There are plenty of local issues that affect our daily lives in Jersey. But at a time of well-documented low voter turn out, is there much appetite for thinking about the bigger picture in Jersey, or for considering the Island’s long-term future?
It seems there is. And it’s been a delight to see this reflected in the response to our recent ‘My Jersey’ survey – one of the biggest public consultations held in Jersey.
Thousands of you took the time and trouble to answer our questions about what you think of Jersey now and what your hopes are for the future, and we have now released the results.
From my perspective, as someone who has sifted through all the responses, the more people the better as it lends more weight to the findings of the survey, which will be used to shape a long-term vision for the Island.
Creating a future shaped by choice
Why is a long-term vision important? Because success starts with the end in mind. Creating a longer term vision is about creating a future shaped by choice, not chance. It means looking at where Jersey is today and thinking about what we should aim for in the future. This sets strategic direction for successive governments to develop priorities and action plans to keep Jersey on course.
If an Island vision is to be meaningful and enduring, it needs substance. It should set out what we believe it is possible for our Island to achieve, not a desirable but unrealistic wish list. Before we can effectively plan for the future, we also need to acknowledge that the world we live in is changing and think about the big issues and challenges that we are likely to face over the next 20 years.
Like so many places around the world, we are facing increasing pressures from issues such as an ageing population, rapid technological change, economic uncertainty and climate change. We have to look at where we are now and then into the future, and decide how to deal with these pressures. The time to do that is now.
Capturing what people really feel about Jersey
Over 4,000 people completed the online survey, making more than 8,000 comments. Many more added their views through briefings, on the streets and at a series of events. There was a sense of capturing what people really feel about Jersey, and that was exactly what we needed in order to have the building blocks for a long-term vision.
It is important to stress that this vision will not be tied to the current Council of Ministers – lasting economic, social and environmental change doesn’t conveniently fit into election cycles; a Council can put new strategies, policies and services in place but it takes much longer to realise their true benefits.
The vision is intended to be in place for many years to come to guide future Councils and allow them to use it as a yardstick for how their policies and decisions are measuring up to what people in Jersey really want to see happening.
The picture you painted
What do the survey findings tell us? Overall Jersey, as it currently stands, is doing ok. The picture you painted for us was more positive than negative.
What you told us was that protecting the beauty of Jersey’s natural environment, our air and water quality, and community safety, were the most important things in your aspirations for the future. Health care and giving children the best start in life were also high on your list. Your biggest concern was being able to independently afford a decent standard of living.
In all the answers and comments and feedback we received, some of the words that rang out the loudest for your vision for Jersey were: Beautiful – affordable – sustainable – fair – support – opportunity – safe. They were reflected in your personal vision statements for the Island too. For example:
- “Fairer, happier, cheaper”
- “A safe, connected community with great opportunities for all Islanders to enjoy”
- “A place where my child can grow up safely and get the best home and education at an affordable price”
- “An Island which strives to act in a sustainable way with an equal balance between environment and economic growth”
These are just a handful of the 1,042 vision statements you came up with and which will help us to shape the proposed long-term vision into something you feel is your own.
There was plenty of feedback throughout the survey, which was divided into three sections of questions; ‘community’, ‘environment’ and ‘economy’, the first of which I will look at in more depth in my next blog, focusing in particular on the issue of affordable living.
In the meantime, if you want to take a look yourself, the results are available in full online at www.shapingourfuture.gov.je and in paper format, and the 8000-odd survey comments are available at our open data site www.opendata.gov.je.