Constables Hustings Meeting - St Peter
Safeguarding Islanders’ bank deposits was a hot topic at last night’s Constable hustings in St Peter.
More than 200 people attended St Peter’s community centre and fired 18 questions at Deputy Collin Egré and Procurer du Bien Public John Refault, who are both vying for the seat of Constable.
The current financial crisis was in the back of many parishioners’ minds as they asked questions about bank deposits, the Esplanade Quarter, a third supermarket, tourism, the incinerator and new developments in St Peter.
At the meeting, which was chaired by St Peter Constable Tom du Feu, who is due to retire after eight years, John Evans asked the candidates if they supported the Chief Minister’s recent announcement to guarantee Islanders’ bank deposits without a limit.
Deputy Egré said: ‘One of my main concerns is that the Chief Minister said that we should diversify the economy. ‘We have not and we have ended up with a huge big problem.’ He said that he would support a guarantee of a certain amount but to guarantee unlimited funds was a ‘very dangerous exercise’. ‘You are actually saying to the industry we would support you to bankruptcy,’ he said.
Mr Refault said it was a difficult balance to make, with some people wanting their deposits protected and another group of people on minimum income asking ‘Why was our rainy day fund used?’ ‘The rainy day fund is for a rainy day, and the weather forecast is not looking too healthy,’ he said.
Chris Benest asked if the candidates supported the Esplanade Quarter development on the Waterfront or thought it was a ‘complete waste of money’.
Mr Refault said that the design was wrong because it could be anywhere and did not say anything about Jersey. He said: ‘The way things are evolving right now, that considerable amount of development seeks to attract the very banks which are struggling to survive and looking to the government to support them.’ He urged the States to have a rethink, and this was echoed by Deputy Egré, who said that the proposed financial district should be ‘put on hold’. The States Member said it would be ‘foolhardy to do it in the current climate’.
Centenier Richard Honeycombe asked whether they supported new plans for the Watersplash and Sunset Nurseries.
Mr Refault said that the nursery was a ‘blot on the landscape’ and he said that the Watersplash was an ‘eyesore’ and the sooner something was done about it the better. Deputy Egré said he was for the development of the Watersplash and said that the Sunset Nurseries did not ‘look particularly attractive’ and should come down.
Gordon Forrest asked the candidates what they would do to get the Council of Ministers to promote a shrinking tourism industry.
Mr Refault said that the Island needed a film produced in the Island or a repeat of Bergerac, which he described as ‘one of the best things that ever happened to Jersey’. Deputy Egré said that the failure to invest in tourism or agriculture was now ‘coming home to roost’. ‘The finance industry is in crisis and we are putting money in to prop it up,’ he said.
Julie Rabet asked the prospective Constables what their views were regarding the proposed £105 million incinerator and the recycling schemes introduced in parishes.
Deputy Egré said that the location of the proposed incinerator worried him, as it would be situated close to the fuel farm. He cited the Buncefield explosion of 2005 as a comparison. John Refault used stronger language to say that the cost of the incinerator was exorbitant and cheaper options could be potentially viable. He referred once again to the Chief Minister’s decision to use the rainy day fund for deposits and asked whether it was sensible to spend £105 million on an incinerator in these times.
The next question from Graham Le Lay sought views on a third supermarket and whether that would have big influence on local businesses.
Deputy Egré said that he did not want a third supermarket in the Island and said that larger supermarket chains could take other businesses out by lowering the prices, and eventually things would ‘come home to roost’. ‘Once they take over the market share, prices will rise,’ he added. Mr Refault said that he agreed with Deputy Egré that a third supermarket would be damaging in the long term. He said that Sandpiper CI or Co-operative might well consider their options in the face of a large supermarket coming to the Island.
Other topics included electoral reform, parking issues, rezoning and development of land at the Airport.
[ Source : This Is Jersey ]