Guernsey Press

States’ new development agency gets cut back

THE States has severely cut back the role and budget of its new development agency for at least the next 18 months.

Deputies set up the agency this time last year to kick-start ambitious development projects along the east coast. (32051566)

Deputies set up the agency this time last year to kick-start ambitious development projects along the east coast.

They agreed to give it an annual budget of £500,000 and three full-time members of staff.

But its budget has now been slashed to just £100,000 a year.

And it has been told it will operate with no additional staff and be restricted largely to research and administrative tasks for the rest of this year and all of next year while the Development & Planning Authority draws up local planning briefs for the harbours.

Deputies were informed of the change of plan in an unpublished memo circulated by Policy & Resources Committee president Peter Ferbrache.

‘Until the local planning briefs are in place, the agency’s work will be limited to providing comment on the draft local planning briefs as they evolve, undertaking research into development delivery options and preparing a funding and business plan,’ he said in the memo.

‘Given the reduced scope of the agency initially, the political oversight group has agreed to reduce the funding provided to the agency from £500,000 per annum, as was proposed in the March 2022 policy letter, to £100,000 per annum.’

The political oversight group, which oversees the agency, comprises Deputies Ferbrache, Neil Inder and Lindsay de Sausmarez. The agency is chaired by Stuart Falla.

It was originally meant to have six directors, but this has now been cut to four, although the memo states that there will be ‘a new recruitment campaign in 12 months’ time with a focus on diversity of the board’.

Mr Falla was selected as chairman in July last year. Since then, he and two interim directors of the agency have been paid £30,000.

The States is expected to ratify the agency’s directors in July this year.

‘It is considered that the combination of skills on the proposed agency board, and the executive nature of these roles, means that there is more than sufficient ability within the agency to deliver on its initial remit without having to bring in additional staff,’ said Deputy Ferbrache in the memo.

‘Detail on the longer-term funding arrangement for the agency will be included in the funding and business plan, which will require political approval.’

Deputy Ferbrache insisted that the States remained fully committed to its new development agency.

‘Timing is on track,’ he said.

‘The establishment of a development agency is vital to the delivery of economic, social and environmental benefits. This is even more important given the current pressures on Guernsey’s economy and infrastructure.

‘P&R is confident that a professional, well-briefed agency, working to well thought-out and agreed strategic guidance, can be delivered in this political term. This will pave the way for the Guernsey Development Agency to function successfully for many years to come.’

The local planning briefs being prepared by the DPA will set out guidance for the development of the Town and Bridge harbours. Drafts will be put out to public consultation and final versions will need the approval of the States.

P&R expects this process to take about 18 months.