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Alderney residents support shrinking States committee

Matt Birmingham has proposed the motion Photo:

MOST residents who stood up to speak about reducing the number of politicians on the Policy and Finance Committee were in favour of the motion, at May's People's Meeting.

The motion, being brought as a requete by Matt Birmingham, has been signed by P&F Committee chairman James Dent, Graham McKinley and Tony Barnes.

The Policy and Finance Committee has in the recent past consisted of five and all 10 States Members. Matt Birmingham, who has also resigned from the Policy and Finance Committee, explained that he had brought the requete in order to improve scrutiny within government.

“The Good Governance Review… talks about the lack of scrutiny that occurs across the Alderney government system if you have 10 states members on the executive. It leaves no-one to do scrutiny. The current Building and Development Control Committee and the General Services Committee are not 10 members so when issues are brought to the States, non BDCC and GSC members can quiz the chairmen of those committees in the States. If everyone is sitting on P&F they can’t do that. Any scrutiny we have happens behind closed doors.”

– Matt Birmingham

One resident stood up to say;

I’d like to speak in favour of this. When I first came to Alderney I attended States meetings regularly, until they changed the Policy & Finance Committee so that everyone was member. I felt when I turned up to States Meetings I was seeing rubber stamping. I would like to see States meetings in action so that I can make a decision who I will vote for next time.

– Alderney resident

Carol Neill said that having 10 members on P&F meant residents were kept “completely in the dark” about political decisions.

It would be better to have a maximum of four and bring everything to the public.

– Carol Neill, Alderney resident

Another resident said that in the States chamber the public saw little more than “posturing” and States Members in 100% agreement with each other.

Others were less sure it would be an improvement. Mike Harrisson offered:

Usually two heads are better than one and 10 heads are better than five.

– Alderney resident

Mr Birmingham said he would not rejoin even a smaller P&F because he felt the role conflicted too much with his post as chairman of the Building and Development Control Committee.

The States meeting is next Wednesday.