Quick questions

All these questions were asked by the JEP’s political editor Ben Queree, perhaps based in part or wholly on reader suggestions. Candidates were limited to 100 words for each answer. But at least when you are writing you have time to think! So although not exhaustive, these answers give a pretty good idea in miniature of the way I see things.

Ageing population

Should Jersey adopt the Guernsey system of making extra social security payments to provide for an ageing population?

Any system should reward those who have saved, but not reduce anyone, whether unwise or unlucky, to unacceptable living standards. Older people should not be anxious over whether their care needs will be met.

We age differently, our care needs, and the associated cost, very widely. Our physical and mental health will determine our care needs so health promotion is vital.

If we build social networks, where care becomes part of the informal economy, the need for paid care declines.

The answer to the question is yes, provided it is the technically best option, bearing in mind the above points.

Education

What proportion of further education fees should parents be required to pay?

Three issues here. First, top-up fees. I believe it is unwise, at this time of systemic economic uncertainty, to saddle anyone with debt, where this can be avoided, as in this case.

Second, how to fund fees. The administrative costs of the present system could perhaps be reduced by funding fees out of general taxation. The trouble is, our taxation system is neither particularly progressive nor inclusive. User pays, as in this case, is therefore preferable.

The exact scales have evidently been worked out to be fair, I would investigate all sides if any changes were being suggested.

Health

Should the States pay more towards the cost of visits to the doctor?

The principle is clear: no-one should be barred from going to the doctor because they cannot afford it.

I believe in equal opportunities. So that everyone can enjoy their life to the fullest possible extent. The emphasis has to be on health promotion, better and cheaper than cure, but when illness, disability or accident strike, then we all owe it to each other to help out. That is how our society works and it took a lot of struggle to get to this point.

The details of the funding – insurance, taxation, means testing etc.- are means to an end.

Housing

How would you make accommodation more affordable for all Island residents?

Four policies. First, scrap the disastrous policy of growing the population. Net inward migration: 2005: 300.   2006: 700.   2007: 1100. No wonder that house price inflation is over 20% !  What is going on? Could they not foresee the effect on house prices?

Second, build houses on the waterfront, not offices. This with better use of town sites, would cater for within-population needs.

Third, tax increase in land value upon rezoning. Fourth, investigate a) the effect of non-resident investors on the market b) feasibility of controls on the selling on of homes.

Law and order

Should Jersey introduce UK-style measures against anti-social behaviour, such as ASBOs and dispersal zones, where only limited numbers can congregate?

Anti-social behaviour can make people’s lives hell. The quickest way to end the hell is evidence-based, effective action.

We must avoid unintended consequences, e.g. the well-documented wearing of an ASBO as a badge of honour.

We have to build social capital, in particular opportunities for people to meet, co-operate and play together across social and age divides, to reduce the segmentation of our culture. This segmentation is fine for those with something to sell, but it is bad for us all.

And we need to deploy relational “punishments” such as family group conferences and restorative justice.

Overseas aid

Should Jersey aim to meet the UN recommendation of giving 0.7% of its gross national income (£23.8m in 2007) in overseas aid?

Jersey, one of the richest places on earth, can afford to meet this target and it is absurd of anyone to claim otherwise. We can and should stand “Side by Side” as the amazing public response to the tsunami and the ongoing work of so many islanders to help the poor shows.  Note that we also need States ethical procurement and investment policies. I have ideas about how Jersey could improve overseas aid and a clear mechanism for funding.

Population

Should there be a limit on the population of Jersey? If so, what?

Yes, we must agree a ceiling and stick to it. All of us, all groups in society. By a process which is well-informed, open and honest. Our sense of “we”, and mutual trust, will grow when the process is correctly handled. Closed for business? a) invalid argument, people are leaving all the time, others are coming in. Just slow down. b) We were perhaps half as wealthy in 1960 as we are now, but I believe we were just as “happy.” It is absolutely fundamental to grasp this point: “standard of living “is not the same as “quality of life.”

Prices

What would you do to make life easier for those Islanders struggling to cope with rising food and fuel prices?

This issue has revealed for all to see the complete inadequacy of our present politicians. Peak oil has long been known about, oil price rises have now arrived as predicted, causing all other prices to rise, and our dear States members were completely unaware. We now all pay the price of cash register politics as fuel allowances are handed out when a home insulation programme should have been implemented years ago. We need an end to short-termism, and we need politicians who understand what is going on! Prices will continue to rise, social justice is now a political necessity.

Public assets

Should the States sell off more assets, such as public property and utilities?

I would be wary of ideological baggage on this issue, and of selling assets just to stuff holes in the budget. That is not prudent financial management. Sometimes it is right to sell, sometimes not. If the building in question can be better used outside the public sector then of course sell it. If the utility presents fundamental issues of security for our island as well as worker welfare issues, e.g. Jersey Telecom or Jersey Water, then don’t sell it. Note that the UK system of private companies building hospitals and schools is a complete disaster.

Recycling

Should we be legally required to recycle more of our household waste? If so, what should the target percentage be?

Our present waste management policies are shameful. And they amount to burning our money. First we should carry out an audit of all goods coming into the island to see where they end up. Then we are in a position to tackle the first R – reduction – head on. Second we must evaluate “bring-systems” against household collections in terms of their reuse and recycling potential. The aim is zero-waste. Why not?  Other places have this explicit target. Fiscal incentives, by parish or by household, based on money being saved against a benchmark, could be part of the equation.<

Rural Environment

What steps would you propose to safeguard the future of Jersey’s rural environment and countryside economy?

Build houses on waterfront, not spanking new business district. Control population. So, no more growth at all costs. Demand quality of life, measure quality of life, aim at quality of life. That is the way to preserve Jersey for future generations.

Food security will become more and more important for islanders as the global conventional economy contracts – local food on local plates. Restore soil fertility as a matter of urgency. Diversification projects to be reversible.

There are many pressures. The countryside provides food, amenity, leisure opportunities, homes. We need constant dialogue between the different interests.

States spending

Should States spending be reduced? If so, how?

Green policies reduce spending. They conserve resources instead of burning them or throwing them away. Investing in a tip-top bus service, insulating every building and not throwing stuff away will generate massive savings.

On the other hand I believe in public services and amenities. It costs money but benefits us all, and in particular is the best way to tackle poverty and exclusion. I deplore the niggling cut cut campaign waged by some States members (and candidates).

No feather-bedding and proper accountability go without saying, but should not be used as a covert route to a mean-minded agenda of cuts.

Waterfront

Are the current Waterfront plans, including the sinking of the main road, the right way forward?

It is irresponsible of the States to lock the island in to greater dependency on the Finance Industry when we should be diversifying and when the global conventional economy is in a tailspin from which it may not recover due to peak oil and its own inherent instability.

Providing car parking for 1400 cars at a time when climate change demands that we drastically reduce our CO2 emissions is one detail showing how flawed is the thinking behind this scheme.

The waterfront should be offered to other uses, principally housing, but including other community facilities to be decided by residents.

Youth

If you were 16, what political issues would you consider most important?

I would be scared witless about climate change, and I would want to scream DO SOMETHING!
I would be wondering: where’s it all going to end? What comes next after consumerism?
I would wonder if my education was preparing me/had prepared me for life in the best way.
I would be bothered about injustice – why do some have so much and many have so little? And about civil rights.
I would want things to do and a lovely environment to do them in, barbecues on the beach  . . . and not always have to pay for everything.

Q&A

(i) Should Jersey unilaterally introduce Central European Time? YES/NO NO
(ii) Do you favour a casino for Jersey? YES/NO NO
(iii) Should food be exempt from GST? YES/NO YES
(iv) Do you aspire to ministerial office? YES/NO – If so, which? YES Environment and Transport
Who would you like to see as the new Chief Minister?. Simon Crowcroft.
(vi) How much have you spent on your election campaign? So little it is not worth thinking about

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Responses

  1. I am someone who whole heartedly believes in the enviroment and in particular what we can all do in our homes such as recycling and reducing our carbon footprint. I am curious to know however what you suggest we do with the waste we presently cannot recycle if we do not replace Bellozane asap. It is falling apart around us and it is enviromentally damaging because of its age. Time is not on our side on this one. We couldn’t just magic all our rubbish away if Bellozane stopped tomorrow. Educating people to recycle is one thing but lets be realistic, 100% recycling will sadly never happen. At least hopefully having a new incinerator would save us from stock-piling hundreds of tons of rubbish which would be an absolute health hazzard. However much we care about our world, I cannot see a time that we won’t be able to do without an incinerator or such like. We can only hope that modern day engineering etc can produce waste disposal plants that produce as clean as possible emissions .

  2. Hello Mr. Green

    Pleased to read of your commitment to the environment.

    On “time is not on our side” see my response to Tony Bellows under “Big Mistakes” page

    A plant to handle what is left may sadly be a necessity, but I think we should set our target really high, bearing in mind true costs to the environment – of collection (different ways of doing this), of NOT recycling, and of any emissions.

    The real key is waste reduction, see my paragraph on this on the ENVIRONMENT page and the link there.

    On recycling, I have just read that “America is burying up to $1.83 billion worth of aluminium per year. Atkins estimates that there is now more aluminium in US landfills than can be produced from ores globally in one year.”
    I think that gives an idea of the folly of present [policies and attitudes, and the size of the prize. Far far better to recycle than to dig up yet another mountain or forest somewhere far away that we don’t see and do not have to suffer the consequences.


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