Guernsey Press

WATCH: Hundreds say no to GST as debate begins

Deputies are pushing ahead with discussions on tax reforms today, after a delaying motion was defeated yesterday.

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A placard-waving crowd of a few hundred greeted deputies as they headed for the States yesterday for day one of debate on Policy & Resources’ tax plans which include a goods and services tax. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 31725417)

Debate started yesterday morning after more than 300 islanders packed the Royal Court steps, waving placards to show their anger and frustration over the prospect of a 5% GST.

The proposed tax forms the heart of Policy & Resources’ Tax Review plans, which include a new 15% income tax band and social security reforms, as the States grapples with an expected funding shortfall approaching £100m. a year in the near future.

Placards, banners and red ribbons flooded St James Street as passionate protesters hurled chants and some verbal abuse at the deputies supporting Policy & Resources’ proposals.

  • Listen: Simon De La Rue and Matt Fallaize recap the first day of debate on 'Shorthand States', our bite-sized daily round-up podcast

P&R president Peter Ferbrache was swarmed by protesters, who even shouted in his face and blocked his access to the door.

Employment & Social Security president Deputy Peter Roffey was also on the end of considerable anger from a heated crowd, as were other Policy & Resources members – though not all used the main entrance.

Other States members, such as Heidi Soulsby, who submitted an amendment, were cheered and celebrated as they made their way through the people to the door.

Deputies started debating Deputy Soulsby’s ‘Fairer Alternative’ late yesterday, which has a focus on spending cuts, but could also include GST in the long term.

Deputy Charles Parkinson, who opposes GST, was pleased with how many people turned out yesterday for the protest.

‘I hope it persuades them that there is massive public opposition to GST and that they will realise that if they support GST that their seats are going to be on the line,’ he said.

  • Watch: Hundreds turn out to make their feelings clear to deputies

Protesters had many reasons to line up in a bid to block GST.

Senior PR manager Marc Breton said that islanders were already being taxed too much.

‘The spending is out of control and they really just need to review their amount of staff – and Peter Ferbrache just really needs to listen to the public and resign,’ he said.

Mr Breton is not the only person to call for Deputy Ferbrache’s resignation.

A petition calling for whole of P&R to resign has received 150 signatures, while Deputy Parkinson said that should the committee be defeated in the next few days, he will call for a snap general election.