Call for Jersey government to remove red tape to help St Helier bounce back after Covid lockdowns

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JERSEY’S new government should urgently remove the red tape around visitor-work-permit applications to help town bounce back following the pandemic, St Helier’s Constable has said.

Last week the town footfall monitor recorded 159,394 movements, which represents a continued increase since the depths of the Covid lockdowns but is still below pre-pandemic levels.

But Simon Crowcroft said that retail and hospitality businesses were being held back by a lack of staff which he said was resulting in fewer people visiting St Helier.

Constable Simon Crowcroft

‘We have the continued difficulty in recruiting staff in both hospitality and retail which forces businesses to operate fewer hours and also impacts footfall,’ he said.

‘I think as long as the new government does all it can to remove the red tape which is holding a number of businesses back, then we will see figures return to 2019 levels.

‘We are hearing stories of people waiting months for visiting-worker applications to be processed. We need to be able to let our retail and hospitality sectors recruit properly,’ he added.

But the recently re-elected town representative explained that the current investment in St Helier was ‘incredibly encouraging’ and said it would play a role in keeping footfall on an upward trajectory.

A number of hospitality venues – included French brasserie Colmar, which sits on the King Street site formerly occupied by shoe retailer Beghins – have recently opened.

David Voisin, director of Brasserie Colmar Picture: ROB CURRIE. (33561583)

The Merchants coffee shop, where everything in the shop is for sale including the furniture, artwork and vinyl, has opened at 4 Beresford Street opposite the Central Market.

And, earlier this week, The Rigatoni, a ‘modern Italian’ restaurant which offers all-day dining, opened in Liberty Wharf.

Town centre manager Conor Burgher said the recent investment was bringing a ‘continental feel’ to St Helier.

He said: ‘The town centre has continued to show its resilience and I think the next chapter will be taken up more so by hospitality.

‘We want to continue to support al fresco as much as possible because letting people sit outside has a knock-on effect whereby they look around and are encouraged to shop in other places.

‘We are still slightly down on 2019 but we are moving in the right direction and, as we continue to welcome more tourists for the summer, I think the numbers will only get better.’

His views were echoed by Mr Crowcroft who said that shopping and eating in town was still an important part of island life.

‘You cannot beat the experience of going for a glass of wine, a coffee with a friend or a meal out to celebrate. The recent hospitality investment into town is incredibly encouraging and it shows enthusiasm and confidence. There is a great degree of variety and something for everyone. Hospitality is increasingly becoming a very important experience in town,’ he said.

‘It will also play a part in our tourism offer. There is a real case for a short-stay tourism market in town where visitors can enjoy the variety of venues on offer and make use of our town hotels.’

Town footfall figures 2022

3 to 9 January: 89,059

31 January to 6 February: 105,451

28 February to 6 March: 112,269

28 March to 3 April: 110,411

2 May to 8 May: 137,031

30 May to 5 June: 142,517

20 June to 26 June: 159,394

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