THE PRESIDENT’S REPORT – AGM 2020

The President’s Report 2020
Andrew Eggleston
Three Critical Strategies Where are they?
While having a well needed sort through our books at home last month, we found in the Alderney section a Chamber of Commerce pamphlet of some 35 years ago telling us that “the positive intention of the Alderney Government is to maintain its stability through long term planning – and that the island offers the ability to conduct business both onshore and offshore.” It also commented that Alderney is the headquarters of Aurigny- but such is history!So, 35 years later, where are we and have we moved forward? Yes in many sectors but no in others. It remains disappointing and almost unbelievable that the island still has not prepared an economic strategy, a transport strategy or a tourist strategy. These three approaches are so critical for our future – short term, medium term and long term. It is so important to create and fulfil all three.

The Pandemic resulted in a Resilient Island
Everything, however, this year has been eclipsed by the pandemic Covid-19. Due to the professionalism and forward thinking of those at the leading edge in Guernsey – especially Dr Brink and Deputy Gavin St. Pier – the Bailiwick has fared incredibly well.

It has been refreshing to see their politicians and Civil Service working together for the common good – a leaf should be taken out of Guernsey’s book on such a relationship.

Despite the immediate shut down of our hospitality sector and paralysis primarily of the building sector, other sectors showed superb resilience by selling on-line and making home deliveries with volunteers stepping forward. This has been island life at its best – pulling together and working together.

Now, more than ever, is the time to support our local shops and businesses.

A Positive Future Awaits
The Pandemic has made us look at ourselves from within and now is the time to reach for the opportunities it offers us.

How many thousands of people in the UK now realise they don’t actually have to commute to work and don’t really need a stylish address or even a high street presence. Just look at what Alderney can offer them – a safe haven or heaven just south of the Isle of Wight! We must grasp this ready-made
opportunity. It is there for the taking.

 

Website Thanks
I don’t usually name individual members in my report as we work solidly as a collective. But I would really like to thank Johny Parmentier for creating Chamber’s new, clean and modern website – and all done voluntarily for Chamber.Chamber embarks on Conference Calls
It has been especially satisfying to have worked closely with the Civil Service in past months that has included the creation and collation of surveys resulting in solid facts for onward transmission to both the States of Alderney and States of Guernsey. This we combined with our weekly conference calls with the Civil Service about the general situation as the virus situation gathered pace.As with other bodies, Chamber’s Council continued its meetings and conference calls using Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp and Team – a learning curve for all of us with some finding it easier than others!
What has surprised us has been the amount of radio and television interviews that have come our way on so many island topics along with many interviews and reports within our two papers and the Guernsey Press

The Style of Government
The Governance Group – on which I sit with three States Members and the CEO – has proved to be a constructive and confident group that is coming to its conclusion, and with appetite from within, we
could and should see change for the better within our style of government.

‘Economic Enablers’
We refer to economic enablers too often perhaps – probably because they are too rare a species on the island. Our number one enabler is without doubt transport, both in the air and on the sea.

In the Air- well, where are we? Covid 19 brought services to its knees but rightly so. The immediate lockdown was a great success and still we don’t have any cases. The pandemic may well have brought about a natural conclusion to the ill-fated and time weary PSO that Guernsey was seemingly using to
gain an entry in the Guinness Book of Records for the most drawn out political farce – and only beaten into second place by Brexit.
The suggestion now is that the PSO is sidelined and the preferred bidder is Aurigny. As a States owned airline, we should be in a safer position than picking a start-up airline. We simply need a reliable scheduled service. A charter service is not what we require.

On the Sea- again, where are we? This time, we know where we can be and fairly soon. A Marina. With regret, I can recall a proposal some 30 years ago in 1991 with plans for a marina on the eastern part of Braye Bay. Nothing materialised. Then just some four years ago, a further presentation was put to the States from a different company for a Marina in the same position.

This time, it was derailed internally by the States of the time preferring an alternative plan from another party that foundered almost before the ink was dry- and so the island lost out.

 

We are now being offered a positive way forward for a 250 berth marina again at the east end of Braye Bay. A wise decision to keep commercial and pleasure boating apart as all serious parties have concluded.

May history not repeat itself. May our politicians – elected by the people of Alderney for the good of Alderney – have the confidence to realise the undoubted economic strength of such a development.

We are already aware of the usual social media rants from the vociferous minority (no more than a count on two hands). The future of Alderney is larger and more important than any one person.
Please may they understand that.

On the Inside
Apart from our monthly full Council meetings, we also meet regularly within our sub-groups despite the increasing use of email chat – and virtual meetings as in recent months. These smaller groups include air transport, sea transport, economic development and marina.

Our membership is the largest it has ever been. No matter whether a business is a sole trader, a small to medium size unit or a larger finance group, we are all equal within the eyes of Alderney.Members will have seen a marked increase in the number of emails received during the year. These include States notices, Chamber comment & Chamber surveys and, as always, we look forward to receiving back all thoughts, questions and comment that come to mind.

Our Council has really worked as one with all Council Members taking various responsibilities. We work on a voluntary basis and put in many many hours simply for the island we all enjoy and live on.

And finally…….

We are looking to draw up a list of members who would be happy to spend some time on an occasional basis when topics arise that fall out of the scope of Council members. Please help us with this. Just contact one of our Council or email on info@alderneychamber.com

Thank you

Andrew Eggleston
President

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