BURNING issues such as Scrutiny, diversifying the economy and John Sergeant’s exit from BBC show ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ were all hot topics at last night’s hustings in St Peter.
About 200 people in St Peter’s Community Centre put a total of 24 questions to candidates Deputy Collin Egré and Julie Rabet, who are competing for one seat.
The only notable slip-up of the evening came when Deputy Egré, in his opening speech, said that a number of people had come up to him and asked him to ‘stand for Constable . . . er . . . I mean Deputy . . .’
Retiring Constable Tom du Feu received a standing ovation from his parishioners at his final parish sitting last night.
Tony Gray asked if the present Scrutiny system was enough to keep the Council of Ministers in check.
Deputy Egré said that yes, he thought it was. ‘I have served on the Corporate Scrutiny panel for three years and succeeded in bringing checks and balances, but I know that there are some Scrutiny panels which don’t operate in the same way.’
Mrs Rabet said: ‘The guidelines set by Scrutiny should be maintained for consistency.’ She added that consultation with the electorate could be fed back to Scrutiny.
Chris Benest asked if the Island should diversify its economy instead of relying on the finance industry and wondered in what ways Jersey could do this.
Mrs Rabet, who is self-employed in the pet care industry, said that more assistance should be given to small businesses. ‘This would encourage local people and give them the opportunity to get on the ladder.’
Deputy Egré said that Jersey’s economy had been narrowed and that we were tied down to the financial industry. ‘We should diversify into e-commerce. We have an infrastructure already in place. We need to give governmental support in that area.’
Doreen Mauger asked why Sunset Nurseries and De La Mare Nurseries were giving up. Deputy Egré said that the owners were having to cope with increasing overheads and cheaper imports, which meant that their nurseries were no longer sustainable or affordable.
Mrs Rabet said that labour costs, fuel prices and export costs were increasing and there was more competition from European countries. She also said that staff employment regulations made it hard for people to carry on.
On a lighter note, Graham Le Cuirot asked the candidates what their opinion was on the resignation of John Sergeant from television’s ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.
Mrs Rabet said that she didn’t have time for TV and Deputy Egré said that he was pleased that Mr Sergeant had entered the competition and pleased he had resigned.
• Picture: Julie Rabet answers a question at the St Peter hustings Picture by David Ferguson (00602076)