and planners to say: “Look, hey, we can build this. That is okay because we will make a contribution towards the park. Do not worry about that, we will put some new swings in. That will be lovely. We will make sure the swings are always in good condition, so let us build.” I am afraid modern cities, modern towns, futureproofed, build in those green spaces as we go. If that means that those homes, you miss a couple out or you have to build them differently, then so be it. You have to do it. Leadership is about difficult decisions. I have stood in this Assembly and I thankfully got agreement to say that we are not simply going to extend the park all the way through because there is another desperate need in St. Helier for schools. I am quite happy to stand here and say take some of that green space that could be green space and build a school for our children and their futures so they have a green space to be educated in. I am quite happy to take it on the chin over that. The response I am getting with people, when they are listening to the argument, they are understanding where we are coming from and saying: “You have got a very good point here. We need to do this and then we need to look at replacing green spaces around town as we build, and not just making it a planning contribution somewhere else.” I am very concerned about that. It is something that keeps coming back into my mind when I talk about it. I want to congratulate Deputy Gardiner on her proposition on place space. This morning, one of those things happened to all of us, you bring a proposition forward and you get it agreed and then the radio clip is somebody else’s speech. This morning Deputy Gardiner was a victim of that, because they clipped me. I have to be fair in my approach and say yes, I did approve it and they clipped me. It was a lovely little bit of P.R. (public relations), but well done, Deputy Gardiner, for thinking about that place space because that is really important. That is really important, but it is about implementation of that, it is about if we are going to say it has to be within 5 minutes’ walk or 500 metres unless you cannot do it, I still ... again, that is your planning contribution coming back again, unless you cannot do it: “Well, as a developer, I am afraid we cannot do it. Oh, that is okay then, we will do it somewhere else.” We must not do that and we have to have our priorities right. I do share as well the concerns over the lack of knowledge. We do not have the census data. We do not know how many empty homes there are, and I will stand here again and say we are not going to vote for green field after green field after green field when we do not know how many empty homes there are out there and we are not using all of the land that we own for affordable homes. That is a principle that we need to all seriously think about because it does not work. In the long term, it will fail, so we have to look at that. The future risks to the Island: one of the future risks is the coming election. Some groups, whatever they want to call themselves, seem to be talking about us having a town and a capital that is hugely densely populated and we have got to be so careful about that. When we discuss population we have to do so and take the really difficult decisions on population and the reality of this being a small Island. That is not easy for any of us, but we have to do it, but that is in the weeks to come. The positives: the protection of spaces in St. Helier desperately needed for schools and a youth facility, and perhaps in my time, who knows, I may see it happen. What a marvellous day that will be, what a marvellous experience that will be, to see some sort of facility built. There are some small steps to affordable housing, some small steps, a minimum of 15 per cent. Can I say to the Minister, please put the word “minimum” in bold and in capitals in whatever it is that you do, underline it, put it italics - I do not know what you do - but just emphasise it, please. The protection of those green fields in many cases we have decided. It is difficult sometimes.
We are having questions all the time now to not build on green fields, even though some of the arguments seem so simple and obvious, but they are not when you look at them in the wider picture. That use of the term “homes” is so important because unless we have homes where people can live, afford, heat, cool down in the summer, have space for their children to play, have space to sit outside and meet your neighbours and build communities again, and that is the beautiful thing about Jersey, there are communities. I will finish up by saying that the road I live in, I have seen change over the last few years because we have been there quite a few years now and generations have moved on and now there are lots of young children running about and playing, and it is just wonderful. You can see the next generation coming through, but still they face traffic and they face pollution that we do not monitor and they have schools that are not well-equipped enough. While I am in this Assembly, I will continue to have a voice for those people who need those facilities because if we do not build for that generation coming to the future, then we do not build for our generation. I will not make myself unpopular by saying to some people in the Assembly “and your generation” but I will have to face up to the fact I will qualify for over-55 homes soon, so we all have to face up to those things. I would like to say thank you to the Minister. He has worked his socks off sat there with his big screen and his computers and his vast amount of paperwork and he has been in this Assembly through this time to talk this through and I think that is a very important thing. [Approbation] We may not have agreed on everything and we may have given him a hard time at times, but you know what, that is partly our job as well, so I am sure we can do that because you have got to have these debates. This may not be the best way to do this because we are all suddenly having debates that are a little hard, but I will come to an end point, and on the balance, I think we still have far to go. It is a bridging plan. I think we could do better in the future and it is the principles behind what we are doing and the themes underneath it and where we want to see our Island going that is important in the long term. Thank you, and I will leave it there.
I will try first to quickly answer the question of the Constable of St. John. All the Members received an email from me mentioning nature and ecology. It was difficult for me to write this but I think it was very, very important. Many Members might know that I am a bona fides environmentalist. I have the spent the last 15 years before becoming a politician working as a professional wildlife photographer and I have very, very deep links with all the professional ecologists in the Island. I spent 10 years working very, very hard with Durrell. I even flew some of their animals around. It is something that I am very deeply involved - at least was - with. It is something that I have had to somewhat let go with my new position, even though one of my positions in the States is Assistant Minister for the Environment. We found ourselves in the middle of a number of crises, one of them being writing an Island Plan, but of course you all remember COVID and Brexit, but it is funny that we have almost forgotten OneGov. We spent the first 3 years of this Government with the civil service in turmoil, everybody losing their job, having to reapply, being moved around, not knowing what they would do next. Those were quite a few difficult years and if we wanted to achieve anything we did have to compromise, we did have to select what we wanted to do. Our planning system is not very good for the natural environment and I would like to make the difference because it is not something that is very well-understood in Jersey. The natural environment is for nature, it is not for humans. When you look at it, you do not think: “Oh, we want the natural environment to suit us and we are going to design it to suit us”, it is nature comes first. It has to be balanced, it has to be biodiverse, it has to work by itself before we can enjoy it. It is not something that we do very much in Jersey and I do hope - and I will mention this a little bit later on - that it is something that we will work on in the next Island Plan and certainly when we revisit the planning law, which definitely needs a lot of work. We might move a few things around to make sure that the natural environment is something that we take better care of, but I will come back to that. Of course the next step - and I am sure that the Minister will spend some time on this - is to thank the officers who have worked on this. I will go a little bit deeper on it very, very soon, but again, I think of the business as usual that they have to do while doing this, the fact that they had to deal with Brexit, which meant that almost all the laws to do with natural resources had to be changed, food laws, invasive species, everything had to be changed, so a massive amount of work there. They were involved with COVID. Many of our planners worked with tracing and testing and everything at the same time as we had a massive number of new planning applications and complaints. The lockdown started a fashion for complaining about your neighbours, which multiplied, and of course we had tackle all this, so all this at the same time as they worked on the Island Plan. We will get to that very soon. I would like to thank the Greffe because this was unbelievable, 107 amendments on a very complex piece of work, and they managed to make it work. I think the fact that we managed to do it in 2 weeks and the fact that it was in the right order, that things happened when they should have is extraordinary. I would not be able to do it. We looked at it and it was unimaginable to see all these things and say: “Okay, if this one is decided first, than that one falls so maybe we should move them there, but this one would then affect that one.” It worked out, it worked out. They did it and it worked out, and every morning we came to a list of what would come next and what we would have to argue next and debate. This was really extraordinary and I think the Minister and I are massively, massively grateful to the Greffe for that. [Approbation] I would like to thank the Members. I think this debate was very good. I have mentioned it a couple of times and sometimes it is difficult to accept, but there is a wisdom to the Assembly and I think we have used this, we have used that wisdom in those 2 weeks. The compromises were made and we have reached something that is workable and that is quite extraordinary. Again, I very often lose faith on this particular aspect, but these 2 weeks showed me that it can exist and it is indeed in this Assembly. I would like to thank the Minister. I think there is something that we forget, and I mentioned it once during the debate. This is a summary. This is a very, very short, abridged summary of what the Island Plan is. The Island Plan starts with an evidence base: the Jersey Integrated Landscape and Seascape Character Assessment; the Jersey Coastal National Park Boundary Review; the Historic Environment Review; the Employment Land Study; the Objective Assessment of Housing Need Report; the St. Helier Urban Character Appraisal; the Public Realm and Movement Strategy, 3 stages of that; the Jersey Landscape Sensitivity Assessment; the St. Helier Open Space Survey and then audit; the St. Brelade Character Appraisal; the Infrastructure Capacity Study; the Minerals, Waste and Water Study; and the Jersey Strategic Flood Risk Assessment. Have we forgotten that one? Assessments of site, all those sites that were proposed or were needed for anything were assessed, housing, protected and natural spaces, employment land, community facilities. All this then went through a sustainability appraisal. Of course we had an in-committee debate, which was also reviewed and assessed, and then a massive, massive amount of consultation. There again, it is something easy to forget, but those officers were out in the Parishes, they were on Teams, they were in the Town Hall receiving hundreds and hundreds of people, reading hundreds and hundreds of letters to bring all this consultation together and finally a public inquiry, which is a massive amount of work, which we then have to review. There is only one person in this building who has read all of these and knows them intimately. That is one person that managed to read those thousands and thousands of pages of documents so that he would be ready to answer all of your questions in the last 2 weeks. I think we need to pay homage to that. That is quite important. Finally, here is what is missing: in the middle of all this turmoil, we knew that it would be impossible to complete an Island Plan that would work for the next 10 years. We also knew that we would miss some data that would be quite important and while there was going to be an economic crisis; we still do not know which direction it is going. It is getting even worse of course with the recent developments, so it was very, very difficult to say: “We are going to give Jersey a direction for the next 10 years” so we decided to make it shorter. What I would like to see for the next plan is as much as possible not to revisit the things that we have done properly. We have done a lot of stuff really well this time and I do not think we need to revisit that, but there are things that are really important. Of course, number one is the census. We need to integrate our population data with this really properly. The school plan: Members will know very well why I am upset about this not being on time, but it is a very difficult piece of work and unfortunately we will not have it. I would love to see something done with glasshouses. I do not think that just building homes on them is the solution, but it is something that we should be able to progress. We need to work on the parks. I have said quite vehemently that the Island Plan is not the right place to put that, but we need them. It is something that we definitely need. We need a real existing statutory coastal national park and we need a real existing statutory marine park, so it is definitely something that we will do or the next Assembly will have to do. Of course, as much as possible, I would like the environment, the real environment, nature, to be integrated in that plan much, much better, to be integrated in the planning law much, much better.
I am delighted to come after the last speakers because it has saved me an awful lot of things I needed to say. I just also want to start off by thanking the Minister and his team and the team of the Greffe in terms of the resilience everybody has displayed in terms of guiding the Assembly through the whole process, but particularly in the last 2 weeks. I have to say for the Minister, I think that has been an extraordinary example of stamina and a demonstration of knowledge and his experience in his former lives in the past, to use a well-quoted phrase. My takeaway, Deputy Guida has covered a whole range of things, but ultimately we know, as I said, we have challenges around housing. This does represent an increase in housing which we know is incredibly important. I think the other takeaway is the Assembly has sent a very clear message about its reluctance in general, not entirely, but to build on green field sites and for me I think that will need to be taken on board in future plans. I will say 2 further things, hopefully not too controversial and they are probably about looking ahead. As I said previously in one of the debates, I think it was last week, in my view we have got 2 choices in terms of the development in housing. We either go out or we go up, and to me the latter is by far the most preferable, particularly if we want to preserve the green areas, the environment and the ecology and also what is a significant part of what makes Jersey a fantastic place to live, despite the challenges that we know to exist. That has been supported in this plan. Obviously it needs good-sized units, homes, it needs good quality amenity space and good construction and design.
I agree absolutely with the comments in relation to data. I see the Deputy of St. Peter will be speaking shortly after me. I hope he will pick up on that a lot but I just will repeat my comments I have made a couple of times during the last few weeks, that we, rightly, as an Assembly and as a Government, recognise the absolute independence of the chief statistician and of Statistics Jersey and therefore, as I have said on a number of occasions, no matter how much one would like it, the time of the release of data is not under the control of Ministers. Yes, we are all very, very interested in understanding the census data and we will all want to see it, but the release of that data and the timing of that release of any data that comes out from statistics is not under our control. Looking ahead, the education plan obviously will all be reported. It is my intention it should be out before the elections, but just looking at the estate for the future and picking up one area, which does figure in the very late years of the present Government Plan, and I will pick on Highlands, for example. That is going to require significant investment in the future and, in my view, part of the assessment that does need to take place needs to explore whether different locations are appropriate, the ability to regenerate St. Helier, of reduced traffic and provide future housing. That all has to be a consideration when we are looking at that site and some of the other education sites that are being considered. A further challenge for the future will be what is often referred to as La Collette 2, which again has been considered in this plan, but if we look 30 years ahead from now, in size, it is probably two-thirds the size of central St. Helier. It will require very significant and very careful planning, including the fact that obviously the industrial nature of the site does presently perform a hugely important function and will need to be retained, but equally, could it be a significant extension to the residential areas of town, if you like, Jersey’s second city? But that is looking way forward and fairly obviously will have quite a few challenges. Despite the various differences we have, we must remember we do represent a fantastic Island and a fantastic place, and these 2 weeks, although they have been difficult, have resulted in I think what can be described as a workable plan, but Deputy Guida has covered off a lot of that. I think it is worth making the point, because the whole point of the bridging Island Plan is part of setting a framework for the future of the Island. Obviously the nature of this particular bridging one is in the shorter period of time. We have emerged from the pandemic in a good place, relative to many other jurisdictions. COVID is still with us. Obviously we also have the catastrophic war started by Russia in Ukraine, so this Island therefore has a number of challenges ahead, both short, medium and long term, but it has some significant opportunities as well. I think we are well-placed to exploit those, particularly as part of our experience, and as we have demonstrated in the pandemic about how we can move swiftly and in an innovative manner when we put our minds to it. That is absolutely relevant to how we deal with some of the challenges in this bridging Island Plan. What I would just like to finish by saying, again reiterating my thanks very much to the Minister, to his team, to the team of the Greffe and to Members of the Assembly for how we have come through the last couple of weeks, but I do believe we have the opportunity and the ability to tackle the challenges I have referred to and that by tapping into the entrepreneurial and Island spirit that really engenders the Island of Jersey, which I feel we are all privileged to represent. On that note, I thank you, Ma’am, and your team for all the efforts that have taken place.
I regret that I have spent the vast majority of this debate in COVID isolation - others might not - when it would have been my preference to be in the cut and thrust of the Chamber. Two of the days I was malade, but lay on my sofa listening, such is my commitment to this debate. I prefer not to speak from behind a screen; I do not think it is an ideal forum. It certainly does not compare with being in the Assembly, so it has been a long fortnight of listening in isolation. Before I continue, I really must, along with others, extend my appreciation and thanks to the Minister for his assistance, particularly for the patience and dedication of the officers. I know they have been inundated with requests from us and they have always been answered quickly, in short notice and very agreeably. It has been a tough job and they have conducted it exceptionally well. I am afraid I must mention population. The Constable of Grouville and others have absolutely nailed it and highlighted the tensions that we must overcome. In summary, if we freeze inward migration suddenly, the economy suffers and our ability to provide essential services - health, education and so on - and also our ability to staff those essential services and also the services required for hospitality, agriculture and so on could be impacted seriously. Conversely to that, if we continue as is, our environment and the quality of life suffers. This is the major tension that we are all confronting. Many have complained, innumerable people have complained, and I have heard even some more today, but no one has come to me, either privately or publicly, with any viable short-term solutions. No silver bullet, nothing from anyone. I think that is testament to how complicated this challenge is. I must mention, and I appreciate the comments that have come from many people out there who really appreciate this, and appreciate the efforts that have been put in to try to solve this very complex problem. As I said to the media, if we had done what is in this policy 10 or 15 years ago, we would be having a totally different conversation today, but we did not, so we have no option but to start now with the fundamental building blocks and to remind Members that those building blocks are based around improved productivity, primarily through technology, and making informed decisions based on near real-time data. Anyhow, back to the Island Plan. I feel we have all picked up on the many inconsistencies which are inevitable when we have 102 amendments from independent Members bringing, speaking and voting on their own personal bugbears and passions. I am guilty. It is only natural and to be expected. The problem is the process. All processes must be geared to have an outcome, not a predetermined outcome, of course, but a consistent, strategically-considered outcome. Some Members will have heard my analogy; to them I apologise. This plan is like having a number of jigsaw puzzles, let us say 4. We have taken a handful of pieces from each puzzle, shuffled them together and tried to make a complete puzzle. Imagine the outcome and what that puzzle would look like. I do not have the solution, but I want to work to find it, a way of making informed strategic decisions that equally and fairly meet the needs of everyone we serve. I will of course be supporting the plan.
Time is an extraordinary thing. Only 2 weeks ago I was fresh-faced with very little grey hairs, now look at me. Time is also an extraordinary thing: 4 weeks ago the invasion of Ukraine started. That is a month ago today. Four years ago some of us were starting and thinking about coming forward to represent the parts of the Parishes they wanted to represent and stand in the election. I of course was one of those, and in doing so, in the Parish District 1 of St. Saviour, there was only one person I wanted to talk to first off, who had stood and served the Parish district so well after many years. That was the former Deputy, of course a good school friend of my dad, the former Minister for the Environment, Rob Duhamel. Knowing full well that the Island Plan would come under the 4-year tenure of this sitting Assembly, I sat with him and he said: “I can only afford you 10 minutes, Deputy” and 4 hours later, still sitting with him. I took away many, many things. I walked away thinking I had a better understanding of the 4 years ahead of me. In some regards I was right, but these last 2 weeks have proven not so much. However, he was right. He was so ahead of his time on many things when it came to the aspects of the environment and I thought many times during this debate about what he may have said. Of course what I had not realised, after also visiting my district recently in St. Saviour District 1, I have probably taken on too many of those wise words he said literally. I have cycled into work for the last 2 weeks, I have started to grow my own vegetables with my daughter and I seem to have grown a tribute beard in response as well. However, I have thought a lot about the environmental impacts that he emphatically stood for and that are very meaningful to my children and those of the future generations, and in turning to this Island Plan debate, it still, I think, leaves far more questions without answers for future generations. I wish to hear from the Minister for the Environment in his summing up about what he wants to hand over from his experience and his knowledge and tenure and this experience of the last 2 weeks for the future generations to come, who will come into this Chamber, not just the next election, the next election and the next election to come, because it is that generation of this Island that we are custodians of. We have to do a better job to make sure that when they do inherit this Island ... it is an Island of course that we have enjoyed over the years growing up. It is on that that I want to hear because the last 2 years especially have unrooted us all and given us a moment globally to reflect about how we go about our daily lives, how we take responsibility for the things that we all believe in and stand for in ways that none of us could possibly have imagined. In a crisis, you cannot escape, you cannot hide. Everything is exposed, the good and the bad things, and I have said that before. It also gives us the opportunity to do things differently. We had to; we have to. I want to hear more again from the Minister for the Environment - because I know he feels very passionately about this Chamber and the States Assembly - of what have we learnt, how has this made us challenge our convictions of how we do design and plan? Because I believe there has been a tension throughout the whole process, but naturally it wants to evolve even further, so how can we go about doing that in the future, that we deliver an Island Plan and a process that is appropriate to the times that we live in now that we respect the past and hold on to the things that we hold dearly, but understand that we must do things differently? I look forward to hearing that from the Minister from his speech. It is no surprise to Members that I will mention this, of course, that my passion and my big driver for the last 4 years has been my commitment to improving the Island’s mental health services that we all deserve. Often when I speak to people about this and they come for my advice, they want to talk to me or offload or share my experiences on a personal level, generally speaking somewhere in the mix in terms of mental health it is about the pressures that we all fear. We all want to be there for our family, our loved ones, and support them, but we cannot get away from the growing pressure of the cost of living and the house prices and rent. Something we have not heard too much about is the renting Islanders who are under continual pressure, as much as everybody. I still think we could do better. I have said this before to the Minister privately, we have done this when we have just done an Island census, we have just gone through a pandemic which has shifted this Island. We do not have that data, and I know - and it is quite right - they are independent and should be allowed to work without the pressures of certainly this Assembly so much and the Government saying: “You must provide this.” However, it has not sat right with me about this whole process. That information is there and it is coming together and we have just made decisions for the next 3 years and when that data comes through, in a few weeks’ time, what if there is something in there so in 3 years’ time we have to maybe throw things out? We can do better than that, surely. We did that in 2 weeks, where we were turning around legislation for public health, which I do not think we would ever achieve in normal times. That is all I wanted to say. I join in the tributes to others and I think of others who I sit on the shoulders, who have sat in these chairs before me and I wonder about the future and what their reflection will be in 20, 30, 40 years to come.
I think it has been quite a remarkable debate in many ways. Whatever the imperfections of the plan turn out to be, we can at least say that it has received extensive debate and scrutiny since we began the process.
It has also been somewhat remarkable because it is quite remarkable that we have all got back together in this Assembly and have been stuck in close proximity for the last 2 weeks. I think it has made up for all the absences we have had, but if I said I had enjoyed being here for 2 weeks, that is probably close to the truth, but it really is the dynamic, the importance of being in the Assembly I think is shown in debates like this. I am not being critical of Members that cannot be here. It just is really important that we are here. It is good to back in the coffee room and chatting and eating too many biscuits and doing some networking and discussing all sorts of important issues, and I think that just demonstrates the value and the importance of this Assembly. It has been for me, like I say, interesting. I think we have made some good decisions. I am very disappointed obviously about the marine park. I was quite optimistic about that. I think Senator Gorst made quite an important speech which swayed a lot of Members and we did not get it over the line on this occasion, but I very much hope it is something we can continue to aspire to; so disappointed about that. Very relieved, for example, that La Gigoulande Quarry is not going to be extended because of just the huge impact that would have had on the landscape and homes in the area. I want to just pay my own tribute to the Minister for the Environment, Deputy Young, and let us face it, it is a bit of a rollercoaster working with Deputy Young, and I can say that, having worked closely with him - and it is in a complimentary way I am saying this - throughout the pandemic. Fellow Ministers and Members will know what I am talking about. If he is not satisfied just with dealing with the Island Plan over the last couple of weeks, we are still getting emails from him at 10 p.m. at night, quite chunky ones, several paragraphs, on all sorts of different issues not related to the Island Plan. I pay tribute to his extraordinary capacity for attaining the knowledge required to manage such a debate and for the vigour with which he has delivered it. Of course the officers, there are a number of officers, but 2 in particular, who between them I think have written just about every word of the Island Plan and they have such extensive knowledge. It has been most helpful having them on hand to explain the pros and cons of a lot of the amendments. Deputy Ward mentioned one in particular amendment where we agreed that something had to be done unless it cannot be done. I do not really like the word “cannot.” When people who I work with say: “I cannot do that” I tend to say back to them: “You mean you will not do it. You could do it, or you could say: ‘I can do it’ but what you are saying is: ‘I will not’.” And there is a difference between “cannot” and “will not.” It is worth remembering that lots of things that cannot be done have been done and they have been done very well indeed. I think if we take that approach to this plan it will be a great success.
I rise briefly only to agree with previous speakers regarding the support from the Greffe, particularly when it comes to last minute - and I have been very guilty of submitting some last-minute amendments and work to them - which they have turned around with rapid efficiency, which would not happen, I am sure, in other places. My focus on this Island Plan has been very much in my Parish, as Members will know, on St. Brelade’s Bay in particular, and I thank Members for listening to my amendments; some were successful but some not so, but the focus really was on ensuring that our visitor economy is retained and the retention of hotels, in my view, is so terribly important to the Island, not only for visitors but the trickledown economic effect that they have. I thank Members for their support and I do hope that I have made a marker with regard to that particular element of the hospitality industry that will not get overlooked in the future, which is terribly easy to do. I thank Members for their attention.
Mine will be very brief. I really just want to, having done a few of these speeches for various things, thank Deputy Young for a phenomenal effort in bringing this. It is a marathon. I keep thinking of him standing there in a Blackadder role saying: “I have a wonderful plan here to bring you” and yourself or the Bailiff saying: “Is it a cunning plan? Is it as cunning as a fox who has just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University?” I do not think it was a cunning plan in any way. It was a very upfront plan. He was very accepting if there was any criticism. He spoke before and during the debate and he was very openminded, and I think that is fantastic. One of the great things for me that came out of the debate was a love of the Island. I think nearly every speaker demonstrated a great love of the Island and I think too often these days, not just in the Assembly, in fact away from the Assembly, in the press, we do not have that love coming through. We are almost in despair of the Island, and I think that is a shame. We saw it this week with the P.&O. work. It is a terrible situation that went on with P.&O., and the first thing that some people jumped up and said was: “Well, this is Jersey’s fault, because the contracts were in Jersey” and it turned out it was not Jersey’s fault at all. The chairman stood up and said that what he did was illegal and absolutely disgraceful, but the first thing that people did was to try to knock Jersey and I think we must move away from knocking Jersey because, as this debate has shown, it is a wonderful place and people are willing to fight very hard to preserve it as the wonderful place it is. On that note I will just leave with a quote from Sanchita Pandey who said: “Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have.”
The Deputy Greffier of the States (in the Chair):
Before we move to the next speaker, I know that Deputy Young needs to keep his energy resources high, but Standing Order 99(3)(b) does say that no food or drink should be consumed within the Assembly. I would just remind you of that. [Aside]
Indeed, for the Minister, it has been a marathon. Yes, I would like to start by personally thanking the officers of the Environment Department and S.P.P.P. (Strategic Policy, Performance and Population) who have helped compile this bridging Island Plan, marshal the evidence, and who have been here throughout the last 2 weeks of debate. Their help is greatly appreciated and I know others have said the same but I just wanted to say that as well, and the same for the staff of the Greffe. I think it has been amazing work on all your parts, the running order that we are provided with has helped this move smoothly for 2 weeks and really did help us a great deal and of course the Minister, the marathon Minister, as he can now be called. He has sat here sneaking drinks and food over the last 2 weeks but in doing so he has kept himself here in the Chamber hour after hour and it has been a real effort on his part, and he has done amazingly. He has taken some bumps and bruises on the way incredibly graciously. I have been one of those bumping and bruising people and he has done so incredibly graciously. He has lost, he has won, he has drawn from time to time, and he has done so with a smile on his face throughout. It is an incredibly difficult job and I would like to thank him for having stood his ground and done it. Turning to the Island Plan, I know there is lots that can be gone over that people have already said, but I said it during the debate, that I am concerned about the lack of provision for employment land in the Island Plan. I think as an Assembly we are in danger of forgetting that without a high-performing economy we cannot afford many services, we cannot afford many protections, we cannot afford many facilities, so we do need to keep our eye on making it possible to enable and facilitate business in this Island. Without it we have very little. I think Deputy Ash just now quite rightly talked about Jersey’s entrepreneurial spirit. Absolutely right, it is that spirit that has got us through centuries and centuries of being a small outpost of the British Isles in this tiny little Island. We are remote, we are a tiny Island. Those are fantastic attributes in so many ways, but it does mean that we have to keep moving, we have to keep changing, we have to be flexible, and we have to keep trading with the rest of the world. I am concerned, and I will maintain my concern, that this Island Plan does not make that easier. It does not enable those things and that does concern me, and I look forward to an Island Plan in 3 years’ time that will hopefully correct that balance. I believe, and I agree with the Chief Minister, that the States has sent a message about green field sites. It has said: “While maintaining a balance I do believe we have a reasonable balance between providing new homes in the countryside, but we have not gone to the level of targets that the Minister for the Environment had set” and I believe that in itself is a message saying here are some green fields, here is some housing, we know that it is needed, but the States does not believe that the work has been done to adequately see how far we can exploit States-owned sites, we can exploit brownfield sites, we can exploit green field sites, we can exploit unused properties. That is for me the biggest weakness in this Island Plan and I said it during the debate, and it is where I was perhaps most bruising towards the Minister, was in that sense that the evidence does not speak to me and many other States Members that those areas have been adequately and sufficiently looked at. It is a simple balance. I discussed it with Deputy Ward, who sits next to me in the Chamber, a number of times. When you build on a green field site that green field is lost for ever. So the idea that there are alternatives that have not been looked at properly is the sticking point, and it is the bit that we need to have satisfied in this Chamber before we can say: “Yes, you know what? We have to go to green field sites; that is the only place.” I think every single States Member can think of a site that they know is an unused area of property in Jersey that is not being exploited properly or used efficiently and as long as we all have those thoughts in our head it becomes very difficult to deliver the kind of targets that the Minister for the Environment talked about. I really hope that the next Ministers for the Environment and Planning address that issue, otherwise they will find themselves, I have a funny feeling, in exactly the same position where targets are not being met, because the Assembly does not feel that alternative sites have been looked at properly. I do apologise, I cannot remember which States Member mentioned it, but for me it has been a real issue, a thorn in my side. Land is one of the scarcest resources we have in Jersey and it is therefore one that we need to use as efficiently as possible. The trouble is that we are not doing that and I believe one of the problems that we have here is there is nothing in this Island Plan or the last Government Plan that captures any of the value-added that we have bestowed upon people. We have, as I said in a previous debate, provided a lottery ticket, and it was the Connétable of Grouville who brought this up earlier in today’s debate, we have handed out effectively lottery tickets to various property owners around the Island, winning lottery tickets, guaranteed winning lottery tickets, to various property owners in this Island. That is fair enough, but we have not in any way sought to properly capture some of that value for the public good. We have the sustainable communities fund, or that sort of thing. It is not enough. I really hope the Minister for the Environment and his team take that back, and the Minister for Treasury and Resources also, because we need to capture some of that value in these properties, in my opinion. Talking about community facilities, during the last week I had a parishioner contact me, not a parishioner from St. Lawrence but a parishioner from one of the other Parishes that I will seek to be representing after the elections, but an Islander contacted me, pointing out a site that had been built some time ago where community facilities were promised as part of the planning application and the site was then built and at some point the developer had turned back around to the Planning Department and said: “You know what? This site does not work for these community facilities” and the community facilities were quietly dropped, and that site was then fully developed as apartments. There were no community facilities included. That is something that cannot happen. I think the Connétable of St. John has said, quite rightly, especially with regard to field 1109, we need to make sure that community facilities accompany all of these sites. It is not good enough to just build villages in the countryside where there is not a focal point for the community; it is just not right. Whether that focal point is some sort of restaurant or hospitality facility, whether it is an area of open ground that can be used by all sorts of people, whether it is shops and a mixture of different facilities it does not matter, but what does matter is enabling these communities to have somewhere to gather together. That is at the heart of this wonderful Island, the sense of community that we have, the sense that we all know that we are each other’s neighbours.
So helping people meet and learn about each other is really important. I really hope that the Minister ensures that any of the planning, whether it is in town or is out of town, that we have allowed to happen through this Island Plan, includes all those community facilities, and Deputy Gardiner’s play area amendment yesterday was a really important element of that and should help that happen a bit more. I also cannot help but echo the words of Deputy Guida, that the natural environment is not really adequately represented in this Island Plan. It is there, it plays a part, but it is in the wings, rather than front and centre. I think similarly to the green field or the difficulty that we have had in zoning the number of green fields that the Minister wanted, is also an indication that the natural environment is a real priority for States Members as a whole. I know it is more of a priority for some, less for others, but I think we all know that the natural environment is one of the things that makes this Island wonderful. We have got the community, we have got the natural environment, and we have got the enterprise spirit. Those things together really do make this a wonderful and unique Island. Deputy Guida is right, I believe we need to make sure that the next Island Plan captures the importance of the natural environment even more so. I am delighted that the Gigoulande Quarry was not safeguarded. I think that is really important. The work can now be done to gather the evidence properly. I am also delighted that all but one of my amendments were passed by the Assembly. That is a great help and was a little bit of help with the lack of concern for employment land in the original draft Island Plan. I would like to congratulate the Assembly as well for what I think was, in the main, a well-humoured and well-mannered debate. That is really good, and I know there were moments of friction, but I think overall we have spent 2 weeks in this Assembly getting on with each other pretty well. Some may say that is because there are some gaps in the seating, so perhaps you have got a bit more air to breathe, but I would say that we do need States Members back in this Assembly. Not being here harms the Assembly and I know there are some who have very valid reasons, but I am less sure of others’ reasons. I do not want the Assembly to be harmed; it is the heart of democracy in this Island and to every single Member, and we have all seen each other for the past 2 weeks, we know the people who have been here for 2 weeks, I am really pleased and I am sure you also share that sense of the importance of being here, in person, talking to each other, building relationships, talking about the policies, talking about the issues together face to face. Nothing really replaces that and while 49 of us are not in this Assembly I do believe the Assembly is being harmed and damaged by that. I really hope that when we come to an ordinary sitting of the Assembly next week we will see many more States Members here.
I will be brief, Members will be pleased to note. Increasingly, I find I am of the school of philosophy that says less is more, so here is some little less. When we talk about did we have enough information, we have concentrated it on population issues and so on. What we were missing, and which is vital, and will not arrive until after we have finished this debate is the income distribution survey, which has been overdue for far too long, with the result that we have no idea what the state of our economy is. So we are making decisions in the Island Plan with no idea about the economic condition, financial and fiscal condition, of the Island’s economy, and that cannot help but be a mistake. That should not ever happen again. That is a compulsory part of where we are, what the economy is doing, because we need to make decisions exactly about that. I rose to my feet just to make sure, in case there was any chance of mistake, that my position on the Island Plan is crystal clear. In the past I may out of principle, even where we have changed the Island Plan or the economic plan, or whatever plan it is, and I have voted against it still for the reason that I do not want anybody on those benches saying: “This is your plan.” “No, it is not. I did not vote for it.” This time, however, as part of my commitment to being in a party, I shall refrain from using the contre finger and replace it with the pour, because while this may not be a perfect plan … the contre finger or the pour finger. [Laughter] Is that clear? Sadly, it may be clear. Sorry, I am distracted there, but it seems to me that where I am going politically is more and more towards a pale imitation, I must admit, of my predecessor in No. 2 District, now central St. Helier, Norman Le Brocq who started off life as a red tooth and claw and ended up as a green. When I look at this plan I am struck by where is the green policy? Where are the initiatives that we could have taken today to make sure that we got some fundamentals rolling or some fundamentals on which to base future policy and where is the policy? For example, in minor things, on e-charging points for electric cars. They may or may not be part of the solution, but where is the policy and have we worked on it this time around to make sure we have got the right policy so that we can adaptably make that transition? Where, for example, is our policy on photovoltaic rays, again maybe a major part of the way in which we travel towards zero carbon. Have we prepared for it this time around? No. What this suggests to me is that is missing and what is also missing is the D.I.Y. (do it yourself) that I usually quote when anybody says: “Why have we not done this?” and I am saying it now: where is the D.I.Y.? If in doubt, do not rely on anybody else in this Chamber to move in the right direction and create the right policy. Do it yourself. Perhaps the target I might be looking for, and I will be looking for, is pressing on green issues so that this time in 3 years hence we will develop some green policies that are workable, flexible and that way will see us through the next transition in our economy, very much in imitation of Norman Le Brocq. Let us go on missing elements today in this policy is green issues and our transition towards zero carbon. It may not be too late to make sure that that is a fundamental base that we have got established this time in 3 years’ time and I will be looking for that and, where possible, pressing and pushing to make sure that we get as green as possible a base to our economy in the future. That is my task for the next 3 years, should I be returned.
May I give notice that I intend to propose that the debate is closed in the next 30 minutes, as per Standing Order 84?
I echo very much what Deputy Luce has said, who spoke so well on behalf of the Parish of St. Martin. We at St. Martin have acquitted ourselves well and thanks to the bridging Island Plan we will be providing affordable homes and homes for over-55s in our very green and very pleasant Parish. My takeout from this 2 weeks, and my main wish, is that before we debate any future Island Plans we need to sit down and ensure that the process used to determine, develop and deliberate the plan is tightened up and clearly outlines that private applications amendments more suitable to planning applications through the proper channels are not included, and no more muddying of the waters with this type of amendment. The Island Plan should be for the public good and divorced from private interests. I reiterate sincere thanks to the Greffe, to the planning officers for their knowledge and tenacity, and applaud the Minister for his enthusiasm. I am not quite sure how long he has spoken for in this 2 weeks, but it must now run into hours. I would like to thank my fellow Members. It has been a long and tough 2 weeks. Overall this has been well-humoured, very well-researched and well-debated.
I am hastily scribbling some notes to speak very briefly, Members will be pleased to know, in this debate. We have heard about balance, and that is something that I have mentioned a number of times when I have spoken over the past 2 weeks and for me the balance has been about protecting our green land, our good agricultural land. I remember the Minister saying, I think yesterday, that he is taking away a clear message from the debates that we have had that this Assembly want to protect good agricultural land. Of course, that is the difficulty that we have all been faced with, the provision of affordable homes versus the protection of our good agricultural land and our countryside. Notwithstanding of course that the Minister for the Environment has said he will not be standing for election again in June, it may be the case that our next Minister for the Environment is a Member of this Assembly and will also be taking away the same message from 2 weeks of debate that our current Minister will be taking away. We all know the feelings of this Assembly. We know that the protection of our valuable countryside and our good agricultural land is absolutely paramount. I want to touch on a couple of other things, of course, that we have debated over the past couple of weeks. I am still of the view that the States-owned land, States-owned sites, has not been adequately explored for the provision of affordable homes and we agreed that 15 per cent was acceptable, but 15 per cent is too low for me. I mentioned to Senator Mézec that his 100 per cent was too much; to me it was not viable and I regret that I did not bring something to propose maybe 50 per cent, which I think would have been far more acceptable than the 15 per cent, but we are where we are. We have heard La Collette mentioned a few times and Deputy Pamplin, when speaking about the former I believe Minister for Planning and Environment, Deputy Duhamel ... I remember Deputy Duhamel mentioning numerous times in this Chamber that what we should be doing was decanting from premises that need not be used for small businesses potentially. My understanding was that the idea would be that they would move to either industrial sites but particularly to La Collette as I think there is far too much open space at La Collette that is not being utilised. What is it there for? Every time I drive down to take recycling it seems to me that there is another bit of big open space down there, and I wonder what on earth it is going to be used for.
My view is that we should be utilising it to move small businesses there, notwithstanding the Buncefield and the fuel farm limitations on it, but we should be using it to decant small businesses from premises that could be utilised for homes, because not everybody needs a brand new, newly-built affordable home. We do not have to build brand new affordable homes if we are able to utilise buildings that are already in existence to provide family homes, so that is what we should be doing, in my opinion. We know that Deputy Guida is absolutely passionate about the environment and his views that the natural environment has not been adequately represented within this debate I cannot disagree with. It is absolutely ironic to me that the Minister presenting this debate is the Minister for the Environment so what is he there for? What do we have a Minister for the Environment for? Surely it is their duty to protect the environment. That is what I am assuming and to me it is ironic that the Minister has, in this plan, brought forward or supported the development of a number of good agricultural fields. That, to me, does not balance. If he is the Minister for the Environment his duty, I feel, should be to absolutely fight for our environment, and the environment in this case I am thinking to mean the natural environment of this Island of Jersey. I ask the Minister when he sums up to explain to me why the word “planning” was removed from his title. I am pretty sure it used to be the Minister for Planning and Environment, so does that mean that planning is less important than the environment? I just do not know, but it seems to me there should be a tension between the 2. As we have observed during the debates of the past 2 weeks there has been a tension between the environment and planning matters and I think that is as it should be, but I am a little concerned that we have a Minister, obviously not referring to Deputy Young personally, but the role itself, is environment with planning tacked on somewhere. It is clear that this debate has been about planning issues more than the benefit to the environment that we could and should be delivering. I think that point was really picked up by Deputy Southern when he mentioned a moment ago where are the green policies in this? Where were the environmental policies? He said if he is here in 3 or 4-years’ time that is what he will be looking for, but we should not be waiting for 3 or 4 years to be looking at good, strong environmental policies. I am not even sure that we have mentioned much about our carbon neutral policy within this debate. Surely that should have come into it, as the Minister is the Minister for the Environment. Those are my views on this debate. What I would say is the Minister is, to me, the most passionate Minister when it comes to him speaking about his remit, be that environment or planning. He absolutely speaks from his heart when he addresses what is his job, and he has described it to us. He has been doing his job for the past 2 weeks. He is the most passionate and I think I would like to thank him for that, because I think it engenders from us all a greater interest when we hear somebody speaking firmly, with passion, with absolute conviction about what they have to say. I am hoping that his passion and this debate will have prompted those Members who are here now, and who may be returned after the next election, to consider standing for the Planning Committee, because Members know I am a member of that committee since 2018. I had always shied away from it because I thought I was not really that good at reading plans and everything, but it is not about knowing the detail of the plans and the window frames; that is down to the officers, building regulations and everything else. It is about common sense and what we should be doing, what applications we should be saying: “Yes, that is absolutely acceptable” and about those where we should be saying: “No way can this be acceptable to me as an individual representing the people of this Island.” We have all driven around, and I know somebody mentioned this over the past few weeks, I cannot remember who it was, we have all driven around the Island and seen a horrific building or something in the wrong place and thought: “How on earth did that get permission to go there? Who on earth decided that something as ugly as that should be smack bang in the middle of our countryside?” so I would urge Members to consider standing for the Planning Committee next time around, and even new Members, of course, who may be elected. It is absolutely a vital thing that we do not make the mistakes that we have made in the past, and of course the debate over the past few weeks is tightening policies up, is changing policies so that we can hopefully deliver better for the Island. I would ask the Minister in his summing up, and I know he is going to make a great speech, I would like to of course echo the words of other Members to thank him for his enthusiasm and also to thank the officers who have been able to be in the building. I would also like to thank presumably the Bailiff, who made the decision to allow the officers to come in, because that has been absolutely vital, as we have heard. I thank that very wise decision and I appreciate that very wise decision. I would like the Minister to explain to me, and of course to everyone else listening, why the term “planning” was dropped from the Minister for Planning and Environment’s role, and to talk about the tension between the environmental policies and the planning policies, and I would like him to tell me what takes precedence now in the decision-making within his department? Is it the environment, because it is the Environment Department, or is it planning? What takes precedence and when? I thank everyone else who has spoken; it has been a good 2 weeks although, as Deputy Morel said, a couple of times it has been a little uncomfortable to listen to what has been said, because there has been a tension between environment and planning, but overall I think it has brought Members together again, particularly as there are more of us in the Chamber again.
Of course I want to endorse every single word that has been said in commendation of those officers who have worked incredibly hard to get us to where we are in their politically neutral roles putting this document together and providing us with advice, both of course in your team and that of the Environment Department, and much has been said about that. The reason I want to highlight that point at the start is because what I am about to follow with is not their fault and the main point I wanted to make is that this bridging Island Plan is a bridging Island Plan of missed opportunities, which sells the Island short and does not provide an adequate enough framework for development over these next few years to meet the needs of the public of this Island. Yes, there have been some very good amendments that have been accepted, which have made the plan slightly more acceptable. One of those amendments was my own, a few others from party colleagues, and independent Members as well have contributed valuably too, but I maintain that I have great concerns over where the Island will be in a few years’ time, if this plan is followed to its letter or, more likely, that we fall short on what the plan attempts to deliver for us. I am disappointed that several of the safeguards that were proposed for the St. Brelade’s Bay area were not approved by this Assembly, and I am deeply worried that that special part of our Island and its character and offer to tourists and locals will be lost because of a lack of bravery from those in Government to take interventions that are necessary to do that. I think that that is replicated across other parts of the Island affected by this plan too. I share the views of Deputy Southern, who spoke about the lack of green initiatives and thinking about the future with our carbon neutral ambitions, ambitions that are absolutely vital. Most importantly for me, where I am coming from politically, is that I really think that those who before this plan had little hope that Jersey’s affordable housing crisis would be alleviated will have even less hope now, because of the opportunities that have been missed and what this plan and what this Government have actively proposed to fall short on what the Island needs. I maintain and I will keep maintaining that it is a disgrace that this plan allows for unaffordable homes to be built on publicly-owned land. That was a mistake and it should not have been included in this plan in the first place, and I hope that those who are politically responsible for that will pay the political price for it, and I think they will have a shock, those who wish to run for re-election, on the doorsteps telling people: “We want to use land that you own to turn into in some cases luxury investment apartments for the super-wealthy” and good luck making that case to them, the fact that there is to be a big windfall of unaffordable homes outside of town and no affordable homes provided, except on those sites that have been rezoned, some of which have been good agricultural land, and how sad it is that the politicians who put this plan together did not seek to strike a much better balance in that. Then we subsequently have had to go through this process with Back-Benchers’ amendments which the one lesson I hope we have learned at the end of this 2 weeks is that there are substantial improvements to this process that can be made so that we get something at the end of it that is more coherent. Rather than dedicating some more time to giving the Government the kicking they deserve for not providing a plan that deals more thoroughly with these issues, I will say that the alternative to this is to not pass this and have the previous Island Plan’s policies continue, and that is worse, so we obviously cannot tolerate that, which means that this plan unfortunately does have to be accepted, but I will say and put on record now that in the next few years we will have a lot of catching up to do, to try to mitigate what this plan puts in place in its failure to provide the supply of affordable housing that we need and the failure of this Assembly previously to introduce the types of regulatory protections for housing that are not connected to the supply issues that have had a big impact in exacerbating the housing crisis. When we come to the next part of the bridging Island Plan there will have been a lot of lost ground, but I can say at least that I have optimism that the composition of the next States Assembly will be better equipped to deal with that and, if I have any attempt to have a say in that, I will make sure that it does much better next time around.
I did not know how long I would have to speak or indeed that I would be straight after Senator Mézec, my party leader. I do hope, though, that now that we have 15-minute speeches, and I will not speak for that long, that it would not be necessary to use the guillotine, as we call it colloquially, to cut off the debate, because I think it is important to hear what Members have to say after 10 days of debate; I can count, I learned how to use my fingers like Deputy Southern today. It is good to see that Deputy Southern goes over and beyond, so we are a trilingual Assembly but he has been learning British Sign Language, or indeed it could have been French Sign Language, I am not sure because I think it was understood in whatever language we might wish to speak. For some, this is a bridging Island Plan that is a bridging Island Plan too far. We do see some emails from members of the public who are urging us to vote against this. I will come back to that towards the end, and of course I endorse everything that has just been said by my party colleague thanking the independent staff who have been doing lots of administration no doubt for us as well as for the Minister and the Assistant Ministers in supporting this. I do want to look at, let us say, 3 areas briefly. The first one, and it was interesting just very quickly what the Constable of St. Lawrence said about is he the Minister for Planning or the Environment, and she did qualify what she meant by the environment. Of course, this has long been a conversation and a tension that I am sure he is capable of addressing at the end. It did also dawn on me that there is a built environment, of course, and I know that the Constable knows that because she qualified her interests to talk to the natural environment. But there is that balance of course, because people’s immediate environment of course is their home, the home in which they live. If they are living in an unhealthy environment, for whatever reason, it might be psychologically, they do not have security of tenure, or that they have got inadequate housing because it might be cold and damp, it is difficult to heat and so on, or there are just sound issues in those areas, then that is their immediate environment rather than any considerations they might have about the luxury of being able to go for long walks in a country park. That does not mean, of course, the latter is not important; it just means that I am sure whoever the future Minister for Planning is and the Minister for the Environment, he or she will need to juggle those 2 tensions. Of course there is a case perhaps for having a separate Minister for the Environment, but what we have got to make sure, I guess, is that whatever happens we have joined-up policy, because there is no point in just having a Minister, we have seen it in the past where Ministers can become isolated, you have responsibility for this, it is a glossy new title, but in fact if the rest of Government are not supporting that Minister it becomes either worthless or in fact counterproductive. I wanted to look at transport quickly because we did not get the chance to have the debate on it yesterday with the Constable of St. Helier. I think this is key because there is a risk of course that we still try to build the Island’s infrastructure around the private motor vehicle. At the same time, I wanted to make the point that there is going to need to be transitional arrangements, because it is not simply a case of cars and parking bad, bicycles, buses and walking good, because there is going to be a period where we need to accept that if you want people to stop using their cars then you are going to need to have more carparking spaces, because if people are not using their cars they need to park them somewhere, and people are not going to give up their cars as long as there is no alternative because, apart from cost, the other major implication and consideration for them is convenience and I think there is going to be that period. For example, I have needed to make my own planning for journeys. I normally have a scooter, which is really great for nipping around the Island, which is currently, as the Americans would say, in the shop or at the garage, so I have been having to use all sorts of transport, which includes getting lifts from Parish Constables to take me home, or using the bus or getting the EVie, which I found really useful when it works properly, in that you can just book these cars when you want to and they work out very cost-effective and you can effectively have them for an hour and a quarter and you can get to where you want to, say at lunchtime, and get back for just £10; it is remarkable if we think about how the price of petrol or diesel is going up. I think we are going to see changes that dictate the planning rules and we are going to look towards more communality of not simply having your own car, but having access to a car or having access to a bus that runs somewhere near your house but at the times that you want them, and having maybe more taxis but fewer private cars, which are cheaper and that are electric, so that we are not getting the pollution that Deputy Ward talked about in key areas of the Island. I will just leave those points there. There is not an easy solution to that but I think we have just got to be mindful and not build infrastructure that becomes outdated very quickly as things move on. I also want to focus on St. Brelade, but not in an indulgent way, because I think the lessons we can learn about what is or has been safeguarded or what has not been safeguarded at Les Quennevais and perhaps in the bay are examples that we can all relate to in the different villages around the Island, be that at St. Peter, in St. John, at Maufant, which again crosses different villages, and no doubt other ones like Gorey. There are other ones that I probably should mention but those are the ones that immediately spring to mind as the slightly bigger conurbations that, depending on how it goes of course, could end up like Les Quennevais and Red Houses. I hope that what they do is capture the great community spirit that exists in Les Quennevais and Red Houses, but that it is better planned from a planning point of view from the beginning. Again, we need to get this balance right about what is the right intervention of Government, whether it is central government or localised government, at dictating what we want to see there, while still allowing for the economy and the natural culture of those areas to grow up. They need to be viable places. That is why I am pleased and heartened that there has been a commitment by the Minister and the Assembly for some kind of masterplan for that area. It is absolutely vital that we have proper conversations with the people who live and use those areas, but also the people who own it, and that is where the complications arise, and the support of the Parish that says: “Look, what could we do here if we had a blank canvas, if we had some blue-sky thinking?” and we have got a variety of different funding options including hopefully from this new development fund, whatever it is, which can now be used across the Island. I would like to see some great sustainable living, some parks there, some cafés, more European, maybe less central U.K. towns, and I am sure there are some great examples in the U.K. as well, but I certainly know what vision I would want to see broadly for that area and other villages and towns throughout our Island. I think I am going to skip the housing issue, simply just to say that I limit it to these points. Of course, the Island Plan has been focusing on affordable housing and I think largely home ownership. There has often been I think a false equation of affordable housing with first-time buyers, and the 2 are not the same at all. A first-time buyer home does not mean that it will be affordable, and it also does not mean that those homes will necessarily stay affordable or in the scheme in perpetuity. I will be watching closely to make sure that whatever schemes there are in the Island are properly ring-fenced and that when people sell they should be selling back to the scheme and that we should not have just an initial subsidy that says: “Okay, we will help you buy a house and we will retain 25 per cent or 33 per cent [whatever it is] of your property but after that you can then sell it on the open market” because that is the error we made in the first place with the States loan. A really good idea to have the States loan scheme to help people buy their own houses, but then you are helping unaffordable houses perpetually remain in the market. The other point is that if we want more people to own their own homes and you get fewer renters you are going to need fewer rental properties and then those rental properties can also be freed up for families to buy that are affordable. Lastly, I do not know if it is incumbent on me, but I feel that I want to congratulate the Minister, who is a fellow St. Brelade Deputy. It just is a matter of fact that I am the longest continuously serving member of the Parish of St. Brelade. It is bizarre to say that, and I know that the current Constable has been in the Assembly before me. I would like to say that it has been a pleasure working with Deputy Young, but again there have been times when I have needed to have strong words with him publicly about where we have had disagreements. I know it has also been difficult, especially when you are the sole representative for a district within a bigger Parish to balance your Ministerial duties with perhaps your constituency duties, especially when there are things that you cannot deal with because it is not good practice to do so, and it is not always easy to then pass your work on to somebody else if you are the sole representative of that district. I know the Constable may sympathise with this point, but if there are people out there who complain that Deputy Young has been too busy it surely has got to be a label of pride that he has been taking his Ministerial responsibilities in this Assembly so seriously in what I hope he will not mind me saying has been a difficult coalition for him. That the very tension that I think the Constable of St. Lawrence mentioned about the difficulties between planning and the environment perhaps summarise very clearly the difficulties that the Minister has had, which he has vocalised himself about, and wanting to be greener, wanting to be more environmental, yet at the same time trying to keep this Assembly and the wider community happy in delivering not just the natural environment but the built environment, so that people can live somewhere with security of tenure, somewhere that they can call a home for all of their life, so that they never need to move out of necessarily unless they want to, in communities that are organic, sustainable and which people want to live in. With that in mind, I am happy to support, with the usual caveats, this bridging Island Plan. So much good work has gone into it and we need to get now to a point where we have got a Government that can deliver in a joined-up way, looking at all of the issues that face the Island and tackling them in a coherent manner. Certainly, for the part of this Minister and his officers and staff I think that they have done probably the best that they could under the given circumstances.
The Deputy Greffier of the States (in the Chair):
Thank you. The Constable of St. Mary, 30 minutes have indeed passed since you raised the intention. Do you still wish to make that proposal?
The Connétable of St. Mary:
Yes, Ma’am, I would like to continue with that Standing Order 84.
The Deputy Greffier of the States (in the Chair):
Standing Order 84(3) says: “The Presiding Officer shall not allow the proposal if it appears to him or her that it is an abuse of the procedure of the States or an infringement of the rights of a minority.” By convention it has been normal that at least 10 Members of the Assembly have spoken and we have had 19, so I would say that by convention it would be acceptable for you to make that proposal and we should immediately go to the vote without debate.
Yes, Ma’am, I would like to make that proposal.
The Deputy Greffier of the States (in the Chair):
Do you wish to speak on the proposal?
The Connétable of St. Mary:
The Deputy Greffier of the States (in the Chair):
I do not think there is an ability for you to make a speech as such, I think we just immediately put the proposal to the vote.
The Connétable of St. Mary:
I would just like to call for the appel on that vote, please.
Senator I.J. Gorst:
Could I ask how many people you have got listed to speak?
The Deputy Greffier of the States (in the Chair):
Just Deputy Lewis at the moment. I do not know if any other Members wish to indicate a willingness to speak.
Deputy K.F. Morel:
Ma’am, I think the proposal may need to be seconded. I do not know.
The Deputy Greffier of the States (in the Chair):
A very good point there, Deputy Morel. Is the proposal seconded? [Seconded] Then we go to the vote. Those Members in the precincts, if they would like to return to the Chamber, those joining us on the link …
Deputy G.C. Guida:
Sorry, Ma’am, a technical question, reverting on the …
The Deputy Greffier of the States (in the Chair):
Whether you wish to close the debate and move to the … then Deputy Young would make his closing speech and we would go to the vote on the Island Plan. It would just mean that no other Members would be able to speak in the debate on the Island Plan as amended. So that is the vote before us. In a moment the Greffier will open the voting and I ask him to do so now. If all Members have had an opportunity to cast their votes I ask the Greffier to close the voting. I can announce that the proposition has been lost. There were 15 votes in favour, 25 against and one abstention. [Approbation]
The Assistant Greffier of the States:
Those Members voting pour: Senator Gorst, the Connétables of Grouville and St. Mary, Deputy Pinel, Deputy Guida, Deputy Ahier, Deputy Higgins, the Connétable of St. Saviour, Deputy Ash, Senator Vallois, Deputy Labey, the Deputy of St. Peter, Deputy Wickenden, Deputy Truscott and the Deputy of Trinity and Deputy Young abstained.
The Deputy Greffier of the States (in the Chair):
Very well. We continue with the debate. Deputy Lewis is next on my list.
Many Members have referred to States-owned land and I just have to reiterate that even though Property Holdings is part of my remit, I have very, very little land as such; apart from sea walls and a lot of tarmac, very other little land. The last batch was handed to Andium, which is The Limes. The Constable of St. Lawrence mentioned La Collette and the Buncefield issue. Sadly, the Buncefield issue is very much still a live topic. I am obliged by law to build a periodic test inspection centre. That is not something I want to do, I am obliged by law to do that as part of the Vienna Convention. I have had talks with the Minister for the Environment but, sadly, because of the Buncefield incident, and I will just quickly run over that for members of the public who may be listening in, Buncefield was, I believe, an oil refinery in Hertfordshire and in 2005 there was an enormous explosion and it took the fire brigade in that particular area, the fire service, a long time to put it out. There was indeed considerable damage. It was decided thereafter if you have an oil refinery or a fuel storage area to have what is, in effect, a bullseye area where within that zone nothing should be built or there should be no further expansion. That has been downgraded slightly from when it came in in 2005 but there is still a presumption of no developments at La Collette for the time being. That is the area where I wanted to build the periodic test inspection centre and I was told not just no, it was an emphatic no on the grounds of health and safety. It does seem a little bizarre because we do have the recycling centre there, obviously the Energy from Waste plant is there and hundreds of people on a daily basis go down to recycle their rubbish. But there is a presumption of no further developments at La Collette for the time being. Who knows, in the future maybe the gas centre there will be moved somewhere else, likewise the fuel farm may be relocated in the future; who knows? But at the moment it is no developments. As I dearly wanted the head of D.V.S. (Driver and Vehicle Standards) to have oversight in both senses of the word of the new periodic test inspection centre, there would be approximately, I believe, 5 or 6 lanes and the testing will not be as onerous as an M.O.T. (Ministry of Transport) inspection in the U.K. because obviously we do not do the mileage, we do not have motorways, so cars would only be inspected every 3 years and anyway that particular area was curtailed. We have requested various other sites around the Island and all to no avail at the moment. I am in constant dialogue with our colleague, the Minister for the Environment. But people think that if you are a Minister you can do what you like; no, we have parameters. My job basically is having one of my legs tied to the Minister for the Environment’s legs and told to go on a cross-country run. It is an amazingly difficult job trying to fit in with all the parameters that we have. I also get stopped in the street on a regular basis and asked, why am I allowing La Folie Inn to deteriorate, should I not be doing it up? I would dearly love to but it is not mine, it is not part of remit; that is Ports of Jersey. I would love to see a restaurant or something there with apartments above and there is lots of development potential there. I do not know what the Ports of Jersey have got in mind for it but, sadly, it is not part of my remit or it would be up and running as we speak. But, as I say, I will speak very briefly because I want to give as many Members as possible the chance to speak before we presumably break for lunch in about 20 or 25 minutes. But there we are, it is a difficult job but we do what we can and I know the Minister for the Environment has a terribly difficult job. Putting it politely, you are condemned if you do and condemned if you do not, and I will leave it there for now.
Deputy K.F. Morel:
Ma’am, a point of clarification please.
The Deputy Greffier of the States (in the Chair):
A point of clarification, are you willing to give way, Deputy Lewis?
Deputy K.F. Morel:
Thank you, Minister. It was just, could the Minister clarify whether it is an obligation by law that you build a periodic testing centre? My understanding is that it is an obligation under the Vienna Convention. The Vienna Convention has been extended to Jersey but it is not Jersey law.
Deputy K.C. Lewis:
Quite correct. I am obliged to build it and it is the same thing, I am obliged to build this test centre as part of the Vienna Convention. Many people have said: “Why should we have our cars tested if we do not take them off Island?” But anybody coming to the Island tourist-wise must be satisfied that we comply with the convention, so we are so doing.
The Deputy Greffier of the States (in the Chair):
Does any other Member wish to speak? Deputy Higgins has a point of clarification, is that for the last speaker as well, Deputy Higgins?
Deputy M.R. Higgins of St. Helier:
Yes, it is for the Minister, thank you, Ma’am.
The Deputy Greffier of the States (in the Chair):
For Deputy Lewis, sorry, is it a point of clarification …
Deputy M.R. Higgins:
Yes, Deputy Lewis, yes.
The Deputy Greffier of the States (in the Chair):
Are you willing to give way, Deputy Lewis, for a further point of clarification?
Deputy M.R. Higgins:
The Minister said that we have to build the M.O.T. testing centre, is it not the case that if an alternative policy of allowing garages to offer M.O.T.s the Minister would not have to build a testing centre?
Deputy K.C. Lewis:
Yes, but just to elucidate slightly, the industry was consulted widely, I believe every garage was consulted. The U.K. have been doing M.O.T. testing since, I believe, 1960 but garages over here would have to run from a standing start. Even the smallest garage would need considerable investment to bring all their equipment right up to date with the latest technology and most garages could not afford it. A lot of garages would be disadvantaged because of this; the larger garages would dominate the business from smaller garages. It was decided and requested by industry that a standalone centre be built.
The Deputy Greffier of the States (in the Chair):
Does any other Member wish to speak? If no other Member wishes to speak, then I call upon the Minister to respond.
Deputy J.H. Young of St. Brelade:
I think looking at the clock I think I am going to have to start with an apology. I think this has been a very, very important debate and thinking, how shall I try and close this debate? I wanted to sum up some of the people that had messages that I have taken from the debate, the debate these last 2 weeks because I think they are really important that Members carry them forward, those Members that are continuing in office or seeking election carry those messages forward. I have taken notes of the 20 Members who have spoken. I think what I would like to do will be to go through my initial thoughts and then if Members would allow me to go through and pick up any key points in Members’ speeches this morning, which either need emphasis or have not been covered. I am sorry, I just do not think I can do that in 15 minutes. I am in your hands. This has been a really important debate and I will be frank, I am going to say this before I pause and see what Members want me to do, I think this has been an outstanding debate, it has covered so many broad areas that set whole markers for the future and I think it is going to set many issues in the elections. It needs to be given proper justice and not sort of pushed away because we all want to get off for lunch and close. I am in Members’ hands. I do not know what procedurally I can do.
The Deputy Greffier of the States (in the Chair):
Do you wish to propose the adjournment?
Deputy J.H. Young:
Yes, I am going to propose the adjournment, Ma’am.
The Deputy Greffier of the States (in the Chair):
Is the proposition seconded? [Seconded] Perhaps Members could indicate with a standing vote whether they would be willing to adjourn. If Members wish to show if they agree with that proposal and against. The adjournment has been carried and we will return at 2.15 p.m.
After 2 long weeks here we are. I think I will start with Deputy Southern’s comment, it is not a perfect plan, no plan is perfect but I believe it is the best plan we can achieve. Most significant for me, I think, I really believe after 2 weeks’ debate and the amendments that Members have brought, which have added real value to it, improved it and Members’ amendments, they have taken away some parts that Members have made the decisions, democratic decisions and the things they have added to it. I think we have ended up with a really good plan, which I think I am asking Members to agree, I think it is the Members’ plan. Because I have always said the final decisions in the planning process are here. As Minister, my job is to bring forward and to, if you like, organise the process and put forward recommendations. But in the end there are choices and there are no ways in any land-use issues you can avoid choices. To start with and I thought: what was the goal that we do in having a plan and a summary? I am not going to go into a lot of detail but this is basically required by the planning law and we need to have comprehensive and sustainable development of land, which meets the needs of the community, to the natural community, without undue harm it says. That plan has to be based on evidence and it needs to have a strategy for sustainable development but, above all, it needs to be capable of delivering. This is also important, that I believe the Island Plan that the Assembly adopts needs to be consistent with the decisions of the States Assembly and our Government objectives. I think the plan passes all those tests. A lot of Members have spoken which I will go through. I think what I want to do is to give my high-level views of the plan before I then go through, not in great detail, individual Member’s comments where I think there are some important issues to highlight and perhaps elaborate or reply to there, so start with the big picture. A lot of the comments, Members have made comments about the process. There is no question that this process of the Island Plan can be improved and should be improved next time. This process that we had to adopt is a temporary one. This will be the only time that process is used. I think there will need to be changes but I think there are both good and bad things in that process and obviously the timescale was forced on us because we started out 3 years to do the plan and we lost a year; we have lost a year with COVID. We had to have a choice: do we have a plan or not? But I do think the process we have had is more transparent and open than what has been done in past plans in 2002 and 2011. One of the things I want to do after this debate, if Members approve the plan, is to prepare some drafting instructions which helped that drafting underway and of course it would be my successor to see whether they agree with that and put it into effect to see that the next Island Plan review is even better. Of course Members have spoken about a number of amendments and of course that is huge, it is a massive issue, 102 and of course amendments to amendments. Of course I do think some of the process of improvements ... I think one of things we were not able to do, which I have always wanted to do, we have a 2-stage process where we amend the plan after the public consultation and after Members’ amendments and then we go out through it again to another process but we did not have time. I think the 102 amendments reflects that. But of course we did manage to get a number of agreements with Members about Members’ amendments being withdrawn or accepted as read, which is about 40 of them, and of course what that meant is we are left with debates on the really core, important decisions. I have to compliment Members, I have not been in the States that long, 3 years before and now this time 4 years, whether it is a subject that I am particularly interested in, I just think it was one of the finest debates I have heard. I think the quality of debate was outstanding. In every single debate and all the huge range of subjects we spoke of, Members were speaking from the heart, Members gave their feelings, there was nothing left at the door and that has resulted in a very good plan. I find that a much more satisfying thing to do, to talk policy vision for the Island. That is not to denigrate of course the important point about setting laws. But I found that debate absolutely outstanding. Of course we have had enormous help and I will deal with it in a bit more detail later, the officers and the Greffier who have ordered this for us. Without that it would have been a shambles, they have ordered that for us, in the material, the order and so on. I think Members may see when they get the final version of the plan because obviously what the officers have been doing, while I have been in the room, as well as helping all Members here and helping me, they have been making the changes to a consolidated version. The intention is to publish that very quickly. It needs to be published very quickly because the planning rules change from the moment Members have got this report, so all planning decisions and Members will want to see that. When you do see it I think you will see how rich it has become. No more content has been added to it. It is really, really, I think, a very impressive document and I really think it is a Members’ plan. I think that has been done together and I am so pleased. It has been a privilege for me to go through that because it is one of my main goals, when I got elected, what is the number one job? Island Plan. I thought I will get to this point because there are lots of issues, we do not want a plan B, we will chuck it out, we will leave it, we cannot deal with it, it is too complicated, it is too difficult. Together we have all overcome this and got to a place that says it is not a perfect plan, I think it is a good plan and I am recommending it to you. Picking up some of the points of it, first of all, dealing with marine issues and landscape. Of course we did address the concerns about the original proposals for a coastal national park extension but we have done that, we have dealt with that, and we have now got a protected coastal area. That is something that I am really pleased about because that will give us improved control over the development that goes on in our very special places. Of course we put in place mechanisms for the issues of the coastal national park and where it is and so on, all that to be dealt with by a future States, by future Ministers, so that is there. I think that is really a significant item because my starting personal point was if we are going to give up some green fields, which I never wanted to do and so I had no choice, we needed to protect the special places, and I am delighted that we have that in our new plan, the strength of it in those special areas. Then of course we have had a debate about urban development and building heights, and Members have said they are open to higher buildings and I think that will have a significant effect on future plans for St. Helier. I think they are going to be a big challenge to architects in the future. I think that will have implications for how Government Plans, investment and the public spaces in between those buildings, so that what we get is liveable spaces with that intensification, sorry, of that building heights. But that is a democratic decision because obviously I will come to that. The reason why we are doing that is because we have made other decisions of course. I think we have put in place policies that are relevant to listed buildings and places, things like a conservation area, conservation of windows and doors and also some measurement that when we lose these assets that there is a real test about the gains to the public and evidence. Then we have got a masterplan for Five Oaks, as well as Les Quennevais. Of course then we come to housing, we started out setting some targets. There was a lot of debate: “Shall we have a target?” Some people might have said no but I thought it was important that we should put that there and have a goal. I think where we finished up, I believe we have made reasonable progress towards that target; reasonable progress. It has fallen short of what that target was but, I will be frank, I never expected that we would fully achieve it. People have said to me in past plans we have come out with zero. I think it is a reasonable progress. But Members, I think, have set the limits now. The message coming loud and clear they have set the boundaries, boundaries for future policy and future homes. They have modified Members, we have all modified together those proposals for the uses of green land. But of course the next Government will need to continue to identify where we can build or create affordable homes and how we can do that, to deliver affordability. I think part of that, and I think Members are right that have said we need to ensure that we use government-owned sites more effectively in that goal. I believe that message is coming out. I think you really have a very, very strong point is the value of agriculture to our Island. Up to now it has been the debate of: “Shall we hang on to it? It does not really generate any money.” Of course we all know that the agriculture industry is what looks after our physical Island. What Members have said, this is of primary importance that we conserve that industry in the future. There are all sorts of lessons that have come out of that: how much support do we give to the agricultural industry? Not a lot, absolutely right. What do we do to help them increase and maintain our local food productions when we have got global crises going on and supply lines? How much support do we give them? I think there are a whole set of issues that follow from that. Of course the big elephant in the room, is it an elephant in the room or is it the giant that walks through the door? Sustainable population policy. We just have to crack this one. It will be for others to follow but, in all honesty, it means that the States, I believe, will have to recognise they are not going to find perfect solutions. They are going to have to find a pragmatic solution because we just cannot go on having to, I do not believe, use our land without having such a policy in place.
What are the numbers looking like? You have them now; I asked that this was circulated round. We started out saying we want 4,000 homes, we added a safe margin to that, which obviously we have not got and we have ended up with 4,162 in the plan, of which 375 homes are affordable, 90 homes in total for supported and over-55 homes. Of the 15 sites that Members were asked to consider the Assembly accepted 9 and of the 8 other sites that were presented by Members the Assembly accepted 4. I was really heartened with Ministers because given the pressing needs for a home it was a fear of mine that Members would go and support sites that I thought would be extremely damaging; it is our landscape and our countryside. But Members used their judgment, they used balance, I believe we made very sound decisions on that. Of course we have as well 2 sites, one for affordable homes, which I supported, in St. Helier and one for the over-55s in St. Martin, although I did not recommend it I abstained because I believe it is important that we have homes for the over-55s; that is only my personal view but I cannot remember if it was unanimous or not. Then on the policies, we had a very, very important debate on the 7th amendment. We have introduced a longstanding policy to provide any developer of homes to make a contribution to affordable housing products. It is a modest one, it is a start but we have really gone down that road now, which is great. It is really good for the Island. Then of course about how we use States-owned land, I think we have ended up with a mechanism. It was a very difficult thing to do but to try and find a mechanism where Members in the future - and I believe the wording of the plan approved - will allow through the Government Plan process, is to have those decisions having an oversight of States Assembly decisions of how we use those in the future. It is complex but that is there for the future Minister to use and the future Council of Ministers. Of course we have got more flexibility for, I suppose, multigenerational homes that I spoke about, to have more than one household in existing or extended homes outside of the built area. Then we have done things about the building bylaws, it is about energy, so those are really important things. Bearing in mind that in a few weeks we are going to be discussing the carbon neutral roadmap, where most of the recommendations that have come forward are on getting to net zero or carbon neutral, and those will be in there. That is what we try to do is dovetail this plan with the carbon neutral plan. Of course education, we have safeguarded a number of sites, Mont à l’Abbé, the gasworks site, Old Fire Station but I think where we have got to, and I need to deal with this. Started work on the Island Plan, I have tried not to be critical but I am critical that we have not had the school strategy. I have campaigned on it endlessly. [Approbation] I have made it totally clear to my colleagues that we will be in the situation we are. I have and I am going to stick to it; this now must be put right. We have had to make decisions without that. We need that school strategy and I have written here: “Members are telling us in primary schools we do not want busing.” We want people, youngsters, children to be able to go to local schools. I think those are the messages that I am taking that is going to go forward. Of course all these lessons, they will not be for me, Members that are continuing in the Assembly or are aspiring to or take Ministerial office or those perhaps listening outside that have aspirations for a political officer, I think these issues I am raising now may set a lot of agenda issues at the elections and it is right they should. Then of course sports and leisure, I think we have ended up with some good plans there, that we have got good possibilities of enhancing sports or FB Fields, for example, La Rocque and also the opportunities, the exciting opportunities around the Strive area. Of course I do recognise the success of the Farmers’ Cricket Club. I think our task is to help them find the right location for the aspirations in the Island in the future. Of course Warwick Farm showed the intention that always exists on planning between economic benefit on the one hand against community benefit, and of course the truth is both are important and I believe that the plan provides a way in which we can have that community gain for the residents of St. Helier and at the same time find a solution for the company that are doing their successful operation there and help them to grow and prosper, so I think that can be done. Then we have had decisions to reject some amendments and amendments being withdrawn. Of course one of those areas was the very difficult area of the daytime and evening economy, particularly in St. Brelade. I think throughout the debate there is this question we want to be able to have influence on our tourism industry to help make sure it survives. But the risk of having negative consequences by being overly prescriptive in planning controls, and Members have made that decision. We are not going to have those onerous controls but, nonetheless, we need to have mechanisms to try and work with the industry and help it out. I think later on Deputy Morel made a lot of points about the economic side of this plan. But of course just to remind Deputy Morel, one of the factors of why we had to do a bridging Island Plan was not just COVID, it is because COVID completely destroyed our economy for 12 months, we did not know where it was going to go. Trying to plan for 10 years against that background proved impossible. What we had to do was use the best evidence and absolutely there will be better evidence. We now see we are in a changed situation, hopefully soon we will get some quality statistical information and help the next variant of the plan provide that. But we have provided for policies, for continued finance industry and of course agriculture industry but that, I think, is an area for development. I would expect Deputy Morel to be in the forefront of that if he is successful or decides to maintain. Decisions were made about demolition of buildings, which is, I think, an issue about sustainability and whether we are continuing with a throwaway approach to buildings. I think there needs to be more work to be done. Of course we made a decision yesterday that we are not, in this plan, going to have a plan for the use of construction materials in the Island, and that is postponed. But I do not think we can afford not to look at the need for input of strategy for importation and the infrastructure requirements that will flow on the port of St. Helier and the town. I think we have to start that work now because a very clear decision has been made. The plan at the moment does not have a plan to use our local materials. I think what I want to do is get on to Members’ comments shortly, so a couple of things that I just want to pick up. There is a lot of work to be done now, which is how implementing the plan and I think yesterday, I think, the Connétable of St. Brelade reminded us of that because he brought forward a number of amendments about sort of performance measures, which is new - we have never had this before I do not think - which will help us judge how well this plan works in practice. But we do not want to be where the States have been in the past. We get lots of nice things in the plan but none of them really happen. This is really about making sure that when the Government Plans come through there are resources in place to do these things, and that is a real plea because unless that is done people cannot do it without resources. We have got a marine spatial plan for our territory waters, masterplans for Les Quennevais and Five Oaks, conservation areas, lots of them, improvement plan for St. Brelade’s Bay, supplementary planning guides for each of the rezoned sites, planning briefs for each of them and support new policies. Of course talking yesterday I think part of the debate yesterday about the Connétables, we have agreed a lot of new housing in village centres. There is no question that I think those Parish communities are going to need help and support in order to house and take those centres of those Parish communities and how to integrate those new homes and to ensure we get the other things that we go with it, that we get paths to school, we get footpaths, we get open space, we get amenities. If there are opportunities for commercial activities, like shops and things like that, that is all factored in so we can start to work but that is not going to happen by accident. There will need to be support by the planning system to every one of those Parish communities that have rezoned sites within them. It is a lot of work there and it is really worth doing because that is going to help those communities for many, many years, decades to come. Of course we have a small team in place and I have made the message there needs to be plans and resources and the Connétables and the communities need that support, otherwise we will end up with developer-driven development. It needs to be right. We are going to have also of course to talk about not just education but the issues about older members of our community. Sustainable transport that our Minister for Infrastructure will be bringing forward, that project, but that needs to be part of any plan in the future. Also, drainage networks, the more homes we have in the countryside, we really do need to deal with drainage, mains drainage throughout the Island. We cannot have a situation where so many of these communities are managing with failed drains, pumping that can be turned on at night and all this kind of thing. I think in the past that has been done and for some reason obviously it has stopped. I am sorry, I am creating a big, long shopping list for next Ministers that are going to go in the Government Plan. But that is the message, otherwise this will just be a plan on paper and not a real plan for our communities. I have spoken about protection of the countryside, they have really put a really high value on it and I do not think in the future any new Minister for the Environment is going to find it easy to come here and say: “I want to zone these fields.” I would be very surprised, unless of course the community elections give another message. I do not see it myself. I think the debate here has been very strong. Then of course that means investment in our open area, investment in the spaces between buildings, investment in trees and open space and investment in the infrastructure, schools and places for children to play. We had a good debate. I think yesterday I was thinking we concentrate very much on how close the facilities were to developments because perhaps Members might have overlooked the fact that we have put in a big amendment from Deputy Doublet that described what those play spaces are. These are not token play spaces, these are the real deal. Have a look at, when you get the draft plan, what is in there, Deputy Doublet’s amendment. There are going to be real strong requirements for that. I am going to just pick up a couple of points on Members’ comments because I am conscious of the time. I think the Chief Minister told us, how did we allow it, though we did not get the census result? It is being done independently. I have had no say on that, I do not think the Council of Ministers have any say about it. I wished we had had it but we have not. I do ask if we did know it, it is probably too late, we needed to know it a few months ago, we do not ... or at least a year ago, we do not. Deputy Gardiner, it is not enough, the housing, I think that is going to have to be urban housing. Deputy Gardiner asked: how did we assume 80 per cent yield from existing sites? It is based on past practice. Of course a key point, Deputy Gardiner pointed out about her unhappiness about open fields on the edge. I have taken the message that there will be no more strategic expansions on zoning of fields on the edges of St. Helier and St. Saviour. I think that is what is clearly the message coming from here; drawing a firm line. I think that is really important. Deputy Gardiner championed really strong amendments for disability, to assist those with a disability and that will show in the final plan.
The Constable of Grouville, I do feel sorry for him, he was put in a bad position with this requete. I am absolutely sure that the Connétable wanted to see some housing proposal to come forward for his young people in his Parish. But we heard what happened, he had to do what he was voted to do by his constituents. I do ask the question, I would be pretty upset if I was a young person that I did not have a chance to at least be considered. But there we are, that will be a future issue in that Parish. Of course the notion that we could have had 200 homes in Grouville, the notion that I would have ever thought it sensible. I do not know if I am allowed to say this, Sir, a cat in hell’s chance. Are you allowed to say that or is that not unparliamentary?
The Deputy Bailiff:
Probably not but you have just said it now. [Laughter] Yes, it is day 10.
Deputy J.H. Young:
Is that going through the Assembly? There was never, never a shred of a chance of that happening. Of course it would have destroyed the whole school, the whole nature of that area, so nobody wanted to see that. The Constable of St. John, I think everybody is making lovely remarks about the work done by the team and so on, nice complimentary remarks; I want to thank all those for that. I do not want to have to go through all those individually. I think he did point out about we skated over Overdale. My defence in putting that in the plan and this did not get discussed, I accepted 2 amendments - this is the hospital of course -, I accepted 2 amendments which I thought helped; an amendment from Senator Moore that added to the policy that if anything goes wrong with that development that we have got options there within that policy, and an amendment from Deputy Gardiner about the road network. My defence that it is in there is because it was voted by the States, the States policy. The Inspectors were asked about this and they said it would be perverse if the Minister did not include in the plan that which the States have decided. I will move on from that. I think throughout a number of Members’ speeches there is recognition of the tensions that exist in the planning system. No, I am afraid that is the real world. Whoever takes on the job of Minister for Planning, it is not a popularity thing, I can assure you. On any one matter you will please half the people and upset the other half and over the course of a duration you will have upset everybody at some time. I made the decision some time ago for personal reasons that I was not going to stand again in the election. Some Members say: “You should not be doing this, you are not going to be here.” But I took the view I can be objective about it, I can try and see through the issues and bring judgment to Members that Members will then decide, and I have said that every time; it is Members’ decisions. I think Members have done fantastically to help us get to this point. But of course Deputy Ward; Deputy Ward listed a whole lot of points which are really good. I am not going into them all but he says we need a new process, absolutely right. I think what I will probably do, I shall publish something separate for that after this event. Have a look at the back page of the Inspectors’ report, if you get a chance. I asked the Inspectors to tell us what they thought about process and I will not go through it now but it is worth reading and it gives a lot of clues. Then one of the things they say, they think our process, the good bit, is we put Members’ amendments subject to a public inquiry. In the past that never was the case. States Members could just cruise through the thing, put an amendment at the end, job done and no testing at the inquiry. They are saying they are very positive about it, so we ought not to lose that. Marine park, disappointed. Well, we are doing a spatial plan, so that will come in time, there is no question. The States-owned land, I have spoken about that and also Deputy Ward made points about green policies for carbon neutral. Of course we are going to be having that debate soon; very, very soon on the carbon neutral roadmap. A whole lot of actions there, all of which I spoke about. Of course play space for St. Helier schools he mentions, which I totally agree and I think we have agreed that already. He asked me to put things in the plan “minimum”, if I put the word “minimum” housing involved. Yes, all right, put it in bigger print. Deputy Guida, I think having heard Deputy Guida’s speech you now know why I was very, very keen to have Deputy Guida as my Assistant Minister for the Environment. His feel and understanding for the natural world is outstanding. We have divided the work up between us and to bring our strengths on to different areas. But there is not any doubt that we have to find better ways of looking after our natural environment. I have been at the conclusion for some time but we will need a new planning law. The current planning law does not, in my view, give us adequate respect and balance with the way in which we make environmental judgments against the pressures of development, and that needs to happen. If I was staying on in election, which I am not, that, I think, is an important issue and I think that probably really takes us to the points from a later speaker, the Constable of St. Lawrence. I am trying to skip over in view of the time. I am pleased the Chief Minister agrees that we have got a workable framework for our future. I think Deputy Pamplin, again, recognised the pressures between the economy and the environment. I think now I am going to move now to, yes, the Constable of St. Lawrence because I think this was a very, very significant submission. The Constable of course highlighted at the start that we have not done enough for affordable homes on States-owned land, that we need to do more and particularly as we are now being very clear we do not want to see agricultural land developed in the future. What we have done is, I think now from my point of view, we have to find solutions how we do that. Members have said they are up for tall buildings, as I have said, but that really puts big pressures on design and architects. Really what the Constable asked is if we had a different structure, and it was not the Minister for the Environment or if it was a Minister for Planning, would that help manage this? At the moment I cannot see an easy way to do this. There has always been a tension about this - not new - for decades this has gone on. I think one needs to strengthen the powers of the environment side and of course Members will know that I put forward a debate about changes to Ministerial structure. Because the reason why we had it called a Minister for the Environment is because it is named in the Standing Orders. Of course we can change Standing Orders and we could have all sorts of options. You could have a Minister for the Environment, you could have an Assistant Minister, whatever structure you make but, unfortunately, you are still going to have a conflict. But I think we need to bring it more on to an even footing and I think the new planning law, as Deputy Guida told us, is something that really should be given priority. I do apologise if I miss any amendments because I am worried about the time. Again, green issues and Deputy Southern, I was delighted that he mentioned Norman Le Brocq. He was the original green but of course he was a red before that. This question of whether they are red or green, are you more green or are you more red? But, clearly, Norman Le Brocq was a visionary forefather who, I think, was involved with the protection of Les Monts. I do remember once seeing a plan of St. Ouen’s Bay somewhere back in the 1960s was this plan, and guess what, it had it all covered over with a housing estate; let us build on all these rubbish tips out the west of the Island. Of course there was a big reaction to that and what happened? We had a big investment in looking after that area of the Island and now we have St. Ouen’s Bay, we have the national park, we have those restored areas of land. Why? Because some people bothered Norman Le Brocq. There were others, I think Bob Peyton, environment, lots of people. the people in the past. Of course one of the things with planning is it is long term. You do not get results straightaway. Thank you, I really appreciated that but of course then the Deputy says, what about photos of oil tanks, what about all this stuff? Come and vote for the carbon neutral roadmap, then I think we will find something. There will be things in there to deal with it. Senator Mézec, I think Senator Mézec made similar comments that we have just not got enough in about carbon neutral. We have made a start in there, have we not? The building regulation side is really significant, that will really force developers to adopt new construction methods and energy conservation techniques and so on. But it has got to be done with consultation, it has got to be done with proper process. We do not want unintended effects with the industry. Doing it in that way, rather than just adopting a policy today, which changes things tomorrow. It is better to do it with and give people a proper chance to be able to adapt to it. But I do agree with Senator Mézec, this choice about affordable homes, we do need to use public land or better. I really appreciated what Deputy Tadier said; Deputy Tadier supported me because he said when you are a Minister and you are a single-Member constituency you cannot do the constituency stuff that you want to do because of conflicts. Deputy Tadier has helped me, so has the Constable of St. Brelade, so has Senator Ferguson. The new structure will avoid that but, nonetheless, I just want to say thank you for the nice things he had to say. Here we are at 2.55 p.m., I apologise if there is anything that Members are expecting me to deal with that I did not and I will deal with that in clarification, if I may. But I think I have probably said enough and I make the proposition and ask for the appel, please. [Approbation]
The Deputy Bailiff:
The appel has been called for. Members are invited to return to their seats. Those joining the meeting via the Teams link are asked to cast their votes in the chat channel and I ask the Greffier to open the voting for Members in the Chamber. If all Members have had the opportunity of casting their votes, then I ask the Greffier to close the voting. I can announce that the Island Plan as amended has been adopted unanimously. [Approbation]
Senator I.J. Gorst
Senator L.J. Farnham
Senator S.C. Ferguson
Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré
Senator T.A. Vallois
Senator S.W. Pallett
Senator S.Y. Mézec
Connétable of St. Helier
Connétable of St. Lawrence
Connétable of St. Saviour
Connétable of St. Brelade
Connétable of Grouville
Connétable of Trinity
Connétable of St. Peter
Connétable of St. Mary
Connétable of St. Ouen
Connétable of St. Martin
Connétable of St. John
Connétable of St. Clement
Deputy J.A. Martin (H)
Deputy G.P. Southern (H)
Deputy of Grouville
Deputy K.C. Lewis (S)
Deputy M. Tadier (B)
Deputy M.R. Higgins (H)
Deputy S.J. Pinel (C)
Deputy of St. Ouen
Deputy R. Labey (H)
Deputy S.M. Wickenden (H)
Deputy of St. Mary
Deputy G.J. Truscott (B)
Deputy J.H. Young (B)
Deputy L.B. Ash (C)
Deputy K.F. Morel (L)
Deputy G.C.U. Guida (L)
Deputy of St. Peter
Deputy of Trinity
Deputy of St. John
Deputy M.R. Le Hegarat (H)
Deputy S.M. Ahier (H)
Deputy J.H. Perchard (S)
Deputy R.J. Ward (H)
Deputy C.S. Alves (H)
Deputy K.G. Pamplin (S)
Deputy I. Gardiner (H)
Deputy J.H. Young:
Sir, I wonder if I might just say a brief word …
The Deputy Bailiff:
You do not want to pause, do you?
Deputy J.H. Young:
May I just say a brief word of thanks? I want to thank the Members for their support. But I had it in my note, it was remiss of me, I want to thank and put it on record the work of the officers. [Approbation] I have a long list and it is always difficult to give out names but I am going to read out several names, 4 names, 2 from the Island Plan team and 2 from the Greffe.
Without this work we would not have had this successful debate. On the Island Plan team the 2 planning officers, they are in the gallery there, Mr. Kevin Pilley and Natasha Day. [Approbation] I do not think they have had a weekend, they do not know what a weekend is I do not know for how many months, but you will have to ask them privately. But without their work, unbelievably probably, it is outstanding. Then on the Greffe’s side, as you see this has been a really complex thing. The fact we have got through it, I think, so smoothly is a tribute to the work of I am told 2 members of the Greffe team, Rebecca Graham who has handled all the propositions for individual Members and without her the Members’ amendments would not have flowed so well for the system, and our Greffier, although he is absent today, Mark Egan, the running order was, I believe, a procedural masterpiece [Approbation] Of course there are lots of others members that have assisted in various parts in both the Greffe and the Planning team so I want to put that on record. [Approbation]
The Deputy of St. Mary:
You did say the vote had been adopted unanimously, could you advise how many did in fact vote?
The Deputy Bailiff:
Forty-five voted pour. Do you want them all? I would like to endorse and echo what the Minister said about all those who have played such a huge role in supporting this mammoth debate, the longest debate in over 10 years in the Assembly, and, as you have said, the Greffier’s running order has been a comfort blanket to us all over the last 2 weeks. I hope Members will enjoy a short period to recharge their batteries before we return afresh for next week’s meeting and I invite the chair of P.P.C. (Privileges and Procedures Committee) to give us an indication of her proposals for public business next week.
There are 25 propositions listed for the debate next week and all 4 meeting days set aside are likely to be required. It is also possible that the Assembly may need to take a decision about timings to fit everything in during the week. With that I propose the arrangement of public business for future meetings.
The Deputy Bailiff:
Thank you, is that seconded? [Seconded] Does any Member wish to speak on the public business for next week?
Clearly we are going to get to a point in the week where it looks like some of the items will have to be put over to the next sitting. I do not know at which point we address that. Mine is last on the Order Paper and I fully expect and am quite happy for it to roll over to the sitting after. I just wonder if there is any way we could decide which items need to be taken. Anyway, what I am saying is that for my part I am happy for that to be taken at the last sitting because I do not think we will get to it anyway.
The Deputy Bailiff:
The P.P.C. and the Greffier can consider any alterations which may assist with next week’s business. Does any other Member wish to speak?
I just wanted to say to Members it would be greatly appreciated, if there is an anticipation that we will need more time, I would very much appreciate consideration of carrying on the next week. My understanding is that if a debate were to go on from the Friday that the Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday of the next week would be considered as continuation days. I just wanted to put it in Members’ minds, just for consideration in advance, that for some of us with young children it is very helpful if we can continue during a work day rather than into the evenings. Obviously I am willing to do that, as I demonstrated last night, but it is much more preferable for people with babies and young children to continue on into work days rather than late at night where we are missing that important time to put our children to bed and things like that and relieve very tired partners who have otherwise been doing the childcare for a good 10 hours by that point. I just want to put that in Members’ minds and if they could consider their view on that before we get to next week I would be very grateful.
I hate to say this particularly after what has been a very long 2 weeks, but given the suggested pressure, is there any merit - and I hope people do not shoot me for this - in perhaps doing the usual questions and things on Monday afternoon. I know at one point that was the case and now have been told we are starting at 9.30 a.m. on Tuesday. I do appreciate we have had a very long time over the last 10 days.
The Deputy Bailiff:
Are you making a proposition?
Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré:
I do not mind making a proposition, I was just wondering what the view of the chair of P.P.C. might be on that front. I have not raised it previously. On my understanding, although we have a large number of debates there are some which clearly could be relatively straightforward.
It was just to say I understand the Chief Minister is trying to provide us with a helpful comment but having been in here for 2 weeks many Members will have urgent meetings backed up and I think, from my perspective, Monday is already full with urgent overdue meetings. [Approbation]
The Deputy Bailiff:
The mood of the meeting, Chief Minister, is probably resistant to sitting on Monday.
Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré:
That is okay, it was a rather reluctant suggestion but it was one that I thought might be at least worth making. No, I will not be making that proposition.
The Connétable of St. Martin:
It is fine if he has withdrawn his proposition. It is just that P.A.C. has a public hearing on Monday afternoon.
The Deputy Bailiff:
Does any other Member wish to speak before we adjourn?
Just briefly, I do not want to be presumptuous in regards to a month’s time but there are 38 propositions for the last sitting this year. I do not expect any answers today but I just wonder whether the chair of P.P.C. can consider how we might deal with that week. I am out of the Island the following week, others probably will be the same. What can we do to ensure that we can get through public business that week and what options are there?
The Deputy Bailiff:
Yes, I am sure P.P.C. are very alive to that issue, thank you for raising it.
Deputy R.J. Ward:
Just very quickly, if any propositions are going to be accepted by the Council of Ministers or Government perhaps that could be identified in advance and that might speed things up a little.
I just want to thank Senator Pallett for drawing our attention to the sitting in April. P.P.C. does have a meeting on Monday morning so we will consider everything that has been brought up just now in that Monday morning meeting and we will feed back to Members as soon as possible.
The Deputy Bailiff:
Senator I.J. Gorst:
I just wish to propose the adjournment and in doing so wish you many happy returns of the day. [Approbation]
The Deputy Bailiff:
I cannot think of a better way to spend my birthday than being involved in this sort of debate. I have no imagination.
Deputy J.H. Young:
Could I say your chairing most of the Island Plan was a huge contribution to the success of the debate? Thank you. [Approbation]
Connétable S.A. Le Sueur-Rennard of St. Saviour:
I could have sung happy birthday to you. Look what you missed. [Laughter] No, he does not deserve that after the 2 weeks we have just had, bless him. Happy birthday, Sir.
The Deputy Bailiff:
Is the adjournment seconded? [Seconded] The States stand adjourned until next Tuesday.