Constables Hustings Meeting - St Clement
About 80 parishioners turned out last night to quiz the three men hoping to be elected as Constable of St Clement.
The hustings at the parish hall saw Deputy Gerard Baudains, Senator Len Norman and Centenier Edgar Wallis express views on a wide range of parish and Islandwide issues. They are vying to replace the present Constable, Derek Gray, who is retiring from office.
The first to ask a question was Neil McMurray, who wanted to know whether the candidates thought the Bailiff’s Liberation Day speech about the historical child abuse investigation was a scandal.
Senator Norman said that he was not prepared to either defend or condemn Sir Philip Bailhache, but added that his words ‘could have been chosen better’. Mr Wallis said he agreed, adding that the wording might have been ‘a bit silly’. He suggested that he did not think the Bailiff’s words came across as he had meant them. Deputy Baudains said he believed that Islanders should await the conclusion of the police’s investigation into alleged child abuse and suggested that he thought it was inappropriate to have raised the matter of media coverage during the speech.
Brian Nibbs asked whether the election hopefuls had experience of managing budgets the size of the parish’s annual spending of more than £750,000.
Mr Wallis said he did not, but would rely on the advice of the excellent parish hall team. Deputy Baudains replied that he had run businesses in UK and Jersey and that he had been responsible for cars worth more than £1 million in his workshop and so he had to know what he was doing. Senator Norman said he had managed much larger States budgets as a committee president, adding that parishioners would decide what was spent on each and every item.
Richard Dieter-Meyer asked what the candidates would do to reduce speeding.
Deputy Baudains said parishioners should set the limits. Senator Norman said he agreed, adding that it was important the parish worked alongside Transport and Technical Services to give residents what they wanted. Mr Wallis said that tougher penalties shoulkd be handed out to offenders, such as a six-month driving ban for those caught three times.
Derek Bernard asked whether the candidates supported GST and, if not, how they would fill the ‘black hole’ caused by the zero/ten tax system.
Senator Norman and Deputy Baudains said that they had always opposed the tax and would concentrate on cutting spending. Mr Wallis agreed that savings were paramount, adding that he would have supported GST, but not on food, children’s clothes, electricity or gas. He added that the rainy day fund should have been used to meet any shortfall.
Paul Matthams asked whether they would consider their parish role to be more important than their States responsibilities. All three said that the parish and parishioners would be their first priority.
David Peacock asked whether, if the Constables ceased to sit in the States, the candidates would want the parish to pay the salaries they lost. All three said no, as they would have time to earn elsewhere. Senator Norman added that he would reserve the right to stand for a different States seat while Constable.
Former Deputy Harry Baudains asked whether the three would always argue the views of their parish and deem debate in the States redundant. He asked whether they would listen and change their minds as a result of such debate.
Deputy Baudains and Mr Wallis said they would be unbending in representing electors’ views. Senator Norman said that his first priority was to represent his parishioners, but added that he would find it hard to go against his principals.
Elizabeth Etienne wanted to know whether the candidates would stand for Deputy if they were unsuccessful in the election. Senator Norman and Mr Wallis said ‘definitely not’. Deputy Baudains said probably not, but could be persuaded if electors wanted it.
Alan Carter asked whom they would support to be Chief Minister. Senator Norman and Deputy Baudains both said Alan Maclean and Mr Wallis said he did not know as there was nothing to chose between the likely hopefuls.
Brian Nibbs asked whether the candidates had a ‘first lady’ who would support them. Senator Norman and Mr Wallis said that they had very supportive wives. Deputy Baudains joked that his ex-wife would be supportive and added that if he was required to have a ‘female of the species’ at any event, then he would have one.
Other questions asked included the following: John Doublet asked about reducing the speed limit in Rue de Samarès; Alan Le Breton asked what the candidates would do to protect parishioners’ health in the light of health concerns about a new incinerator; Deputy Ian Gorst asked whether they would support the creation of an eastern cycle path; David Shaw asked for ways to swell the ranks of the honorary police; and Mr McMurray asked how they would encourage younger voters to engage in parish affairs.
Parishioners will get another chance to meet and question the candidates over a free cup of coffee at the parish hall on Saturday between 10 am and 2 pm. Polling day is 15 October.
[ Source : This Is Jersey ]