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Responsibility without power

Nine out of ten of the things parishioners ask me to fix are not within my power to do so: that’s one of the reasons why I am supporting the idea of creating a Town Council for St Helier. Of course, I can and do pass on umpteen requests for improvements and change to the Government departments or Ministers who have the power to sort out a problem, and, as a backbencher in the States Assembly, I can and do ask questions or bring propositions and amendments forward for debate when the Government (as often happens) fails to take such requests seriously or to deal with them in a timely fashion. But it’s a frustrating business being asked questions like, ‘When is New Street going to be resurfaced? It looks terrible!’ or ‘Have you seen the state of Liberation Square, Constable? It’s a disgrace!’ or ’Why isn’t the Lido at Havre des Pas being properly maintained?’

I don’t mind being held responsible for the state of our town if the Parish is given the power to improve it, fixing the things that are broken in an efficient and timely manner, with individual councillors given responsibility for important areas such as the cleanliness of our streets, the condition of our pavements and roads, the quality of our parks and open spaces, recycling and other portfolios such as licensing and even small-scale planning applications which, if managed well, can make such a positive difference to the quality of life of residents and to the success of the businesses operating in the Parish.

We now have had the useful experience of operating a Shadow Town Council, which has explored some of the areas of responsibility and which I believe could be devolved to the Parish by the Government of Jersey. The next step is for me to bring forward proposals to a Parish Assembly in the New Year, and if they are supported by parishioners, to take them forward to the States Assembly for debate.

Simon Crowcroft, Constable of St Helier