‘Really good people’ needed to join development agency

A FORMER politician who has been involved in many local developments over several decades has said that it is important that the States appoints ‘really good people’ to serve on its new development agency.

Stuart Falla, whose P&R sub-committee has recommended the formation of the Guernsey Development Agency, would be happy to join if it approached. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 30462670)
Stuart Falla, whose P&R sub-committee has recommended the formation of the Guernsey Development Agency, would be happy to join if it approached. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 30462670)

Stuart Falla, who was once deputy chief minister, is chairman of a Policy & Resources sub-committee which is overseeing the establishment of the new body.

The Guernsey Development Agency is being proposed by P&R to States members in the spring and, if passed, a body will be created to oversee development of the harbours and eastern seafront.

It would operate at arm’s length from the States but take its strategic direction and operational parameters from government.

‘We have had at least 10 meetings discussing these matters and we helped P&R agree this policy letter,’ said Mr Falla.

As a non-States member of STSB he was involved with the work leading to a report last year with proposals for enhancing the St Peter Port seafront.

These were rejected by the States in favour of going back to the drawing board by setting up the development agency.

‘The argument was that there wasn’t enough information about the benefits of the harbour development,’ said Mr Falla.

‘It was more about how it would benefit the harbour rather than the whole of the eastern sea board.

‘Something has to be done and only by setting up something like this agency will you be able to take this bigger vision, as long as there is an overall States strategy.’

Mr Falla was chairman of the Garenne Group and its member company Camerons worked with the former Waterfront Enterprise Board in Jersey and with its successor, the Jersey Development Committee, on changes made to that island’s seafront.

The proposed Guernsey Development Agency, while having some similarities with both of these bodies, has some key differences too, one being that it will not act as a developer, said Mr Falla.

‘I think it’s reasonable to say that Guernsey has watched and observed the experience of these two and come up with a model that’s suitable for Guernsey.’

The States would set the policy and strategy and allow skilled people to bring these ideas to fruition.

‘This agency would be helping direct the ideas and help get planning ready, encouraging private developers to do things and sometimes going back to the States for them to decide whether to do it or not.

‘It would be taking more of a 25-year view, while the States takes a four-year view.’

Some projects could cross over into the responsibilities of several States committees and the agency would work with representatives of all these committees before coming up with final ideas.

But because the agency was not going to change following an election, its work could carry over.

‘Its members will be appointed to serve the agency all the way through.’

The agency would not be able to do anything that was not already within the States’ policies, but if it was felt that there was strong economic benefit, it would have to lobby to change the law.

‘The development agency could not change the law itself,’ said Mr Falla.

‘If it was a large infrastructure project that would require States money then only the States members could decide to do it.

‘I hope this agency gets through. I hope they find some really good people to serve on it.

‘On the assumption the States approve it then we go out and find members of the new agency. None of the people continue automatically [from the sub-committee].’

Someone with investment experience would need to be a member, as well as someone with a strong operational background.

‘You need to know how things work. You also need to have someone who is prepared to ask difficult questions. But they might choose to have someone who doesn’t have a development background.’

He said he would be likely to join the agency if approached.

‘It will be down to the politicians who are asked to decide whether or not they want me involved any further.’

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