Chief Minister yet to decide if he will stand for re-election

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GUIDING the Island through the pandemic is the biggest achievement of his time in charge, the Chief Minister has said – adding that he has yet to decide whether he will stand in June’s general election.

If Senator Le Fondré wants to be considered for Chief Minister as a member of the Alliance Party, he will need to decide whether he is standing in the next few weeks as the party will elect its leader on 12 February, who will also be its candidate for Chief Minister should that person be successful in June.

With five months before Islanders head to the polls, Senator John Le Fondré has been reflecting on his time in office as well as looking ahead to the projects which will shape the next few months.

‘You cannot ignore Covid,’ he said. ‘I think we should be very proud of how we have come through.’

Senator Le Fondré added that given the ‘sheer health impacts of Covid’, the government had managed to keep the number of deaths due to Covid-19 low.

‘Certainly in 2020 we did not have excess deaths, so we have protected Islanders lives. I think we have protected livelihoods as well, and we have done some of the biggest schemes in short order,’ he said.

Senator Le Fondré highlighted the Co-Funding Payroll Scheme and unprecedented government support for various industries that was rolled out during the pandemic.

‘All those sorts of things were put in place and we did respond pretty swiftly,’ he said.

Asked what the most difficult decision he had had to make in the past four years was, he replied: ‘When Ivan [deputy medical officer Dr Ivan Muscat] came to us in March 2020, saying we have got revised modelling here and we think if you do nothing 500 people could die.’

He added: ‘That was the start of everything, the start of going into lockdown.’

Discussing running in this year’s election, Senator Le Fondré, who is a member of the Jersey Alliance party, said: ‘I am making my mind up in the next few weeks.’

He added that it was ‘important’ to discuss the matter with his family before making the decision.

In the months running up to the election, Senator Le Fondré said he hoped to see projects such as the proposed new hospital and Fort Regent progress, following decades without any action.

Clearance work began in Fort Regent’s outdoor spaces last week. Around 60 to 70 trees have so far been earmarked for removal by the government’s forestry team as part of the opening phase of the project, which is designed to turn the site into a cultural and leisure destination.

The Chief Minister said: ‘We are all very keen to see what the position is on the Hospital planning application. That will be one to determine.’

The public inquiry into the planning application for the proposed new hospital at Overdale is scheduled to begin on 28 March.

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