St Peter voters raise Airport plans and hospital catering

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Tech expert Rowland Huelin, who worked in Europe and the US before returning home to Jersey, is competing against experienced financier Sean Creavy.

A sizeable number of voters attended the event at the parish’s Youth and Community Centre and quizzed the pair on a range of topics, including the proposed £42 million redevelopment of the Airport departures hall and the impact of moving the Hospital’s catering facilities to St Peter’s Technical Park.

Mr Huelin and Mr Creavy, who were both keen to talk about their long family histories in the Island, were also asked to explain their views on the constitution of the States and ongoing calls for electoral reform, as well as whether they support a proposed digital academy being built in the Island.

The evening began with Mr Creavy’s opening speech during which he explained that he has lived in the parish for 20 years and would put several parish matters at the heart of his job, if he were elected.

He said that he wanted to assist the new Children’s Commissioner in her work, help build and diversify the economy and get the recently rejected plans for the Ville de Manoir affordable housing development in the heart of St Peter back on track.

‘The outgoing Constable John Refault worked hard to build 65 affordable homes in the parish. We need to resolve the issues with it quickly,’ he said.

Mr Creavy, who has served five years as a parish Centenier, added that, if elected, he would hold a weekly surgery in the parish hall or visit parishioners’ homes if they prefer.

During his opening address, Mr Huelin said that despite having worked abroad for a long period, his ‘roots and heart’ are in the parish of St Peter, where he was raised in an ‘established farming family’.

‘I want to communicate and understand the thoughts of the parish, and will work closely with new Constable Richard Vibert,’ he said.

‘I will hold meetings and make effective use of social media. I will promote a community support service and play a proactive role in the youth club.’

He added that he intends to use increased rates income from the Airport, following the incorporation of Ports of Jersey, to fund community improvements.

He also said, like Mr Creavy, that he wants to revive the Ville de Manoir scheme and views traffic, speeding and pollution as problems for the parish.

With regard to parish matters, both candidates seemed perplexed by the £42 million price tag of the planned new departures hall of the Airport.

Mr Creavy, who after 29 years working in finance formed his own company, said he hoped that the cost could be reduced and that it would be paid for fully by Ports of Jersey. Mr Huelin said that he thought the price tag was excessive for an area for just ‘going in and out’ of the Airport and would like to see the development ‘stripped down’.

On the matter of the Hospital’s catering facilities being moved to St Peter’s Technical Park, Mr Huelin said that he would set up a neighbourhood committee to ensure local residents voice their concerns, such as possible noise pollution, to officials in a ‘non-confrontational environment’.

Mr Creavy said that he believed the decision to place the new facilities there was correct but if there is going to be a noise issue during the day time due to the use of refrigerators, he would address the matter with the Environment Department.

Both candidates agreed that traffic issues need to be addressed, with Mr Huelin proposing better development of public transport while Mr Creavy advocated a clamp down on speeding and more pedestrian crossings.

The candidates were asked whether they supported diversification of Jersey’s economy, including the proposed development of a digital academy.

Mr Creavy said that he believed digital skills should become more integrated into schools’ curricula.

‘For now we need to build up interest in our young people. We don’t have enough young people studying and learning the right courses,’ he said.

‘The start might be persuading schools to change their curricula to a certain extent.’

Mr Huelin, who has 30 years’ experience in IT, said that he believed more had to be done at earlier ‘grass roots’ stages of education to develop and encourage digital skills.

‘I think our teachers are overburdened with ticking boxes and filling in forms and are also probably not as confident about IT as they ought to be,’ he added.

He said that 70 per cent of work in the finance industry could be done by artificial intelligence within the next 15 to 20 years, and the Island needed to be prepared.

On the matter of States reform and constitution, both candidates expressed generally conservative views, including retaining the parishes as individual constituencies and keeping the Bailiff as States speaker,

Mr Creavy thought that the Constables should stay in the States but added that there should be more Senators, elected on an Island-wide basis, and fewer Deputies. He said that he was opposed to party politics.

Mr Huelin expressed concern about Deputies elected on a mandate of just a few hundred people holding ministerial positions and running large budgets without an Island-wide mandate.

The hustings finished with the candidates being asked about who they would support as the next Chief Minister.

Mr Creavy said Lyndon Farnham, while Mr Huelin did not name anyone but said he would not support Ian Gorst as he believed he had not shown leadership over the development of the future hospital.

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