What next is key to ports master plan
Friday 8th February 2013, 3:31PM GMT.
PUBLICATION of the ports master plan and its potential for reclaiming the North Beach car park indicate the difficulties Guernsey has let itself drift into regarding paid parking – and the dangers of letting a single department direct policy on strategic public assets.
The 100-page document, for all its polish and depth, is designed for one purpose: to get Public Services where it and the harbour authorities believe they should be.
That is not to criticise the document. Far from it. There is much quality and vision in it but for all the consultation that went into it, the starting point was narrow – the future requirements of the port operator – while the ramifications are potentially much wider.
PSD was right to start the process, not least because the way the island imports essential fuel supplies has to change in the future, but its implementation will require wider ownership.
For instance, much of the document is based on growth forecasts while the underlying data might suggest that the island is now off peak.
Additionally, as a community supposedly wedded to the concept of a sustainable Guernsey, ought we be planning for expansion at all? Should that be left to default, chance or government policy? Or determined by the port operator?
It is also clear that a turf war is developing over what happens to any paid parking revenues. Environment wants it for its as yet undefined transport strategy while PSD knows that unless there is cash for a multi-storey car park, it won’t get its hands on North Beach.
The report also draws attention to the way public assets cost money to own and maintain yet make no financial return and to the fragmented way ownership and control of seafront land is allocated.
And the very fact that parking and the future of North Beach has been raised means there is a risk that the central issue – safeguarding Guernsey’s freight capability – gets submerged by the knock-on effects on two powerful lobbies: motorists and St Peter Port’s retailers.
The ports master plan is a valuable and timely document – but it’s what happens next that is key.
CampaignsVoice For Victims
Voice for Victims is a campaign aimed at promoting the rights of those affected by child sexual abuse.