Nick Mann

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Big decisions that brought four years to a conclusion

In the final part of the round-up series looking at the key votes taken by this States, Nick Mann looks at an almost frenetic period for the government – deputies revisited and said ‘yes’ to island-wide voting, rejected the introduction of a reciprocal health agreement with the UK and approved the scrapping of the 11-plus and closing a secondary school

At-a-glance guide to key votes of this Assembly

Back in October 2012 members rejected a requete that called for a trial period of Sunday trading. But the debate did lead to a promise from Commerce and Employment that it would prepare a full report into the issue, which subsequently saw the Assembly discussing it again at the end of 2015 and voting for full deregulation.

As nominations open in the 2016 General Election, Nick Mann begins a series looking back on the key votes of this term. This week he looks at the 2012 vote on States members’ pay, an early (failed) attempt to move towards Sunday trading, the Strategic Plan, residential qualifications and managing the States’ property portfolio

PSD and the whole sorry saga of a wasted strategy

Picture By Peter Frankland. 15-01-16 Generic Mont Cuet pictures.

Deadlines missed and key elements dropped, coupled with soaring capital costs – the Public Services Department’s waste strategy has seen so many twists and turns over this political term, resulting in people struggling to believe in the ever-changing plans that set out to deal with the island’s waste and whether they will ever be good value for money

Answers needed on the ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ deal

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There remain many questions about the bond of £330m. which the States took out in 2014. Not least of these involves the absence of predicted costs. Efforts by Deputy Laurie Queripel to get some answers have not led to anything more than broad-brush responses, but the public deserves to know more – if only to convince them that this was a good deal

The puzzle of engagement

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With the electoral roll now closed it has emerged that about 20,000 people have not signed up. How could these people be more engaged? While island-wide voting is seen by many as a ‘magic bullet’ that could see disenchanted islanders returning to the roll, is there perhaps another way to get people interested in local politics?

The £400,000 question

Island wide voting graphic for politics.

In the 13 years since the States passed a policy to instigate referendum legislation it has failed to do so. Why can’t government just be brave enough to do what it has been tasked with and make a decision on island-wide voting, having all the information before it already?

Education needs to do a lot of convincing over its plans

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The Education Department is again under fire as its proposals to abolish the 11-plus and create a single secondary school over four sites have been criticised from several angles. If it wants to push them through in the life of this Assembly, there are some things it needs to do in order to show everyone that what it is proposing is better than what the island has...

Comments undermine sensible discussion of refugee decision

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Use of the word ‘Islamophobia’ by the chief minister last week has instigated a slew of coverage in the national media and attracted the attention of a few far-right groups. But if there are sound reasons for the island not to take in Syrian refugees any debate on the issue is now going to be difficult following his ill-thought-out comments...

Misplaced secrecy a stumbling block to effective government

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Two critical, if dissimilar, issues were propelled into States debate last week – the matter of herbicide glyphosate in local streams and the reciprocal health agreement, both topics where greater clarity would have led to a far quicker and better-understood conclusion

Lack of scrutiny only adds to housing policy failure

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With the average property costing 15 times the average salary and a housing market that has all but completely stalled, Nick Mann says a body independent of the Treasury and Housing departments is needed to scrutinise the issue of housing and what has become a failed States policy

Spending scrutiny should extend to States partners

Politics. Scrutiny.Generic money under the magnifying glass.

Public spending is always under the taxpayers’ magnifier, but scrutiny of expenditure can hit a wall when money is paid out to government partners which do not publish public accounts. Nick Mann argues that if money is going to be spent outside States departments, taxpayers should still be able to know their contribution is being used in the right way

It is not just approving new laws that needs speeding up

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A suggestion that new laws should be ratified on-island and be sent to the UK Privy Council only for review sounds like an attractive proposition from the point of view of getting these laws approved quickly. But Nick Mann wonders if doing this really will speed things up and points out that the States’ record is far from good in getting new laws drafted in the first place

Lobbying shows power of liberating the people’s voice

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Lobby groups have proved very effective in influencing debate during this political term – from Enough is Enough’s demonstrations on taxes to Liberate’s successful efforts on same-sex marriage. But with the island having no referendum legislation, Nick Mann argues that there is still a democratic deficit when it comes to everyone having their say

States meeting set to make big changes to island life

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Decisions made by the States this week are set to have a major and almost immediate effect on life in Guernsey. With the return of the subject of Sunday trading deregulation and proposals to legalise same-sex marriage, members are facing issues that have galvanised some sections of the island and ignited heated social media discussion. But, writes Nick Mann, it’s healthy to have pluralist arguments and differing viewpoints

Population report says little about growth consequences

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While removing any actual numbers from their talk of population growth might leave ministers thinking they’re onto a winner, Nick Mann suggests that this will leave the next Assembly with an abstract policy with no idea of exactly how many people the island needs to keep it running. But perhaps they could look back at the 2007 population report to get an idea...

States policies subject to fraught money wrangle

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With the Treasury department effectively saying no to any new funding requests in an attempt to balance the books, and likely to continue with that stance through to the end of the political term, States members have been left in the unenviable position of putting favourable proposals on the back burner

Population demographics must accommodate youth

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In light of recent debate on population targets and what shape the island should take demographically, Nick Mann writes that although the States has signalled the need for a vital and productive working population, it may be striking the wrong balance when it comes to policy consideration and not focusing on the aspirations of younger generations

A time of contradictions as spin cycle kicks in

Everyone gets along and looks for new friends and allies at the start of a States term, but after a couple of years these alliances may end up broken – and there may even be calls for resignations from boards at the heart of controversial policies.

With the next general election a mere six months away, Nick Mann takes a look at the life cycle of the Guernsey States, starting with the honeymoon period where everyone is getting along but not much happens, through to the time after the first big embarrassment and people have declared it the ‘worst States ever’ – and then the Assembly enters maximum spin cycle...

States’ sweeping statements are too often set on sand

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A quick glance at the annual business trends survey released in the summer reveals a drop in confidence in the economy, one that is at odds with Treasury minister Gavin St Pier’s view that general business optimism has become increasingly positive