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Chris Clark, outgoing IoD Jersey Chair, holds Government to account

Chris Clark, outgoing IoD Jersey Chair, holds Government to account

At last night’s IoD Jersey Annual Members Meeting (23rd May 2019), outgoing Chairman, Chris Clark, shared his thoughts following three years in office.

He thanked his committee, reviewed the highlights of the past three years, explained regret over not seeing the introduction of a Highlands University or a determined site for the new hospital, and held the Government of Jersey to account on efficiency, leadership and accountability.

Chris said: “Where we have the opportunity to hold our Council of Ministers to account for promises that they committed to, we must hold them and the Executive accountable”.

He continued: “Whilst evidently critical of failings, we continue to support the Chief Minister, as well as Charlie Parker, through this period of reform internally and extreme political pressure externally courtesy of the ongoing Brexit dialogue beyond our shores.”

He reminded members that the IoD’s primary focus is to deliver ‘Better Business driving a Better Economy for a Better Community’. The IoD’s Royal Charter states: ‘Our Mission is todevelop, support and represent skilled, knowledgeable and responsible leaders, for the benefit of the economy and society at large.’

Chris Clark was proud to talk about his committee and the amount of money raised by IoD Jersey this year for charity. He said “Over the last year the IoD have raised the following sums for local charities: At the debate we raised at total of £2916 for SCBU and Family Nursing & Home Care; At the Christmas lunch we raised £520 for JSPCA and £520 for Brightly; At the recent IoD Awards we raised £700 for Jersey Hospice.”

Mr Clark thanked the Committee: “We are fortunate, in light of the workload we all face, to have retained the majority of our volunteers across the committee and sub-committee structure” and thanked Lisa Springate for taking on the role as the new Chair “With Lisa on board, I am confident that we can ensure that the Government has a conduit to Industry and whilst at time we have been cynical of the efficiency of Government, they have been more willing to engage with the IoD in the last 12 months compared with the last few years, which is positive. We are now having regular meetings with the Chief Minister and will continue to request the participation of the Chief Executive of the States of Jersey so that we are well placed in understanding their challenges, whilst providing us an opportunity to be both a sounding board and critical friend.”

Clark reiterated: “We help to ensure that the Island retains the simple things which differentiate us – simple, clear and consistent policy, taxation and a brand positioning statement, which will maintain our place as an attractive place to live, work and prosper. There have been rumblings regarding an increase in taxation once more yet no evidence that the Government has made any steps in becoming more effective or efficient. We do have to consider whether the Chief Executive is genuinely right sizing Government for an Island of 103,000 citizens or, as challenged at our Mid-Year Review, creating Westminster on Sea?  We believe more scrutiny is required, at times of local unrest, whether it is the teachers striking or nurses requiring cost of living pay increases on one hand, yet on the other, a burgeoning Executive team and UK supply behaviour which does little to support or fuel the local economy. Think twice buy local is a required behaviour, it is not a strapline”.

“Whilst I am obviously critical of some aspects of Government, we must acknowledge success across the arms length organisations, the Ports of Jersey, Andium, Visit Jersey, Jersey Finance, Digital Jersey, Jersey Business, The Financial Ombudsman, the Office of the Information Commissioner etc. are all delivering exceptional value to the Island as a whole.  Perhaps, when considering right sizing, rather than to run to a tax increase, Government of Jersey could genuinely consider their own service portfolio and ensure that this is right sized and relevant or aimed at a user pays approach for those who consume the service? They certainly should not expand their portfolio of services by competing directly with local businesses that contribute in tax take rather then take tax to run”.

In closing, Mr Clark was reflective: “There are two things which I truly hoped that I would have seen progress in my tenure. My support for Highlands and their aspirations to become a South Coast University campus which could provide so much value to Jersey by introducing new talent to our Island and an exemplar in Smart buildings has stalled, as it has become inextricably linked with the Hospital. The ‘do-si-do dance steps’ around the Hospital are simply an embarrassment. The Government needed to show leadership and choose the right site for the Hospital, rather than their approach to placate the verbal minority or maintain a political majority. A park sits empty yet was the right site for logistics and the safe delivery of essential services for all Islanders. My frustration is obvious so I will leave it there.

“Regarding the attractiveness of the IoD to our membership, we continually strive to engage a more diverse audience (gender, age and ethnicity) and our calendar of events, as well as our Committee system, under Lisa’s leadership, will drive these and many more positive areas of influence forward. It must be acknowledged that everybody gives their time to the IOD for free, and I can assure you that it is a significant commitment.  I thank all the committee and sub-committee members for giving their time and expertise. 

“The IoD provide an exceptional network and an opportunity to give something back to our community – we build friendships, business connections and raise awareness of positive business developments spanning governance, innovation and total societal impact. If you want to make a difference, please, get involved and help Lisa and the team to make a continued contribution to our economy and our society.”