Guernsey Press

GWP still has a role, insists Deputy Murray

The deputy responsible for driving the Government Work Plan – which sets out the States’ priorities – says it will need to have an overarching policy vision if it is to prove effective during future assemblies.

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Deputy Bob Murray. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 32926476)

Deputy Bob Murray took over responsibility for the GWP halfway through this States term, following Deputy Heidi Soulsby’s resignation from Policy & Resources in 2022, and prepared the way for its final ‘reset’, which was supposed to have been debated last summer to steer a course for the last two years before the next general election.

However, several delays meant it only came before members last week, and most of the contentious issues of prioritisation had already been thrashed out during funding debates – on the Funding & Investment Plan and the Budget.

Nevertheless, Deputy Murray said he believed the GWP had been a useful exercise and could continue to be relevant.

‘It served an excellent purpose by putting before us the extent of what we couldn’t do,’ he said. ‘The first iteration was necessary for people to understand what we’d inherited – some of it going back several assemblies, hence the bonfire of the extant resolutions.’

He admitted that members collectively lacked the discipline to deal with or ‘put paid to’ a large number of remaining, outstanding States decisions, but said the GWP still had a role.

‘I think it is necessary to keep it going because we are bringing our focus back to what we can actually deliver, rather than what we would like to do,’ he said.

‘What it really needs for the future is a vision. Government can’t go on expanding – not if the public are not prepared to fund that.’

Deputy Murray said his steering of the prioritisation process had taught him something about the unpredictability of the States’ collective thinking.

‘One assembly cannot bind another assembly,’ he said, ‘but what I didn’t realise is that that goes for the existing assemblies – so one States meeting can’t bind another States meeting. It is that fluid.’

During his closing GWP speech last Thursday, he paid tribute to those actually carrying out the work.

‘The civil service don’t complain,’ he said.

‘They do deserve a round of applause, frankly, because they do put a lot of effort in and they don’t get a lot of thanks for doing it – and they continue to deliver for us.’