Senators Hustings Meeting - St Lawrence
St Lawrence Parish Hall was packed to hear the 21 Senatorial election hopefuls give their views on a variety of subjects at last night’s hustings meeting.
The candidates each answered six questions at the meeting, chaired by retiring parish Constable Geoffrey Fisher, dealing with everything from the Bailiff’s Liberation Day speech to whether or not the public should elect the Chief Minister.
Candidates were also asked whom they would elect as Chief Minister. Many said they would have to wait to see who stood and a number said that they would back Senator Ben Shenton. Chris Perkins said he would support Deputy Alan Breckon and Nick Le Cornu said he wished Deputy Roy Le Hérissier would put his name forward,
Lynne Howgate asked what the candidates would do to improve the bus service. As a St Lawrence parishioner, she said the first bus to town was 8.10 am, which was too late to go to work, and the last one from St Helier was at 5.50 pm, which was too early for shop workers to get back.
Deputy Alan Breckon said that the existing Connex service may have included Transport Minister Guy de Faye’s ‘pub-to-pub route’ but was not ‘topped and tailed’. He said that people wanted to see investment in connecting services.
Mark Forskitt said that he lived in St Ouen and ‘there is nothing on a Sunday’. He added: ‘The service also needs to be more flexible on what buses carry. It is difficult for people with children’s buggies and wheelchairs.’
Deputy Alan MacLean said there had been an increase in services as a result of investment but that there were not enough bus routes serving the rural parishes.
Ian Le Marquand only left a few seconds to answer the question in the allotted time but said: ‘The bus service needs to be improved but it’s not my decision.’
Deputy Geoff Southern said that the buses only seemed to go out in the hours of daylight but he warned that the service could not be improved without cost.
Senator Paul Routier did not have time to give a detailed response but said that he knew there was a need for improvements to the service.
Senator Mike Vibert said an increase in parking charges could help to pay for a better bus service. ‘Don’t think there is a free lunch on this. It will cost,’ he said.
Mike Higgins said he would fight for a better bus service. ‘We need to get people weaned off the car by providing a viable alternative,’ he said.
Nick Palmer said that Guernsey’s bus service ‘wiped the floor’ with the Jersey service. He said that minibuses should be provided to make it more integrated.
Cliff Le Clercq said that Weston-super-Mare in the west of England brought in a private company to take over its loss-making services. The company sold half the buses and bought minibuses and it now made a profit. He added that it was not fair that people go to the cinema by bus but cannot get home by bus at night.
Deputy Peter Troy said he would contact Transport and Technical Services on behalf of the questioner to look at bus timings, although he said she might want to ask her own parish Deputy first.
Trevor Pitman said that the service was bound to improve because ‘Deputy de Faye is going to be redundant soon’. ‘If the powers that be had listened, we would have a better bus service by now,’ he added.
Adrian Walsh said it cost £3 million to run the existing service and that it was not a decent one. He said an efficient service would get cars off the road and reduce emissions. ‘Get someone who can run a bus service for that money,’ he said.
Mick Pashley joked that there were no buses on a Sunday because the finance industry was closed and there were not enough people for the States to be concerned about.
Deputy Sarah Ferguson said there ‘was nothing from St Brelade to St Ouen on a Sunday’. She said a new Connex contract was soon to be agreed and gave an undertaking that the Public Accounts Committee, which she chairs, would ensure that there was value for money. She added that the availability of more money depended on getting States finances under control.
Senator Philip Ozouf said the bus service had been improved but was not good for areas where there was a low population density. He believed that an improved service could be funded by a levy on commercial car parking spaces.
Montfort Tadier did not leave much time to answer the question but said that the Island needed an improved service.
Green candidate Daniel Wimberley said the greens were the only people who could be trusted on the question of public transport. He said that a bus service could be run at a profit but that the States would first have to invest to save – not a policy he said that accountants could understand.
Jeremy Maçon said that Guernsey had a much better system than Jersey and that the reason was that ‘they asked the people what they wanted’.
Chris Perkins said that environmental taxes could pay for much-needed improvements to the bus service that would make it attractive to use.
Nick Le Cornu said that insufficient resources had been put into the bus system. He argued that because the main users were the poor and the elderly, sitting States Members did not see that as important enough.
[ Source : This Is Jersey