Alderney could be on the verge of transforming the way the Island is governed.
Starting on July 15th, a four-week period of public consultation begins – including a public drop-in day – before proposals go on the Billet for debate at the States of Alderney in September.
If approved, the Island would move to an Executive-style of government with fewer elected Members by 2025.
Currently, Alderney has 10 elected States Members representing an island of around 2,000 people. There have been calls to change the system for years including a States vote in 2019 to switch to an Executive-style government. The changes were anticipated in the recently approved Island Plan which aims for more open and efficient government.
“We have been listening to these calls for change while examining how other jurisdictions have adapted to an executive-style approach,” said Kevin Gentle, Chair of the Island’s Good Governance Group which has now brought its proposals forward.
“A criticism has been levelled at this and previous States that we are taking too long to make decisions, and we are too slow to make progressive policies. All that will change under these proposals, but first we want to be sure that the public is with us on such an important matter.”
Executive government would mean the election of eight Members instead of 10, each with a ‘portfolio’ to administer from General Services and Environment to Economic Development and Health & Housing. The current responsibilities of the three principal committees – Policy & Finance, General Services and Building & Development Control – will be divided up into eight portfolios.
Each of these Members would be responsible for liaising with their opposite number in Guernsey, the budget for their area of responsibility, working with others within the government or those with specialist skills, and acting as deputy to other portfolio holders.
Three of the elected Members would be appointed to form an Executive Council, one of which will be elected as Chair, working with the Civil Service to manage government processes, preparing the Billets for full States debates, and acting swiftly in the event of a crisis or other urgent matter.
The eight Members would also choose from among their number the two Members who would represent Alderney at the States of Deliberation in Guernsey. This would no longer require a second election by all-island Plebiscite (a vote by which the people of an entire country express an opinion for or against a proposal), which was introduced as a pilot experiment in 2006.
The Working Group has also looked closely at public expectation of scrutiny over how the Island government carries out its duties. The People’s Meetings and the Open Forum will continue in their present formats while all policies and proposals will be debated in public at States Meetings before a final vote.
In addition to dealing with legislative matters, the monthly States Meetings will provide the opportunity for reports and questions on each ‘portfolio’, thus providing public accountability for actions, plans and proposals.
Financial oversight with specific spending limits is currently provided by the Civil Service, and a new Audit Panel will be set up to scrutinise expenditure.
The President will remain the Ceremonial and Civic Head of Alderney and the Island’s First Citizen, elected to the politically neutral role every four years.
Alderney’s election dates will be changed to take place at the same time at Guernsey’s.
Public consultation will continue until August 12th, and a public drop-in at the Anne French Room in the Island Hall is scheduled for July 28th (10am-7pm). This will be followed by a People’s Meeting on September 7th (7pm), then debate and vote at the States of Alderney Meeting on September 14th.
If the States approves the proposals, implementation will take place over a transitionary period with a view to being fully in place by the June 2025 General Election which will be held at the same time as Guernsey’s elections.
Full consultation information can be viewed at the States General Office, the Alderney Library or downloaded here. You can email the States of Alderney with your views.