Eastern seaboard development ‘key to the island’s future’

DEVELOPMENT of Guernsey’s east coast and associated infrastructure improvements could be key to enhancing the island’s future, the president of the Chamber of Commerce has said.

Diane de Garis, president of the Chamber of Commerce, highlighted her ambitions and priorities for the island at the Chamber lunch yesterday.
(Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 31573723)
Diane de Garis, president of the Chamber of Commerce, highlighted her ambitions and priorities for the island at the Chamber lunch yesterday. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 31573723)

Diane de Garis was speaking at the final Chamber lunch of the year, highlighting building more housing and the eastern seaboard development as one of the island's top strategic goals for the next couple of years.

‘The housing crisis goes hand-in-hand with the recruitment crisis and links into population management, and of course to retaining and attracting a workforce to the island,’ she said.

‘Generally there has been a chronic under-investment in Guernsey infrastructure over the past 20 years. The development agency could be key to unlocking this with the development of the eastern seaboard now on its second official reading. This is a multi-generational opportunity that needs to be addressed.’

Mrs de Garis said that, if executed properly, such development could be a game-changer for the environment, infrastructure, tourism, life quality, residential and commercial spaces, and transport and leisure matters for Guernsey.

‘The gateway to Guernsey could be amazing with real benefits for the future of our island, so we want the vision to be the right one for Guernsey, one that our community will back,’ she said.

She added the development of human capital and external relations to the list of strategic priorities.

Mrs de Garis said that data was needed on the skills gaps in the island, and government needed to track this.

‘If we don’t, we can’t hope to address the problems,’ she said.

Policy decisions were needed on child care, maternity and paternity leave, and flexible working.

‘Modern working needs to be factored in,’ she said.

The profile, credibility and connectedness of Guernsey in relation to external trading partners needed to be raised, particularly the working relationship with Jersey and France. She questioned whether the island was making the most of the Bureau des Iles Anglo-Normandes, which represents the governments of Guernsey and Jersey in France.

She felt that a level playing field for local businesses with regards to technology was needed.

‘As the world moves forward, automating everything, Guernsey is falling out of the chain. We see this with payment platforms that won’t accept Guernsey companies, and credit card companies exiting the island largely because processes are automated and there is no manual Guernsey override option any more. This has worsened over the last 10 years, even though we are making some progress on removing barriers, but everywhere else is moving a bit quicker.

‘Chamber’s overriding ambition is to enable businesses in Guernsey to thrive – to bring people together, help make connections and remove barriers.’

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