VOTERS in seven of the Island's 12 parishes go to the polls tomorrow to elect 23 Deputies to sit in the States for the next three years. A total of 51 candidates are fighting for the vacant seats. and the first results are expected to he announced within an hour of the polls closing.
In St Helier there are contests in all three districts, with five candidates chasing three seats in No I, seven after a similar number in No 2, and nine contesting the four vacant seats in No 3. The polling stations are at the Town Hall (No 1 district), St Mark's Church Hall, David Place (No 2 District) and either Rouge Bouillon School or First Tower. depending on people's addresses, for No 3 district.
There is a similar picture in St Saviour, with all three districts being contested. Six candidates have been proposed for the two vacancies in No 1, three for the one vacancy in No 2, and three for the one vacancy in No 3. The respective polling stations are at Georgetown (Royal Crescent Methodist Church Hall), the Parish Hall and Eden Methodist Church Hall.
Voting in a Deputies election is quite rare in St Clement, but tomorrow the electors there can exercise their right, for there are three candidates for the two vacant seats. Voting is at the Parish Hall. In Grouville there are four candidates for the one vacancy, with voting at the Parish Hall: and at St Martin, where the voting is at the Public Hall, there are two candidates for the one vacancy.
In this posting, I'm looking particularly at St Clement's where there were three candidates for two positions. Later I'll look at other Parishes. In St Clements, needless to say, the two older (and sitting) candidates were the ones who retained their seats.
It's interesting to see that rates reform and the centralisation of the system to income support was on the agenda even back then, for all three candidates. I suspect though that this was not because Parish welfare could be extremely difficult to obtain, depending upon the fickleness of parish board considering cases rather than any particular rules. It's clear that at least part of the reason is the high cost to the Parish, a kind of postcode lottery in which more populous Parishes had more cases of welfare. Len Norman for instance wants to shift the welfare burden off the Parish and so that it is more centrally distributed across all the other parishes. But all the candidates agree that welfare should be centralised.
This makes it even more amazing that it is only recently, under a Deputy of St Clements, Ian Gorst, that such a change has actually taken place. Why, one may ask did it take so long? Who didn't want what seems to have been an obvious move? I think a lot of that has to do with Parish control over their own rates, something Malcolm McEwen mentions, but is probably at the forefront of other States members. The current system of having an Island rate, but retaining a Parish rate, means the Parishes have not surrendered control of their finances, and the working out of proportions involved undoubtedly involved a lot of wrangling.
The one candidate who did not get elected, Malcolm McEwen, seems to be addressing present day concerns such as immigration, freedom of information, and open government. Some headway has been made on these matters but it has been painfully slow and it is clear that these did not feature very highly on the list of priorities of the two candidates who were elected.
Did the drugs menace turn out to be a significant threat as Len Norman suggested? I don't think so, and I think this is a little bit of an "idée fixe" of his.
The style of presentation of the candidates is interesting, with sitting States members listing a number of States posts without actually saying that much, if at all, about what they did as member of this that or the other committee. The memberships are displayed rather like display of a peacock, and don't actually tell us if they were effective members or not, apart from the main committees which they were President or Vice-President. Indeed, there is a singular lack of policy in connection with these memberships. They might as well be claiming membership of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes, for all the good it does. I suspect they hope to bask in reflected glory - if the Committees on which they were members did some good, some of the credit should rub off on them.
It is interesting that Harry Baudains is calling for yet another committee! The way in which committees and subcommittees sprouted like the heads of the hydra do give some indication of why the whole structure became so unwieldy that it would need substantial reform.
It may also be significant that for Malcolm McEwen's failure that he did not live in the Parish, although he grew up in the Parish. It was and still is quite common for Town Deputies, in particular, to come from rural districts, but rather rarer for a candidate to come (and be elected) from outside the country Parishes.
Occupation: Retired farmer
DEPUTY Harry Baudains has been a St Clement representative for the last seven years and has served on IDC [the old planning department] during all of that time, the last six years as vice-president.
He has been a member of the Education Committee for four years. He also served on the Tree Council for six years and has an interest in environmental mutters,
The Deputy, who was born in the parish and has lived there ever since, says he has worked for some time in trying to prove how unfair the present system of raising welfare is. He is glad that Policy and Resources now agree that there is an injustice.
The IDC vice-president, who is married with two grown-up children, says that although the committee's decisions do not always receive universal acclaim, he believes that the latest housing projects and traditional buildings are generally admired.
Deputy Baudains, a former Treasurer of the Jersey Farmers Union, also wants to see more help for light industry.
'I argued during the Strategic Policy debate in favour of a committee for light industry, as I feel that this is essential if we are to regain full employment. I would like the opportunity to pursue this matter." he said.
Occupation: Fitter / Fabricator
MALCOLM McEwen has stood for public office once before when he was unsuccessful in a by-election in St Saviour No 1 last year.
Mr McEwen, a member of the executive committee of Concern grew up and was educated in St Clement, although he now lives in St Saviour.
Earlier this year he decided to move from his fathers engineering business to become a self-employed tradesman so that he could stand for election, He says he stands for wider and fairer representation of the electorate. "The majority of people are not represented, especially the younger generations," he says. He believes that be welfare system should be centrally funded and says that the parish must not lose its right to set its own rates.
Mr McEwen is a supporter of freedom of information and open government. and he believes that the public should have access to States committee meetings.
He wants to see the powers of the honorary police enhanced so that they can deal with petty crime and public order offences.
He also feels that housing policy has not improved for the better and says that the Island needs properly to address the immigration question if it is to go forward.
Occupation: Company director
DEPUTY Len Norman has been a Deputy for St Clement since May 1983, when he was successful in a by-election following the death of Deputy Dick O'Connor.
He is currently president of Housing and has overseen one of the most prolific States sector building programmes ever seen.
The Deputy is also the vice-President of Harbours and Airport and Postal. He is a director of the Jersey New Waterworks Company and a member of the Waterfront Enterprise Board.
Deputy Norman says that the most important issue facing the electorate of St Clement is the ever-increasing rates burden caused almost exclusively by the level of welfare paid by the parish.
"At last there is an Island wide recognition that while those in need of help should continue to receive that help, the burden on our parish is unfair.' he said. He has also been pleased to announce recently that due to the success of the Housing Committee's policies there should he no need to rezone open land for housing.
The Deputy believes that the biggest threat to the next generation is drugs. He says that he will urge that the police and Customs be resourced not only to contain the menace, but to defeat it.
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