So said Alderney representative Steve Roberts yesterday, as he updated Guernsey’s States members at the January meeting.
In answer to a question from Deputy Chris Blin concerning the economic outlook for young families, Mr Roberts said there was a problem but that it was no worse than the issue facing Guernsey.
‘I can’t believe some of the rental [prices] in Guernsey,’ he said. ‘That’s a real problem. We don’t have that problem. Perhaps we can encourage – or poach – some of your younger people to come and work in Alderney because of our lower housing costs.’
He did concede that some costs facing Alderney residents were higher than in Guernsey, with unleaded petrol currently £1.97 a litre.
In an update lasting 55 minutes, including questions, Mr Roberts said Alderney had broken even in 2021, despite having to cancel Alderney Week and the island’s annual hill climb due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Revenues were bolstered by property taxes from a buoyant housing market.
‘Now that Alderney can retain the duties it collects,’ he said, ‘this excess will be held in a reserve fund which can be used to offset any future challenges.’
He said he hoped the popularity of staycations for Guernsey visitors over the pandemic would continue to work well for Alderney, in addition to the return of UK tourists.
Work had been carried out, he said, to enhance the Nunnery and the Odeon direction-finding tower as tourist attractions.
A quarter of the population had engaged in a recent survey and had identified transport connectivity as the top priority, he said.
Several expressions of interest are currently being considered for a summer ferry service to and from Guernsey and, pending approval from Policy & Resources, a runway extension would secure future air links and would, in the long run, save Aurigny a fortune.
During 2022, Mr Roberts said proposals would be brought forward for the provision of early years and nursery services, as well as the introduction of a minimum wage, to build on progress made during 2021 on employment rights.
He also detailed the improvements that were intended for the harbour, which had experienced problems with its crane and pontoon during 2021, incurring financial losses.