Our parish system is important for Jersey’s civic administration.
The Covid pandemic has shown yet again how important our parish system is to civic administration in Jersey. With the parish Connétable at its head, the parish honorary system provided support for the most vulnerable in island life and highlighted the caring nature of both urban and country parishes. The relationship between government and parish administrations remains strong but The Progress Party believe that this bond could be stronger and provide even better support for Islanders as we look to recover from both the pandemic and the effects of Brexit.
The link between island and parish administrations is, of course, the Connétable. The Progress Party is clear that it supports the Connétable remaining in the States Assembly, as was the public’s wish in the referendum in 2014.
Recently agreed changes in the electoral system, to be used in next year’s general election, will see the island wide role of Senator removed from the States and replaced by an increased number of deputies elected in districts. The Progress Party believe that, whilst supporting this changes, it’s vital that Connétables are in the States to protect and represent the parish system and also to maintain the strong links between the parish system and the States of Jersey.
However, there remains the risk that at some point in the future that further changes may be brought forward. There may well be moves to remove the Connétables from the States as a means to improve voter equity and have one single type of States Member. To mitigate this risk The Progress Party will propose a review of the role of the Connétable in Jersey during the next political term. This will be a way of protecting the integrity of the role, and ensure that the honorary parish system can be protected and remain at the heart of our parish communities. This review should not only look at the current role of the Connétable but also look at ways the position could be further enhanced and strengthened.
Our developing Policy
The Progress Party has produced a policy paper outlining our views on the role of Connétables and their potential participation in party politics. In that paper we are clear that we consider there is no role for the Progress Party to play in running parishes, with the responsibility being solely in the hands of each respective Connétable. How a Connétable votes in the States Assembly, if he or she is a member of The Progress Party, is clearly laid out within our Connétable policy paper.
The Progress Party wholeheartedly supports the diverse network of volunteers that make up the parish honorary system. We very firmly believe that the hugely valuable work of the Honorary Police, Procureurs, parish roads committees and inspectors, Salle Paroiselles, rates committees, church committees or the many other groups that support parish and island life are all vital to our Jersey ways of life.
As can be seen, The Progress Party did not include the 12 parish honorary police forces within our Home Affairs policy paper as we have rightly detailed their contribution to our community within this paper. Although the twelve honorary forces do work closely with their States of Jersey Police colleagues (under a Memorandum of Understanding) it’s important to remember that each parish police force is independent and elected, in general, from residents of each respective parish.
The Progress Party are a strong and active promoter of the 12 honorary police forces. We will support both the recruitment of new officers from all parts of island life, and their continued operational independence. We will not support any move to amalgamate one or more honorary police forces or for control to be vested outside of each parish’s specific Chef de Police.
Parish administration in general is known for its prudence, and this is shown year on year by each parish setting a parish rate that raises sufficient income to cover the costs of running each respective parish. The Progress Party are hugely supportive of such a prudent approach and will look to introduce these types of balanced fiscal controls into the island’s wider government. We do not support the use of the island wide rate as a means of randomly increasing income for the Government of Jersey.
The Progress Party are keen to see general licensing schemes, such as driving licences, remain under the administration of the parishes. We believe there are opportunities to devolve further services to parish halls.
We will review the role of the parishes within any new alcohol licensing scheme for Jersey to ensure residents of each parish can be at the heart of decision making. Such decision making could also include event licensing and beach concessions where local knowledge is key.
The Progress Party are committed to building closer relationships between 12 Island Parishes and the States of Jersey.