Assistant Chief Minister Rowland Huelin, who has responsibility for the area, said there was nothing that he did not want to hear ahead of the formulation of the long-awaited policy, which he reaffirmed would be lodged for States debate later this year. The public consultation closes on Friday (10 September).
‘Every response will be read and every one will be considered. Some are saying it’s your job to do this, so why are you asking us. We could do that but then we get the other objection that we have not consulted. This is for the Island so I really want the Island’s contribution,’ he said.
Deputy Huelin said that they particularly wanted to hear from young people, who he said would benefit most from the forthcoming policy, and he added that he wanted to encourage Islanders with younger family members living away from Jersey to respond to the consultation, which is available online.
The Deputy rejected the suggestion that the recent report on the draft Bridging Island Plan – in which the Environment Minister acknowledged that he was progressing policies which had prompted a wave of objections – might constitute a disincentive for the public to engage on the population consultation.
He said that responding to individual planning issues was quite different from what he described as the ‘holistic’ question of the population policy which touched on the agendas of all government departments.
‘One of the first initiatives was to have a workshop with the Council of Ministers because the policy embraces all ministries and we are having round two at the end of September.
‘Without engaging all ministries, it doesn’t then become a common population policy that is supported by all ministries and by all government. I think we are making good progress on that,’ he said.
Development of the policy has already involved direct approaches to a number of key organisations including the Jersey Hospitality Association, Jersey Business and the Chamber of Commerce, and to Islanders who had previously contributed to the review of migration controls. Targeted groups have also been asked to address specific questions in focus groups.
Deputy Huelin said that he was prepared to meet anyone who wanted to discuss their response to the consultation, and he urged all Islanders to take the opportunity to make ‘a positive contribution as opposed to a bleat’.
‘I’m all ears,’ he said. ‘I’ve had some really informative conversations with people.’
To respond to the consultation, Islanders can complete an online questionnaire available on the consultations section of gov.je and, if they wish to, they can submit a longer submission by email.
Copies of the questionnaire are also available from parish halls and from the Co-op, and they are available online in Portuguese, Polish and Romanian to capture the views of those for whom English is not their first language.