Review of alcohol licensing and Sunday trading laws

Economic Development Minister Kirsten Morel in the market Picture: James Jeune (38110717)

STRICT rules around Sunday trading in Jersey could change as part of work to break down barriers to business, the Economic Development Minister has indicated.

Deputy Kirsten Morel yesterday published his response to recommendations in the Barriers to Business report, Enabling Business.

Released last December, the £90,000 study, conducted by Jersey Business, warned that failure to act on its suggestions – which included an overhaul of employment licensing and removing restrictions on opening hours – would result in “reputational damage” and a “continuing downward economic trajectory” for the Island.

Survey results further revealed that the greatest challenges to businesses were staff recruitment and retention and complying with burdensome government legislation and registration.

Deputy Morel said work was under way to implement 17 of the 38 recommendations, adding that the rest had either been tabled for “future review”, considered part of an “ongoing process” or “not requiring any action”.

As part of plans to revitalise town, the report said: “Alcohol licensing is being reviewed in 2024 as part of the delivery of the Visitor Economy Strategy and Sunday trading regulations are being explored as part of the development of the Retail Strategy.”

Only in 2019 were larger shops and supermarkets allowed to open on a Sunday after a proposition passed by the States Assembly.

The successful proposal, which was brought by Deputy Lyndon Farnham while he was Economic Development Minister in the previous government, means shops over 700 square metres can open on Sundays but only between 10am and 4pm.

Deputy Morel has published his response to recommendations in the Barriers to Business report

Deputy Morel emphasised that issues such as the minimum wage, simplifying government processes and reviewing housing controls in the Island were being dealt with through other government priorities.

The report also stated: “In addition, the Economic Development Minister recently granted an exemption under the Places of Refreshment (Jersey) Law 1967 to enable a vending store to operate 24/7.

“This allowed the business to test its innovative concept with new consumer demand.”

24/7 Vend Store, based on the corner of York Street and Seale Street, opened last October, and is inspired by the vending machines on the streets of Japan.

Other areas of action set out in Enabling Business included exploring “the relaxation of planning control to enable Islanders to undertake more work without the need for planning permission”.

And there are hints that the Competition Law could be revamped to lower prices and keep competition among Island businesses healthy.

Under the law, the States have the power to step in and regulate prices if Members deem that necessary.

Deputy Morel said over 60% of the recommendations have been completed so far

Enabling Business stated: “Further to last year’s public consultation, legislative proposals are being developed which aim to ensure that Jersey’s competition framework supports business innovation and growth, keeps prices down and looks after the interests of consumers.”

However, the report also concluded that there was no further action needed on regulating harbour fees, which many cited as hiking up their operational costs.

It said: “Harbour dues and other fees are required to maintain the Island’s lifeline port infrastructure and are regulated by the Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority to ensure they are at an appropriate level.

“Occasional time-bound discounts are offered to incentivise new trade.”

It said that for 2024 to 2025, Ports of Jersey would not implement the full price increase permitted for berthing fees under the Pricing Framework and would also continue the concession on berthing fees for registered fishing vessels.

It also confirmed that it was not considering providing temporary accommodation measures, such as a cruise ship, for seasonal workers.

Deputy Morel said: “I am encouraged that, in the six months since the Barriers to Business Report was published, over 60% of the recommendations have been completed, are under way or do not require further action but this is just the beginning of our journey and we will continue to work hard to remove barriers to business and ensure that Jersey has an enabling environment for enterprise.

“It is essential that we continue to do this because of the long-term economic challenge of low productivity we have had for so long, and because of demographic shifts which we face so soon in the future.”

He added that there would be further updates, and Jersey Business and the Economy Department would meet monthly to ensure that progress on the recommendations continued.

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