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Statement by the Alderney Representative on behalf of the States of Alderney

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Wednesday 24 January 2024

General Update

I am grateful for the opportunity to update the Assembly on the work undertaken across the States of Alderney during 2023 and our priorities for 2024. It has been a very busy year for our Island, and I will focus on the areas of our work which are most pertinent to the Bailiwick as a whole and the relationship between our two islands in particular.

As well as our close Bailiwick ties, we share the same agenda for change with Guernsey and this is demonstrated in the similarities in our ongoing programmes of work. In a list which will be all-too familiar to Guernsey colleagues, we have focused on the sustainability of public finances, securing the core services required by our community and supporting and fostering economic growth. Given the numerous overlaps and similarities in our areas of focus - a point illustrated by the common themes between Guernsey's Government Work Plan and Alderney's Island Plan - we have been grateful for the greater collaboration through the Working Together initiative and hence the support of Guernsey politicians and officers provided over the last year. To a great extent, this initiative has contributed to our working practices and processes, provided expertise in areas that our organisation does not have the fortune of possessing, acted as an enabler to progress workstreams that contribute to the retention of people and the attraction of young families, and has improved our economic and tourism strategies which will benefit not only Alderney, but the Bailiwick as a whole. We are therefore looking forward to building on the positive foundations established to date with the new Policy & Resources Committee. We were grateful for the early correspondence from Deputy Trott and are keen to welcome him and his Committee to Alderney as soon as possible.

The themes on the agenda of the Island Plancontinue to mature as we focus on those areas which will make the greatest difference to our community. There are, of course, only limited resources available within Alderney and we're conscious of the need to prioritise effectively, including considering how our workstreams can be complementary to their Guernsey equivalents.  

To take our areas of focus in turn:

We have focused on public finances; striving towards value for money, challenging expenditure, identifying opportunities for additional income and delivering efficiencies so that funding is allocated to areas of greatest priority. Exceptional, and unavoidable, operational pressures within health and care provision meant that we entered 2023 with an anticipated deficit in the revenue budget of over £500,000. Through careful management and constant evaluation across government's budgets, the position improved over the course of the year and we're anticipating that the final figures will show a deficit in the region of £400,000 The position is improved further still for this year where, through further scrutiny of expenditure and proportionate increases to Alderney Property Tax, we are anticipating a balanced revenue budget. We have not shied away from making the challenging decisions necessary to make savings wherever possible and will continue to do so.

At the same time, we are continuing a proportionate programme of capital investment; predominantly funded by Alderney Gambling Control Commission surpluses. There is a structured programme of investment, combining necessary routine works  with focused improvement activity for example the phased work on the Mouriaux to Platte Saline Sewer Scheme and funding support for new social housing in conjunction with the Alderney Housing Association.  

In common with Guernsey, we are  adopting principles of best practice on financial reporting. As part of this, work is underway to prepare a Property Asset Register. This central point of reference will provide the evidence necessary to inform future decisions on the size and use of the States' estate including decisions to release or redevelop properties.  

Regarding public services, healthcare has, once again, dominated time. After significant operational risks in 2022, healthcare provision is stabilised. The primary healthcare practice - Island Medical Centre - is operating safely and efficiently, providing an enhanced service to the public with more appointments available.  

A newly commissioned ambulance service provided by St John Ambulance and Rescue Service Guernsey commenced last year. The Alderney service is a satellite station of the Guernsey organisation, operating under the same clinical governance framework, and with ongoing support, leadership and oversight provided by senior staff in Guernsey.  Locally based staff have been suitably trained and will be supported by a small number of volunteers who will act as Community First Responders.  This new resilient and professional service provides reassurances to the Community and complements our existing emergency service provision on Island.

Stabilising healthcare, whilst hugely important, was only the short term aim with the longer aim to develop a sustainable and integrated  care model which can effectively respond to the needs of an ageing population. Our integrated care strategy which we are working on in Alderney today will work in Guernsey in the future as you face the same challenges and we're grateful for the opportunities created through the Alderney Care Board to share expertise, and collectively develop delivery models, with colleagues in the Committee forHealth & Social Care. We believe that significant change in how care is delivered will be seen over the coming months. Importantly, the joint working in regard to healthcare has demonstrated a mature, twenty-first century approach to the transferred services where the two Islands have worked collaboratively, acknowledging respective roles and responsibilities to ultimately deliver improved services which should lead to efficiencies for both Islands. We hope that this can prove a blueprint for other areas of joint working between the two islands.  

Similarly in common with Guernsey, we wish to support and foster economic growth and a key focus is preparing for the forthcoming MoneyVal inspection. We are united with our Bailiwick colleagues in our commitment to meeting the FATF standards. We continue to do all we can to support the Bailiwick's collective position, consistently prioritising the consideration and approval of the legislation needed to support MoneyVal. Data is being collated which will demonstrate to the inspectors the steps taken within Alderney to regulate businesses to international standards.

The formal establishment of an Economic Development Committee as a full Committee of the States of Alderney in January 2023 has brought with it greater opportunity to focus on Alderney's economic prosperity. The Committee has worked closely with a range of stakeholders, both on-island and across the Channel Islands, to understand current experiences and opportunities with the aim of developing phased and prioritised plans to increase economic activity through enhanced employment opportunities and transport links. Alderney already punches above its weight; the Gambling Commission being an obvious example, but we know that there is further untapped potential which would benefit not just Alderney but the Bailiwick as a whole. Work has been allocated to four pillars of activity; Tourism and Marketing, Business and Commerce, Locate Alderney, and Digital Infrastructure.

Alderney is open for business, and we're working with all those involved to ensure that we have the right infrastructure and legislation to support the established sectors whilst attracting new businesses and individuals to the Island. This will be supported by wider activity ongoing through the States of Alderney, for example the commissioned  development of the Braye Opportunity Area Masterplan.

It won't surprise the Assembly to hear that the key priority for Alderney remains the necessary, and overdue, works to the airport. The project, as approved by this Assembly in December 2022 and reaffirmed through its inclusion in the Funding & Investment Plan, to refurbish and lengthen the runway is vital investment in order to secure and futureproof transport links for Alderney. Aurigny and Alderney Airport have been the cornerstone of connectivity for our island community for many, many years and although there are fewer destinations through direct routes now, than there once were, Southampton and Guernsey represent our lifelines that we  depend on and to keep these routes alive through the runway investment is more important than ever.  The States of Alderney continues to do all it can to support the project which is now the subject of a live planning application.  

On the subject of futureproofing, the States of Alderney are working regularly with Alderney Electricity limited on the implementation of a renewables strategy, in line with the recently agreed Energy policy and will be frequently engaging with the general public on regarding renewable domestic energy initiatives for the island. Furthermore, as we look to enhance Alderney's contribution to the Bailiwick's future prosperity, we have started working with Guernsey to look at developing marine renewables within our waters in order to use our assets to forge a sustainable future for the Bailiwick.

We recognise that capital investment is understandably a contentious subject in Guernsey, made more so by recent decisions within the Assembly. We are as invested in the delivery of the full Capital Portfolio as Guernsey. We know for example that the digital elements of the Transforming Education Programme would have tremendous benefits for our learners in St Anne's as would the development of the Guernsey Institute. The merits of these other, well-deserving projects do not however detract from the need for investment in Alderney Airport. Option C+ has already been agreed as the optimum solution for Alderney airport and we're grateful to the States' Trading Supervisory Board for their continued support. We do need to get on with these necessary improvements to Alderney's runaway and we hope that there are no further challenges to the process as this project is not only essential to Alderney but will provide benefits to the Bailiwick as a whole.

Sir, I am really grateful for the opportunity to provide this update to the Assembly, and I welcome any questions. Thank you, sir.

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