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‘Survival budget’ for Minister for Infrastructure

Nov 17, 2022

On Wednesday 16 November 2022, the Environment, Housing and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel held a Quarterly Public Hearing with the Minister for Infrastructure, Deputy Tom Binet. Question topics included his 2023 Ministerial Plan and the Proposed Government Plan 2023-26.

The Panel questioned the Minister for Infrastructure, Deputy Binet, and his Officers, on the viability of the budget going forward to meet the infrastructural needs of the Island. The Minister talked about several ‘pinch points’, particularly in relation to liquid waste and shoreline management and that ‘it was apparent that [the department] has been running on a survival budget and that may have to change.’ 

The Panel heard that whilst the new Sewage Treatment Works was due to be completed next year, the Minister confirmed that liquid waste is at ‘maximum capacity’, and an increase in future spending will be required to meet rising needs. 

The Panel questioned the Minister about rising sea levels and the infrastructure needed to be put in place. The Minister confirmed plans to develop the southern coast sea defences, particularly in the areas of First Tower and Havre Des Pas.  Ellen Littlechild, Group Director for Operations and Transport, continued: ‘ we don’t have the money yet to put plans in place but there will be a consultation piece coming up soon’. The Minister added ‘some of the plans that are going to come out in terms of the sea defences might give people a bit of a shock’, due to building a higher sea wall. 

The Panel questioned the Minister for Infrastructure on the new Government Headquarters allocated spend of £460,000 on consultancy fees proposed for 2023. The Minister was ‘surprised’ by this costing, adding he would provide the panel with specific details at a later date.

Over the course of the hearing, the Panel also asked questions on points related to transport. They heard:

•    There is a need to meet the UN Vienna Convention on Road Traffic requirements when it comes to vehicle testing. The Minister argued that while long term plans are put in place, he would prioritise in the short-term vehicle tests for those leaving the Island. The Minister              suggested working with the private sector motor industry to push things forward. 

•   ‘Car parks are now back at pre covid levels’ which is once again generating income for the Car Park Trading Fund.

•    Sustainable Transport Roadmap - "lagging behind the UK", however, the upcoming contract with the new bus operators presents an ‘excellent opportunity for electrification of buses’.

•    Ministers have been engaging in talks about a new EV carsharing scheme (small electric cars), as a way to combat problems with car park spaces in town 

•    Overall, budgetary shortfalls have been accompanied by a 17% shortfall in personnel, impacting running of the Infrastructure, Housing and Environment department.

The Chair of the Panel, Deputy Steve Luce, thanked the Minister and his Officers for their contributions, commenting ‘the Panel hope for a thorough and careful consideration of all the pressing infrastructure concerns raised today. We look forward to seeing further proposals and plans that reflect these urgencies.’ 

A full recording of the public hearing can be watched here

States Assembly Press Notice

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