A one-day study visit by representatives from the Parish of St Helier in Jersey to meet with Councillors and officers of Douglas Borough Council has proved ‘extremely worthwhile’, said delegation leader Connétable Simon Crowcroft.
Mr Crowcroft was joined by Procureur du Bien Public Geraint Jennings and roads committee member Julian Rogers to learn more about the Council’s delivery of services, including its recycling and waste management operations, along with the current challenges, notably budgetary constraints, the local authority faces.
The visit was the third time a delegation from Jersey had travelled to the Isle of Man to examine the Douglas model of local government, which prompted Mr Crowcroft to observe:
‘What first struck me was how much the town centre had improved since we were here in 2013. The Council’s and Isle of Man Government’s investment in the regeneration of the town centre has transformed the main retail area and we will be watching the progress of the promenade redevelopment with great interest.’
The programme included a tour of Ballaughton Nursery, leading Mr Crowcroft to comment: ‘We learned a lot from the tour; about how the Parks Service is embracing energy-saving technology and adopting environmentally friendly practices, in particular how they produce compost from 100 per cent recycled green waste on site. We were also most impressed by the Council’s success in achieving eight Green Flag awards this year.’
Turning to wider municipal issues Mr Crowcroft said: ‘Jersey is looking at introducing some municipal reforms so it was interesting to learn of the Council’s resolution to reduce its membership from 18 to 12 in 2020. It has also been useful to find out more about the roles and functions of committees and the Council’s relationship with central government.’
In closing he said: ‘Visiting Douglas is always very productive and we shall definitely be drawing on our findings as we look to adopt an enhanced local government model for Jersey.’
Council Leader Councillor David Christian MBE JP said: ‘The opportunity to meet face to face and learn from one another through these study visits is extremely valuable. It has been interesting to discover just how much in common we have, especially in terms of localisation and how our respective governments are looking to devolve more services to local authorities which, in turn, challenges us to deliver more for less.
‘It has been reassuring to learn that Douglas is not alone in the challenges it faces in matters such as recycling and waste management, in particular how to change attitudes and perceptions. I was also pleased that the delegation was impressed by the Council’s success in introducing a byelaw to combat cigarette littering outside licenced premises.
‘In summary I would say that not only Councillors but also officers have found exchanging ideas and best practice with some of our opposite numbers in Jersey has been of great value and I am delighted that this latest visit has served to strengthen the ties between our two island nations.’
The delegation's visit to the town hall was hosted by His Worship the Mayor, pictured below with the representatives from Jersey, Councillors and officers.