In her first general update, Deputy Yvonne Burford said that the committee had decided to tackle this subject in view of there having been a lot of attention focused on the airport and air travel in recent years but little on the policies regarding the island’s links by sea: ‘We will seek to clarify how the States of Guernsey can secure its future sea connectivity, determine how effectively the current policy has been implemented, and assess whether the Bailiwick’s current sea connectivity policy is fit for purpose,’ she said.
It was pointed out by several members that work in the area of sea travel was already being done by other committees, such as Economic Development, which Deputy Sasha Kazantseva-Miller said was already undertaking a ‘significant sea link review’.
In addition, Deputy Victoria Oliver said that during the last States term various votes had taken place leading to a lot of money being allocated to prepare reports on travel links, and she wondered if SMC’s work was needed.
Deputy Burford said that there was probably never going to be a perfect time for a review on any issue, but Scrutiny could take a wider role and bring together all the reports that exist to put toward making a cohesive decision. It would work with any committee that had a special interest in the subject.
She also told members that a report prepared by the previous SMC on Freedom of Information would also be published, along with the new committee’s covering report and its own recommendations.
Further reviews will take place over the year, including a public hearing with P&R which will look at its Government Work Plan, and SMC will also hold ‘snap hearings’ should the need arise.
In response to a question from Deputy Chris Le Tissier, Deputy Burford said that SMC had a review of the circumstances and the effectiveness of the provision of the Agilisys contract ‘within its sights’, and exchanges had already taken place on the topic between SMC and P&R.
Elaborating to Deputy Neil Inder, she said that SMC had requested sight of the contract: ‘It’s something we will be looking at and certainly within the very early part of this scrutiny panel’s work,’ she told him.
During her update, Deputy Burford had also told members that the committee would be looking at ‘a mature and thorough re-consideration of how financial scrutiny arrangements might be enhanced in the future’.
She said there seemed to be some confusion in some quarters about SMC doing this and she said that it had all the powers of the former Public Accounts Committee and there was no need for this body to be reinstated.