There’s never been an election like this before in Jersey. We are electing Deputies to be both representatives of the parish (or electoral district), and to tackle island wide issues. My manifesto page deals with the island wide part of that equation, but on this page I want to set out a parish manifesto.
Here’s a brief video setting out some of my thoughts on the challenges and opportunities we face, particularly regarding Les Quennevais.
I am a native of St Brelade – I grew up in the parish, and I’m lucky to be able to live with my family in my grandparents’ old house at Petit Port. This corner of Jersey feels like home in a very profound way. My kids go to local schools (Mont Nicolle and Les Quennevais) and my parents live in the parish, so I’m heavily invested in making St Brelade the best it can be from a variety of different perspectives.
It was interesting that one of the few good things to come out of the whole Covid experience was the chance it gave to explore and appreciate our parish anew. During lockdown, weeks went by when as a family we never left St Brelade, and that highlighted what a complete package our parish has: sandy beaches and spectacular cliffs, wide open dunes and green fields, essential shops and a range of community facilities.
In fact, in many respects our parish is a miniature version of the whole island. According to the statistics we’re pretty representative of Jersey. Not surprisingly therefore, many parish issues are also island issues. Nevertheless, there are some very particular issues that need to be dealt with in St Brelade.
I feel that there is a huge amount of unlocked potential in making St Brelade a better place to live, work and play. It is striking to me that there has been little sense of collective endeavour by our current representatives in the Assembly to work together to improve our parish. This election offers a chance to change that.
If elected, I commit to working together with my fellow Deputies and the Connétable to tackle parish issues. Most of these issues are not ideological, and can best be solved by bringing a collective effort to bear.
Agenda for change
This is a time of huge change for the parish. We are about to see the old Les Quennevais school turned into an offshoot of the hospital. The new Island Plan designates Les Quennevais as the island’s second urban centre. Pressure is building on the parish’s remaining open spaces – for example the proposal to build a vehicle testing station near the airport. As a parish we get lots of mega mansions, but relatively little invested in improving the public realm.
At the same time, there are opportunities.
- We’re about to see the opening of the long awaited skate park (although now slightly delayed), which is going to be such an exciting new facility.
- The urban centre designation means that we can push for improvements around Les Quennevais. At the moment we are a very long way from being able to call Les Quennevais a credible “town”.
- In the next few years there’s going to be a major programme to update the sports facilities.
- And we also need to start planning for the eventual release of the old school (once the new hospital is up and running) – ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to be involved in the debate over what happens to that vital site.
I believe Les Quennevais needs to offer more of the services for which we currently need to travel to St Helier.
If elected I will push for more government-run services to be provided in our parish.
We need a wider range of shops. Community facilities and services need to be refreshed and expanded. The shopping areas at Les Quennevais and Red Houses are in urgent need of rejuvenation, as is the Elephant Park. When I recently circulated a blog post about the rejuvenation of the Quennevais parade on Facebook, it attracted a huge number of responses, so it feels like this is something about which there is considerable public interest.
If elected, I will engage with stakeholders to seek improvements to Red Houses, the Quennevais Parade and the Elephant Park
I am very aware that there are very complex and difficult land ownership issues to tackle around the shopping areas, but this does not mean that no progress can be made. So much more could be achieved if the parish representatives worked together to create a “task force” for parish improvement, working with service providers like the youth service, and with local shops, and with community groups, to put our collective wisdom to work.
Since I returned to the island with my family I’ve been actively involved in many parish issues.
- I campaigned for the new skate park at Les Quennevais.
- I have fought against planning applications that over intensified development in the parish, for example at Petit Port and along Route Orange.
- I am involved in the parish climate change action group.
Anti social behaviour
Recent episodes of bus shelters being smashed, vandalism, and gatherings of people behaving in an aggressive fashion down at St Brelade’s Bay have highlighted a problem with anti-social behaviour in the parish. Recently I met with our local Community Police officer, and I’ve also spoken to the Youth Service. It is clear that much of the trouble comes from a small number of people, sometimes from outside the parish. I am impressed with the work being done by the police, the youth service and other agencies to tackle criminal behaviour. It is a strength of our parish system that we can adopt a multi-agency approach and deal effectively but sensitively with these issues.
If elected I will work with the police to identify measures that could help them tackle vandalism, and work with the relevant agencies to put in place early interventions that can help prevent people resorting to criminal activity.
Solving the problem requires a twin track approach. First a tough approach to so-called low level offences (sometimes called a “broken windows” strategy), to make it clear that such behaviour will not be tolerated. And second, a lot of hard work behind the scenes to understand the kind of social issues that lie behind delinquent behaviour.
Speeding is another issue that needs to be tackled. I believe we need to look at modernising the laws around the detection of speeding to make it easier for the police to clamp down on those who deliberately set out to break speed limits.
If elected, I will work with the Honorary and Jersey police to reduce speeding in the parish.
However, before we get too pessimistic about bad behaviour, it is worth taking a moment to be positive. Much good work is already underway. The new skate park at Les Quennevais will soon be finished, and should provide a terrific new facility for young people (and some not so young people) to meet and enjoy themselves. Funding has been secured for a youth worker to help supervise the site, and I am very optimistic that this will have many positive benefits for the community.
I believe passionately in protecting and enhancing St Brelade’s stunning natural environment. We are fortunate to have an amazing coastline, a rich and varied rural countryside, the open spaces of the sand dunes and an extraordinary concentration of heritage sites such as La Cotte.
I have fought against excessive and inappropriate developments in the past, and if elected I will continue to do so.
I am particularly keen to maintain facilities at St Brelade’s Bay, where there is a huge risk that hotels, shops and restaurant/cafes will be bought by developers to be turned into exclusive housing. The joy of our bays is that they are there for everyone, and that they have mix of different housing and cafe’s. I do not wish to see St Brelade’s Bay turned into a monoculture of expensive, top end housing and restaurants. Similarly, we need to fight to maintain access to coastal paths against the constant desire of some landowners to fence off land.
I have spoken elsewhere in my manifesto about the need for “renewal” at an island level, but that applies just as much to St Brelade. We need to use this opportunity to think about what kind of services we want in our parish. If Les Quennevais is really to deliver on the promise of being the island’s “second town”, then it needs to gain some of the functions of a town. As I’ve mentioned, we should push for government to base some of its services in the parish, so that people do not have to travel to town for everything. Some of the empty retail units could be used to deliver government services or for community groups to use.
We need a joined up approach.
If elected I would aim to work with my fellow Deputies and the Connétable as a team to deliver improvements.
The issues involved are complex, not least because for example ownership of land and properties at the Precinct is fragmented. However, the prize is a big one. By using the leverage provided by the “second town” designation, we can begin a comprehensive program of renewal at Les Quennevais. Over time, this can extend to include the old Les Quennevais School, once its role as a makeshift hospital is complete. My guiding principle for all these projects is partnership – we need to work with the community, with the relevant organisations (for example the youth service), with businesses and with government to build a better parish.
There are other improvements that can be made. Our recycling rates are too low, and we do not have a food or green waste collection service. This means there are many unnecessary trips being made to La Collette.
If elected, I will work to extend recycling facilities and collections in the parish.
We need to improve the provision of safe cycling and pedestrian routes, particularly around our schools. This election should be the launchpad for a major commitment to renew the parish, and involve the whole community in something really exciting.