- Parish Castel
- Experience New Candidate
- Party The Guernsey Party
Guernsey born (one of the few hundred with no rights of work or abode in the EU), aged 52, I have been an Advocate for nearly 20 years. I have worked extensively across all financial sectors in Guernsey and elsewhere as well as being involved with and representing many prominent local businesses and charities. Before joining the legal sector in 1996, I was a Sea Fisheries Officer.
- Fiscal prudence, low taxation
- Business, industry, finance and free enterprise - cost effective and proportionate social policy
- Constitutional independence, high standard of living, small government, light regulation
- Support for freedom of speech, democracy and the rule of law
- High standards of professional conduct and integrity
The two main priorities in this next term must be the economy and resolving the education debate. I hope that we can improve co-operative and constructive working relationships between deputies and help to speed up decision making.
Guernsey is standing at a fork in the road to our future.
In one direction lies the opportunity to protect and enhance our island environment and its rich culture and history. To develop a diversified and sustainable economy, which produces enough income to pay for excellent public services. To harness our renowned Guernsey ability to innovate, overcome difficulties and be successful.
In the other direction we face a rapidly growing elderly population, sharply declining birth rate and demand for current and future public services, which we can’t afford. This is resulting in calls for higher taxation, which can only drive us towards long term decline.
I believe if we start down the path to higher taxation we will see business opportunity reduce and costs rise in all areas.
Our young people, wealthy residents and businesses in all sectors will not stay in an island where there is no opportunity.
History tells us that in almost every jurisdiction, once a new tax is introduced, it never goes away. Once we put our taxes up we will have let the genie out of the bottle.
I believe we should drive success, not drive it away.
How are we going to pay for it ? We cannot make sufficient savings by simply reducing the size of government. Yes, we must deliver promised public sector savings, but there is a much more fundamental issue. We need government to empower business and move aside, to facilitate, not micro-manage.
We need regulation which is proportionate. It should not take 3 weeks to open a bank account for a new customer, install a new telephone line or wait for planning consent to fit a defibrillator.
I would like to see our well organised and critical charity sector empowered and funded to provide more services rather than the States. I am sure all of you working in the charity sector understand this very well. I would also like to see the tax covenant for charitable donations raised.
I favour a bolder energy policy which gives us more energy security and puts a rapid increase in renewables at its core - free solar panels for all who want them, paid for in part by electricity generated.
I want government to take more pride in our Island’s infrastructure. Sea walls and slipways must not be left untended to fall apart, and should be repaired urgently and properly maintained going forwards.
I want to see our nursing pay dispute resolved urgently. Now more than ever these critical services need support.
I would encourage and support a Buy Local campaign to help local retailers, food and drink suppliers and manufacturers, and help to boost distillation, brewing production and exports of local products by reducing the duty on local production.
I prefer 3 schools and a single sixth form centre but I want to maintain choice for those who wish to take entrance exams for the Colleges and so to provide them with means-tested States scholarships at 11, 12 and 13.
I have spent a lot of time at sea and believe we have a unique opportunity to develop our harbour infrastructure to provide for significantly more leisure boating and moorings for much larger vessels to visit and overwinter, bringing valuable revenue and diversifying our economy.
We should take inspiration from the vision of our forefathers who built our wonderful harbour, it has paid for itself probably hundreds of times over.
Like them, we need to be positive, forward looking, and enthusiastic about the future possibilities for our Bailiwick.
I promise I will do my very best for you all and to keep listening. Please visit my website and Facebook pages to see more detail.
Vote for new blood and fresh ideas.
Please vote for Mark Helyar.
Answers to questions proposed by the public:
Most of the detailed work of the States is done in committees, like the Committee for Environment and Infrastructure. What experience do you have of being on a committee and how did you contribute?
I probably wouldn’t be able to say how many but certainly several hundred, from the Public Accounts Committee to charities and businesses. I am professionally qualified so often appointed to provide legal advice but have a great deal of experience of governance , regulation, insurance, investments and leadership as chairman.
With unemployment currently running at an all time high, what measures would you like in place to ensure local people are offered jobs before license holders ?
Getting the economy going is the best way of ensuring employment. The economy needs licenseholders just as much as locals. The current issue is that many locals do not have the right skills.
What concrete measures would you like to see implemented in Guernsey during the next term to achieve net zero carbon by 2050?
Solar fund, focus on renewables.
I live in St Peter Port but have interests in the Vale, St Peters and Castel. Will you be looking at Island Wide issues or more so in your Parish of residence?
Deputies are under a duty to apply the best interests of the Island to their decisions but they can take up issues of those who petition them.
Are you concerned about the large amount of agricultural land that is being lost for private gardens?
No, I am not concerned about this. Rather a garden than a housing estate.
You will make many commitments as a politician, but how will you actually ensure these are achieved? If you have been a deputy before, what will you do differently this term to improve achievements?
It is'nt possible for any individual to make a specific difference except by building consensus amongst other members - working collaboratively is the most important thing to achieve progress.
What are your opinions on climate change and Guernsey's role in tackling it?
Guernsey can't make any noticeable difference whatsoever, and I speak as someone with a degree in the subject. The best we can hope to do is set a good example and protect ourselves from its likely effects.
What are the attributes and skills you will be looking for in the next President of the Policy & Resources Committee?
The ability to lead effectively and generate consensus.
If the independent Cost Benefit Analysis supports lengthening the airport runway, would you vote in favour of investing in this key element of island infrastructure?
Yes, without hesitation.
Do you believe that diversification of the island's tax base is an important consideration for Guernsey in today's volatile and fast-moving global economy? If so, how can this specifically be achieved for Guernsey?
Yes, the best opportunity is to redevelop our harbours for leisure vessels of all sizes.
What are the candidates' views on maternity pay and leave and how would they improve the current arrangements, if at all?
We need a higher birth rate but I would want to see cost impact before extending current provision. Our economy is on its knees.
I believe Guernsey needs a vision; a forward-thinking concept for the future of the island’s infrastructure, community wellbeing and economy. What’s yours?
I want the whole island to be energy independent and run primarily from renewables before 2030.
Do you agree that people should be encouraged to use cars less and if so what measures would you like to see introduced to achieve this?
No, people are always going to need personal transport, whether electric or otherwise.
Do you support outsourcing of States services?
Yes, particularly in the third sector. Many services could be provided at higher standard and for lower cost by funding charities directly.
What will you do to educate the islanders about the reality of the climate crisis which is the biggest threat currently facing the world?
Please see my answer above. The best we can hope to achieve is to set a leading example and ameliorate local effects.
Most environmental problems are caused by the love of growth. Would you consider de-growth?
No, without growth in some form there is no technology, or energy transition.
What intra island transport strategy would you support to ensure safe and ‘clean’ travel on island for all road users, pedestrians, cyclists and motorists? And how do you plan to deliver that plan financially?
I would like to see cycle corridors but created but the proposals be developed by interested groups, not the States, in other words for less cost.
What environmental policies would you support to reduce Guernsey’s reliance on the internal combustion engine, in support of International global warming initiatives?
More electricity transition backed by grants or tax breaks / cheaper electricity and a solar fund for PV panels.
What measures will you put in place during the next term to ensure that environmental biodiversity will be protected and enhanced?
We would like to see glass cleared and for the dairy industry or part of it to use organic methods - potentially this can be achieved by having micro-dairies rather than a large new development. Organic methods may help restore lost biodiversity.
The Guernsey Press had an article and a picture of a proposed East Coast development called HYDROPORT. It seemed to me to be a brilliant plan and included a new deep water harbour, a hydro electric supply by enclosing Belgrave bay and changes to St Peter port harbour to accommodate cruise liners and super yachts. It would provide jobs, produce an ongoing and substantial revenue stream and make us to some extent self-reliant on electricity, why has there been no update on this project?
You would have to ask current members about that.
Do you agree that there is a climate crisis caused predominantly by the actions of humans?
Yes, anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are not a theory.
Longue Hougue has been proposed as a site for inert waste disposal despite it being a site of international importance in terms of wildlife. La Societe Guernesiase and other scientists have advised against this. What will you do to ensure that this valuable habitat is protected?
I would buy Les Vardes and use it for inert waste, which could last for over a 100 years. Then return the resulting land to a wildlife sanctuary.
Most scientists and experts agree that a target of 2050 to achieve ‘net zero’ carbon emissions is nowhere near ambitious enough and will have catastrophic consequences around the world. What will you do to ensure that Guernsey takes action to significantly reduce carbon emissions during the next term?
See various answers to similar questions. No single member can achieve anything on their own, we need the public to vote for people who can demonstrate the ability to work together.
What is your view on current spending on Aurigny, is it worth how much we are paying? Is it run efficiently? Did we need new aircraft?
Too many types of aircraft, all should be leased and not on Aurigny's balance sheet and the States should give it a strategic objective.
If elected, would you fully support the retention, repair and ongoing maintenance of the Sea Defences provided by the anti-tank wall at L’Ancresse Bay?
Yes, and as soon as possible.
A significant proportion of the concerns about the two college model of secondary education related to the capital costs and space standards: they could have been addressed with higher spending. Would you be prepared to spend more money on the future model of secondary education than previously agreed by the States in September 2019? If so, how much more?
No, the sums involved were excessive. 3 schools and single sixth form together with scholarships can be achieved without significant cost.
With the general increase in costs of running the island and with various capital projects requiring funding; and with limitations on the amount that islanders can be taxed; do you think that it may be time to revisit the 0-10 tax scheme that created a big black hole in the island's finances?
No. The government is responsible for rising costs and borrowing as not controlled them. In January 2014 we had limited external borrowing, paid directly by trading departments, at the end of 2020 we are facing a debt of £890m - £330m bond, £500m credit facility and £60m Aurigny borrowing for new aircraft. Government now plans to raise either GST, income tax or tax on rateable value. We want to see a stronger economy put at the front of priorities, raising tax will lead to decline.
If elected, what priority will you give to the introduction of the already-drafted consumer protection legislation?
It’s a manifesto commitment.
Did you know that same-sex families aren't treated equally when it comes to registering the birth of a child? What will you do to change that?
All persons who are not biological parents are already treated equally, registration is not an equality issue. Registration is a legal obligation and process which exists for the benefit of a child, to establish biological parentage and therefore the legal duties of parental responsibility and/or to enable the transfer and/or terminate these legal rights and duties (including rights to inheritance) upon adoption. Adoption is the process for assuming parental responsibility for any person who is not the biological parent of a child, whether same sex, heterosexual, or otherwise.
Would you support a programme of privatisation of island utilities and other facilities such as Beau Sejour to help reduce record levels of borrowing resulting from the cost of Covid defences?
Yes if it reduced costs.
Increasing home working will likely result in surplus office space. Will you encourage an urgent revision of Planning Policies to facilitate conversion of retail and office space to residential & curb green-field development?
What is your attitude towards enhanced and mandatory registration, chipping and DNA recording of dogs and control of their fouling, island-wide?
Too expensive - we already pay tax for the police force, lets have them doing some enforcement - a pair of binoculars, notebook and pencil is all that should be required, and raise the level of fine.
I have one question for sitting Deputies and one for new candidates. Deputies:- what, in your mind, was your greatest political achievement in the last four years? New candidates:- What is your biggest political goal in the next four years?
To try and get the economy going well enough to not have to increase taxes.
How good are your mediation and conciliation skills? The key to the islands well-being and progress is in working together to achieve the projects approved - to see sustainable, innovative solutions. Leadership in pulling the team together to move forward, rather than in circles.
I am a trained and accredited commercial mediator (ADR).
Would you support not giving Local Market licenses to those earning above a set level to support both LM and OM?
No, it would be better to reinstate the rights for OM householders to house others on their property, as in former years prior to the new legislation.
First time buyers are encouraged to buy new build developments taking up green space, while there are vast amounts of listed properties facing dereliction on the island - buildings ripe for restoration, renovation and to be lived in. Currently, people are put off as they are greeted with stringent and outdated views by The Planning and Heritage Department - it takes too much time and money so are immediately put off. What will you do to change the process for the better?
Expand planning exemptions, allow the Douzaines to deal with small development and cut red tape. Remove individual politicians from the decision making rocess and require it to meet time and performance deadlines.
Would you support changes in the law to make cannabis for personal use legal?
Not without regulation and THC limits.
Question for New Candidates: During the COVID-19 lockdown States Meetings were held virtually. On 24th of June Meetings resumed in the Royal Court Chamber. As a prospective States Member have you spent any time at all in the public gallery observing our Parliament (potentially your future workplace) in action? If not, why not?
Yes dozens of times over the years including drafting policy letters and the legislation being debated, but the chamber is not a workplace, it is a room full of hot air - work is done in committee and by trying to gain consensus outside meetings.
In 1945, the generosity of people outside Guernsey enabled the delivery of Red Cross parcels to the island on the SS Vega. What is your view on the statement that ‘charity begins at home but should not end there’? How can we best show our care for people in need in other parts of the world?
I prefer practical help rather than cash - I would rather breed and export our famous Guernsey cows for example.
This is a question for new candidates; do you agree with the principle of scrutiny of government and if so how would you ensure that it was fairly carried out ?
Yes , we need scrutiny to have proper powers and it needs to be made up predominantly of independent people, not politicians - we also need a similar committee which investigates financial and contract matters.
Considering the mounting public pressure against the way our current justice system deals with cannabis offences, what is your stance on the legalisation and regulation of cannabis in Guernsey?
Sentencing guidelines and legalisation are two different issues. I would consider recreational cannabis proposals subject to regulation and THC limitation.
In a review last year into drugs and treatments and States debate in January, HSC acknowledged that the disparity between life changing NICE TA drugs available in Guernsey compared to the NHS had become too great to be justified, with nearly 4000 patients now on sub-optimal treatments. The Guernsey Health Reserve was identified as the funding source. HSC announced last week a delay of at least a year to the implementation of this policy. How do you propose to tackle the pace at which change takes place within the States? Should you be held accountable for delivering on commitments you make individually, as a committee or collectively as the States?
With Island wide voting, all candidates will become accountable to the whole of the States. Clearly it is P&R's role to insist on committee policy being delivered. Unfortunately with a constitution which makes the whole of the States an executive body, and 38 members of it, things move too slowly.
What ideas do you have to ensure there is affordable housing including support for first time buyers and ensure affordable rental property is available for locals so they can continue to live here? What is your stance on mortgage tax relief and shared ownership initiatives?
We would like to see reintroduction of States loans and the implementation of land bank scheme, where the States owns a plot and the buyer oenws a building, reducing the overall cost.
What would you do to address traffic noise pollution from vehicles speeding and backfiring along St Georges Esplanade/Les Banques and towards town?
I wasn’t aware of this issue but it would seem to be a matter for the police, you should take numbers and report them. It is an offence to run a noisy vehicle.
In January 2020 the States passed a policy to make all NICE TA drugs and treatments available to Islanders. Do you see this as a priority and if so how would you expedite implementation?
This depends on the cost of implementation.
The recent Frontier report on the runway extension summed up that "the economic benefits of extending the runway are likely to outweigh the costs" with net benefits over 40 years of up to £687m (over £20k per household). Post COVID, do you support continued investigation into the potential for a runway extension to improve Guernsey's infrastructure, air links, and sustain the visitor economy?
Yes but not until we see what the post COVID aviation industry will look like.
Have you been made aware that every report that the SOG has commissioned for 20 years has flagged the need to extend the runway to circa 1700m+ and the commercial benefits it will bring for the island as a whole?
No I have'nt been made aware of it but the strategic benefits are obvious.
Brexit presents a unique opportunity for Guernsey to strengthen its ties with other Commonwealth countries and stand on its own two feet on an international scale. Would you be willing to make an effort to strengthen our diplomatic ties to countries like New Zealand, Australia, and Canada?
Yes, certainly an opportunity to piggy-back on trade missions.
The current states assembly has approved proposals for a Discrimination Ordinance, but much work needs to be done. How committed are you to ensuring that LGBTQ+ people, people of colour, people with disabilities and people of faith are protected on this island?
Questioner assumes themselves a representative of a wvery wide range of groups and a need for protection without stating what it is that such groups need protecting from. I prefer to concentrate on what brings us together and we share in common rather than treating people as part of a group.
What criteria do you use for decision making?
Depends on the subject matter, audience and required outcome.
In the last two years two pieces of legislation have come to the States which specifically target the most vulnerable members of our society - euthanasia and abortion - where a person’s fundamental and basic right to life is overridden in the name of lesser rights. Do you believe that disposing of a person’s life is a sign of progress? Do you believe that failing to protect human life at any age or stage of development is the mark of a civilised and enlightened and caring society?
My views are more prosaic. Assisted death will never occur until the medical profession's governing bodies support it, which seems unlikely. All human life is precious but abortion is already a fact and has recently been debated. We shouldn't keep reopening issues hoping to achieve different outcomes, it delays other priorities and is wasteful.
It is beyond time to invest in our people, infrastructure and public services. Do you plan to make the island's tax system more fair and progressive, so that more businesses and the wealthy pay a fairer share?
The questioner assumes that businesses and the wealthy don’t pay a fair share, which isnt correct. Many of our wealthiest residents pay significant amounts of tax but do not use services such as the schools or health provision. I would prefer to see government spending what we can afford, not tax and spend. We have significant amounts of financial reserves and borrowing for capital expenditure, it does not require tax to be raised to spend on infrastructure if it provides a return. Government should grow the revenue cake, not start a spiral of decline.
In light of covid-19 and the hit that the tourist industry has taken what plans (if any) would you try to put in place to make Guernsey more attractive to tourists after travel bans are lifted? And do you feel tourism should play a more crucial role in Guernsey? If not, why?
Yes I strongly support tourism, we need fixed fares on Aurigny for an extended period and need to relax housing and planning legislation to improve living standards in staff accomodation. The open skies policy brought the first rise in passenger numbers for many years.
Please list in order of importance: - driving Guernsey’s economy - addressing social needs - protecting the environment - invest in Guernsey’s infrastructure and improve - sort out the schools - focus on air and sea links - extend the runway - implement revive and thrive as a priority - open our closed borders as a priority - reduce states expenditure
Economy, infrastructure, schools, implement revive, open borders, reduce expenditure, air and sea, runway, environment, social needs - albeit many of these overlap.
List your achievements to date which have been a benefit to Guernsey.
I was a member of PAC which led to the last government restructure, I was chair of culture Guernsey and formed the Guernsey Arts Commission, converted the GFA into a company, drafted legislation, governance and regulatory advice free of charge for industry associations, won international awards highlighting Guernsey's financial expertise, directed and chaired local charities including the Mines Awareness Trust and Citizens Advice, arrested French fishermen invading our waters, conducted first prosecutions for water pollution, and many more.
Do you support a reduction in the cost of running the civil service? If so, how would you do that and over what timescale?
Yes, as soon as possible. Plans are already made, they simply haven't been pursued. Those responsible for delivering it need to be encouraged to get on with it.
As we subsidise the airline, should Aurigny have a monopoly over all air routes to and from the Bailiwick, with a regulator to ensure fair pricing and a policy of not for profit?
Not as currently structured, it requires a restructure and for government to decide what it wants it to achieve.
What is your view regarding commercialisation with respect to States owned entities?
Depends on which ones, some are important strategic assets, others might be amenable to more independence.
Should the island be spending tax payers money on maintaining air and sea links?
What is your view on future funding for long term care as current funding will be insufficient by 2040?
We need to overhaul our pension system by looking at taking people out of the state system and consider whether we can reduce our long term liabilities by the purchase of reinsurance for longevity risk.
What is your opinion of introducing a goods and sales tax?
Against it as it harms the poorest in society.
Would you support the ‘listing’ of all remaining historic military structures, as Jersey has done, to ensure their ongoing protection, repair and maintenance?
No, I would support their protection by planning law but not anything which involves more bureaucracy or expense, we simply cant afford it.
What initiatives would you put in place to grow our economy?
We need lighter touch regulation, reduced cost, simplified and faster planning process, decentralise control from the states to the third sector, reduce duty on brewing and distillation, create a buy local campaign, let industry take over functions such as visit guernsey with funding, fixed price fares on Aurigny to revitalise the industry.
Do you believe that the rates of income support are a) too low b) about right or c) too high? Explain your answer in some detail.
I would prefer a system in which people are incentivised to work. Many people have raised this as a concern during the campaign.
How will you support and encourage young people coming to the island with regards to housing and licencing to ensure the island has more stable tax base as the population ages?
Review and relaxation of the P&M law, longer licences for nurses, teachers and entrepreneurs willing to establish businesses in the Island.
How will your religious faith influence your voting decisions?
Not at all.
Have you read the recommendations contained in the Frontier Economics Report in which they state that the long term benefits of extending the runway far outweigh the environmental and capital costs? If so, are you in favour of extending the runway?
Yes and Yes but let's wait and see what COVID recovery looks like.
What are your views on the cost of Primary Healthcare locally and what innovative ideas do you have that don’t simply involve ‘redirecting funding from a different states pot’ to create fair, equitable and affordable access to Primary Care for all islanders?
I would like to see a more creative / insurance based approach. I would also like to see it free to eligible pensioners. We can potentially save considerable cost by reviewing the way in which off-island medical referrals work and gain savings by negotiating bulk-contracts rather than having a formula led spend as at present.
Do you support developing end of life care (including palliative care) or would you look to introduce a form of euthanasia as in assisted dying (assisted suicide)?
It is not possible to develop assisted dying without practitioner support and that isn't in likely in the UK.
Education - Do you know what T levels are and if you do, would you be enthusiastically demanding that they are available here in Guernsey?
I am more in favour of a traditional indentured apprenticeship scheme than T levels. Many young people want to be out working post 16, not in a schoolroom.
What will you do to help Guernsey businesses revive and thrive and make Guernsey a 'smarter' and technologically advanced place to do business, and to encourage new start up businesses?
We need superfast broadband installed urgently, we are already way behind Jersey and the IOM. I would like to see a competition awarding say 10 permanent licences to new businesses and entrepreneurs wanting to move to the island to raise profile and seed new business. The current fund should also be easier to access.
There is a lack of mental health support available - particularly to those who seem to fall into the apparent gap between the secondary and primary mental health services. What will you do to address this?
I would need to be on the health committee to achieve this and such decisions would be clinically led.
How would you as a deputy ensure emotive proposals such as, change to abortion law or assisted dying law would be publicly debated? And allow Islanders to have more of a say in these emotive issues.
Islanders already have significant access to deputies. If individuals want more say they need to stand as deputies.
What is your position on the opportunity to debate the abortion issue more openly and fairly with more balanced representations to the Deputies?
The debate has passed and decision made, the law exists. I do not want to keep revisiting the same issues.
How do you see the way forward for secondary education in the island? Do you favour a particular model and if so which one?
3 11-16 schools, one sixth form, means tested scholarships for the colleges with entrance exams set by the colleges.
Recognising the importance of our natural environment and our hospitality industry how would you propose to move forward essential repairs and any development at St Peter Port harbour, securing access to our beaches (e.g. Petit Port, Divette, Soldiers bay), the maintenance of our cliff paths and the important access from the bathing places to the Clarence battery? Does this essential maintenance take priority over the development of the East Coast/Town seafront?
Sea defences are important strategic assets and should be fixed - the money for these comes from a different pot than major capital expenditure and it should just be done, as soon as possible, including L'Ancresse.
What are your views about the proposed way forward with regard to Probate, recognising that the age-old system has been efficient, pastoral, and inexpensive? Are you of the view "if it ain't broke don't fix it"?
I agree the old fashioned way was much better and cheaper, its mystifying why steps were taken to dismantle it. Many similarly expensive and illogical decisions have been taken recently.