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Blog: A power grab or a way to slash red tape?

Credit: ITV Channel TV
  • If you're anything like me, you like to get things done. If, between you and that 'job done' feeling is a whole mountain of bureaucracy and a committee who love to defer and dither, it's sometimes easier to give up than put yourself through that aggro and stress.

The theory goes that if Jersey's de facto capital St Helier gets more power, getting things done could happen faster and, it's argued, in a cheaper way.

It was the 18th century that a Council for St Helier was discussed. It was approved by the States in the 19th century. But here in the 21st century nothing's actually been done about it... until now.

The parish Constable has confirmed to me that he and his Roads Committee are actively exploring a plan to devolve power from the States. The Council would be elected - though the details of how that would work are yet to be ironed out.

The concept reared its head last spring ahead of the General Election when Jersey's only political party, Reform Jersey, included it in its manifesto. They are likely to back the move - subject to a number of important caveats about how it's formed and run, and the Chief Minister has already pledged to make improving St Helier for all who live and work there a 'theme' of his government.

So is this a power grab or a way to slash red tape? Well it could actually be both. It could put the parish in charge of planning decisions, meaning a more joined up plan for what gets built where. It could do away with the arcane rules for the licensing of bars and club.

But it could also mean a small band of people at the town hall could, in future, introduce a congestion charge for St Helier to ease traffic - just like London.