P&R president Ferbrache vows to be unifying force

THE politician who led Guernsey through the Covid crisis and topped the polls in last week’s general election has been ousted from the top job in the States.

New president of Policy & Resources Peter Ferbrache. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 28807642)
New president of Policy & Resources Peter Ferbrache. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 28807642)

Deputy Gavin St Pier lost the battle to continue as president of Policy & Resources to Deputy Peter Ferbrache by 23 votes to 17, and he looked stunned as he left the court building yesterday.

It means that Deputy Ferbrache also automatically becomes the head of the body responsible for the pandemic response, the Civil Contingencies Authority.

After the secret ballot, Deputy Ferbrache said that he would put forward Deputy Heidi Soulsby’s name for the vice-president position on P&R, and Deputies Mark Helyar and Jonathan Le Tocq as other members of that senior committee.

He promised a ‘coalition of talents’ and he tipped Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen to become the new head of Education, Sport & Culture.

Speaking soon after the result was announced, Deputy Ferbrache said he was honoured and delighted, and was determined to heal the divisions within the States.

‘I will do my absolute best to bring the States together, I’m very pleased and I hope that I can put forward four potential members of P&R that will be willing to serve and represent the different views of the States cohesively over the next four-and-a-half years.’

A word that was frequently mentioned during Deputy Ferbrache’s speech to the new Assembly was ‘action’, and he railed against the plans, visions and strategies that he said people had had enough of.

He also wanted to see an end to ‘sophomoric regulations’ and red tape that were bogging down States procedures.

‘I’m not a theory person, I’ve always been a practical lawyer, I’ve always been a practical thinker, people want to make sure their kids have got decent schools, and if they’re old people they want to make sure they keep their homes and are well cared for – they don’t care about “Revive and Thrive” [strategy] or whatever we call it, they want action, they want problems solved.’

Setting out his stall for the next term, Deputy Ferbrache announced a shake-up in committee communications so the presidents meet monthly, and he vowed to resolve secondary education, and he pledged not to borrow money that could not be repaid or did not have specific use.

The economy was highlighted as the most important priority, which underpinned the States’ social and environmental aspirations.

However, on the top of Deputy Ferbrache’s ‘to-do list’ over the next few days, aside from the committee elections, is to talk to as many people as he can and he promised to hit the ground running.

‘My door will always be open, it was a secret ballot but it’s pretty un-secret as regards certain people who would not be voting for me, I’ll speak to them and say, look we’ve got to work together, you may not agree with me, you’ve got different emphasis, you wanted to see Deputy St Pier as the president, but I’m not the president for the next four years and eight months, so let’s work together.’

Deputy Ferbrache is well known in the island as a consultant advocate, but said he would now step away from that so he could concentrate ‘110%’ on his new job.

Asked about whether he could connect with low-income islanders, he referred to his under-privileged start in life.

‘My beginnings were very different to where I am now, I went to Vauvert Infants and Amherst Junior School, then I went to Elizabeth College; my friends that were at the infants and junior school called me Pete and my friends at Elizabeth College called me Peter, and they’re all still my friends.

‘So I think I’ve got complete empathy, more than those that might have been born into the middle classes.’

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