European shares were slightly higher at Friday’s open with the Pan European Stoxx 600 index up 0.2%. Frances CAC 40 climbed 0.3% and Germany’s DAX was up 0.2% while the London FTSE 100 was flat.
The U.S. stocks nudged higher in the early hours of the morning, ahead of a key inflation print. The DOW Jones Industrial Average futures added 14 points or 0.43% during trading on Thursday, the S&P 500 rose 0.57% and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 0.73%. The DOW and S&P 500 are on track for their best weekly performance since January.
Asian markets are mixed today with the Hang Seng rising 0.37% while the Hang Seng tech index also climbed 0.16%. The Shanghai Composite is up 0.65% and the Japan Nikkei 225 fell 0.36%.
Political party calls for an independent bullying investigation
An independent investigation into Broad Street bullying allegations should be carried out, Reform Jersey has said, as the fall-out from the resignation of government chief executive Suzanne Wylie continues. The party, in a statement, has suggested Chief Minister Kristina Moore failed to give any strong indication that she is taking the bullying allegations seriously and has criticised Deputy Chief Minister Kirsten Morel for telling the States Assembly that he was unaware of any future resignations when it has since transpired that he knew of Mrs Wylie’s intention to leave a week before. Deputy Moore has been facing criticism for her timeline of events – and moved to clarify comments made to the media, saying that her ‘public comment on this matter was unclear’.
The Chief Minister confirmed this week that she received Mrs Wylie’s letter of resignation on 14 March, despite having previously indicated that the formal written letter of resignation came on 22 March, when the news was announced publicly. And speculation has been mounting as to the reasons for Mrs Wylie’s departure, with allegations of a toxic culture of bullying within Broad Street. Reform Jersey say: ‘Just eight months into this government’s term of office, we have already seen the return of the dysfunctionality that the public had hoped we had left behind us. Last night’s ITV Channel report, featuring damning comments from a government whistleblower, raises serious questions which must be addressed. ‘While politicians are entitled to require high standards from civil servants, Reform Jersey believes this must never manifest itself into bullying. Ministers must work collaboratively and with courtesy towards public employees at all times.’
The party says that it finds it ‘hard to accept’ Deputy Moore’s claims, made during an interview with ITV, that she opposed bullying, adding that her assertion is ‘further undermined’ by the fact that Infrastructure Minister Tom Binet broke ranks last week to criticise the government.The statement continues: ‘We are also greatly concerned that Deputy Chief Minister Kirsten Morel misled the States Assembly on 21 March, when he said that he was not aware of any future resignations when it transpired he was aware of the impending resignation of the chief executive.
‘I leave with much regret’ – outgoing chief executive’s resignation letter published
The government’s outgoing chief executive has said it was ‘never my intention to leave after such a short period’, in a resignation letter from 14 March published yesterday by the government. In the letter addressed to Chief Minister Kristina Moore, Suzanne Wylie said it was with ‘much regret and genuine sadness’ that she would be leaving the Island’s civil service after being in post for just over a year. Mrs Wylie added: ‘There is much political debate on the role of the CEO and my departure will also open the opportunity to assess if it should be changed and to what degree. I appreciate that the search will need to start now for my replacement, and I assure you that I will do all I can to support a new CEO coming into post. ‘It was never my intention to leave after such a short period. However, my circumstances are now such that I intend to take up a role back in Northern Ireland,’ wrote Mrs Wylie. ‘This will mean I am closer to my family at this point in our lives.’ In her letter, Mrs Wylie said: ‘It has been an honour to serve as the government CEO for the last 14 months, and I am very grateful to all my colleagues and the wider Island networks who supported me in this challenging role and who are so devoted to improving the lives of Islanders and ensuring that Jersey can thrive. ‘They and the Island will always be close to my heart.‘ Over the period of my notice, I will continue to work just as hard as I have since I arrived in Jersey, over a year ago, ensuring that the public service continues to serve, improve and support Islanders, including those who have been so deeply affected by the most recent tragedies.’
Deputy Moore responded with an acceptance letter on 23 March – more than week after receiving Mrs Wylie’s resignation and a day after the government publicly announced the departure. The Chief Minister said she accepted the resignation with an ‘equal sense of regret and sadness’ and added that they had ‘already begun to work together to assess the role of CEO going forward’. Deputy Moore said she had seen ‘first hand’ Mrs Wylie’s ‘dedication to public service and service improvements’. ‘You have had a particularly challenging role and I am grateful for your leadership within the public service, particularly through the tragic events that the Island has experienced in recent months,’ she said. Responding to Mrs Wylie’s preference to leave sooner than the six-month notice period, Deputy Moore suggested a last day of service of 31 July, with the month of July used for ‘any urgent or handover items’ as the interim chief executive ‘settles in’.
Deputy wants all estate agents to be regulated
Estate agents could be regulated by December next year, if a proposition lodged by a backbencher is successful. The proposal from Deputy Max Andrews calls on the Economic Development Minister to establish statutory regulatory bodies and schemes for estate agents, and follows concerns highlighted by the Jersey Estate Agents Association in 2021 about the lack of regulation in the Island. Estate agents in Jersey are currently not required to hold any professional qualifications, belong to a professional body, or abide by a code of conduct.A review carried out by the Economic and International Affairs Scrutiny Panel found that only 40% of Jersey estate agents had voluntarily become members of a redress scheme dealing with disputes between clients and agencies, a figure low in comparison with other jurisdictions.
In the UK, it has been a mandatory requirement to join an approved consumer redress scheme since 2008. A survey of 65 estate agents also discovered that 86% believed regulation was ‘necessary’ But, Environment Minister Jonathan Renouf recently said there were no plans to introduce legislation. Deputy Renouf said that the existing Consumer Protection Law was sufficient to protect customers, and there was no need to introduce bespoke estate agent regulation because many estate agents in Jersey ‘already adopt good practice’. Deputy Andrews has now responded, saying there is ‘no empirical evidence’ to reinforce that statement. In his proposition, which calls for the changes by December 2024, he said: ‘I believe there is a need to ensure that estate agents are members of a statutory regulatory body and redress scheme. As it stands, estate agents can access the market with ease without undertaking professional qualifications when dealing with transactions that are the biggest investments some people will make in their lifetime.
‘There needs to be a more robust process in place to ensure estate agents are regulated to improve the experiences of those who utilise estate agent services.’ He added: ‘I am therefore asking the Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture [Deputy Kirsten Morel] to consult with stakeholders prior to implementing a statutory regulatory body and independent redress scheme which is to be introduced no later than December 2024.’ Local estate agents have recently renewed their calls for regulation, with many seeing Deputy Renouf’s decision as a step backward. Gill Hunt, propertymark regional executive and director at Christie’s Hunt Estates, added: ‘We’re confident that we want to keep pushing for regulation locally, because we feel it’s important. We want to raise standards, improve the situation, ensure agents are the absolute best that they can be.
Firms unlikely to be paid after Camerons collapse
Accounts shared with businesses owed money by collapsed building firm Camerons show that it is unlikely that any will get paid – despite the contractor having £5.7 million on its books. The company failed at the end of last month, citing spiralling material and labour costs, strains in the supply chain and problematic contracts, as well as the impact of the pandemic and Brexit. Forty-five Camerons employees were made redundant. Earlier this week, firms owed money by the contractor were invited to a meeting, where the joint liquidators of the company – who are tasked with winding Camerons down and paying what they can to creditors – were appointed. Creditors were also given details of the financial health of the company by directors of Camerons.
They show that Camerons has £7.635m of liabilities but only £163,000 available to pay secured creditors, which include staff, Social Security and the Tax Office, and no money to pay unsecured creditors, such as sub-contractors. Camerons’ ‘statement of affairs’ – prepared by the firm and seen by the JEP – shows that the company has £249,000 of ‘non-current assets’ such as plant, vehicles and land. Of that, £102,000 is ‘realisable’ – meaning it is believed it can be accessed by the liquidators to pay people owed. When it comes to ‘current assets’ – assets which are more liquid, such as cash – Camerons has £5.673m on its books. Of that, just £61,000 is estimated to be available to liquidators. In total, the amount available for secured creditors before the costs of winding up the company are taken into account is £163,000.
The ‘non-realisable’ parts of the £5.673m include a £2.250m loan from the contractor to Camerons’ parent company, Garenne Construction Group Ltd – none of which can be reclaimed, say Camerons – and contractual debts amounting to £3,280,000 of which only £50,000 is realisable. Preferred creditors include £35,000 owed to Camerons staff, £55,000 owed to Social Security and £93,000 owed in income tax. It means that preferential creditors already swallow up the £163,000 of available assets, still leaving them £21,000 out of pocket. However, there are a far higher number of ‘unsecured creditors’ – businesses and individuals further down the established hierarchy of who gets what when a company goes under.
Life expectancy in Jersey lower than 227 UK areas
Children growing up in Jersey can expect to live years less than their counterparts in the wealthiest parts of the UK, new research has revealed. Jersey’s average life expectancy of 83.7 years would sit 228th out of 650 when compared against individual UK parliamentary constituencies, which a local health professional said highlighted the Island’s social inequalities. While the Island average was ahead of the UK as a whole – which has a national average life expectancy of just over 80 years – occupational health practitioner Dr Chris Edmond said local-level comparison was more revealing. Life expectancy in the wealthiest UK constituencies, including in Hampstead, north London, is three years longer than in Jersey. The Island has a similar life expectancy to Scarborough and Whitby (83.5) and Tynemouth (83). And many parts of the south-west and south-east of England had higher life expectancies than Jersey. ‘When you compare it with the detail of the UK we are certainly not among the best. The figure is masking the Island’s inequalities,’
Dr Edmond said, adding that his own professional experience, seeing Islanders on behalf of employers, confirmed the relationship between factors like poor-quality accommodation, poor diet, lack of physical exercise and health problems. He added that the life expectancy information also failed to take account of the health issues of transient workers who did not remain in the Island long enough to be captured in such data. Dr Edmond, medical director at occupational health specialists Work Health Jersey, took the Jersey data and compared it with a UK analysis conducted by campaign group Health Equals. They looked at information from the Office of National Statistics to establish life expectancy for new babies across all 650 UK parliamentary constituencies. It revealed that being born in one of the wealthiest areas in the UK added 12 years to a person’s life, and revealed a north-south divide, with 15 of the 20 highest life expectancies being in London and the south-east, while 17 of the 20 lowest were in Scotland. The seven worst were all in Glasgow.
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Weather and strike action disrupt Easter holidays travel
Bad weather and industrial action are set to disrupt the plans of some of the tens of thousands of people travelling to and from Jersey over the next ten days. With schools breaking up today for the Easter holidays, both the Harbour and Airport will be extremely busy – with an estimated 50,000 passengers passing through the Airport between now and Easter Monday. And some of those with scheduled trips using British Airways’ route to London Heathrow have been forced to amend or cancel their plans as a result of strike action by Heathrow baggage handlers. A total of six flights on the route in each direction have been cancelled over the first nine days of April, including the afternoon services tomorrow and on Sunday, as well as the early-morning return trip on Monday. Lisa McMahon said the cost of her weekend break in London had been increased by £210 as a result of having to buy a new return flight with easyJet in order to be able to be back for work on Monday, while Pip Gambles said she had to pay for an extra hotel night in order to attend an Elton John concert in London that had been twice delayed as a result of the singer being injured in an accident and the Covid pandemic.
A BA statement said: ‘Following Heathrow’s requirement for us to reduce the number of passengers travelling during the period of its employees’ proposed strike action, we’ve regrettably had to make a small number of adjustments to our schedule. ‘We’ve apologised to customers whose travel plans have been affected and have offered them a range of options, including rebooking onto a new flight with us or another airline, or requesting a full refund.’ Meanwhile, strong winds of force six or seven – with gusts to force eight – have had a significant impact on ferry services, with Condor cancelling today’s services to Poole, Guernsey and St Malo, as well as the morning boat to St Malo tomorrow and tonight’s Commodore Clipper sailing to Portsmouth. Winds are forecast to ease on Saturday afternoon, with Condor adding extra sailings on the Portsmouth and St Malo routes on Sunday. Ports of Jersey is reminding departing air passengers to allow longer than usual for their journey through the Airport in the coming days as the Easter get-away begins. A spokesperson said more than 50,000 passengers were expected to travel in and out of the Airport between today and 10 April and that with a large number of flights, many departing within minutes of each other, passengers should leave plenty of time to check in their luggage and clear security.
Yours for £30K – the boat that has conquered the Atlantic five times
With 15,000 miles of racing on the clock, five careful previous owners and not a single capsize, this is no ordinary rowing boat – and it could be yours. Jersey duo Steve Hayes and Pete Wright, who completed a gruelling eight-week race across the Atlantic last month, are now selling their boat in a bid to swell the charity coffers set up for the challenge. The two men, racing as the DragonFish team, had shaken hands on a sale to a potential owner in the UK since finishing the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge and returning to Jersey, but the deal has since fallen through and the ‘for sale’ sign has been reattached. Originally named Sogno Atlantico, but more recently known as Lilly Mae, the boat was first used for an Atlantic crossing in 2013, and has made the trip on four more occasions since then.
Mr Wright said: ‘All the missions have been successful and she hasn’t capsized at any stage, which is a remarkable feat. This latest crossing proves her worth, as to even enter the race the vessel has to be structurally surveyed and pass the most rigorous safety standards in the ocean rowing industry.’ The guide price for the boat, including a custom trailer and race equipment installed for the latest crossing, is £30,000, although the owners are open to ‘sensible’ offers from someone with aspirations to tackle the Atlantic. In selling the boat, Mr Wright and Mr Hayes will be putting the proceeds towards their designated good causes: Macmillan Jersey and the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. After setting off from La Gomera in the Canary Islands on 12 December, the duo crossed the finish line in Antigua on 4 February in a total time of 54 days, 16 hours and 45 minutes, the 33rd crew to finish the race. A total of 43 boats started the challenge. One was forced to abandon its attempt, 40 have finished and two solo rowers remain at sea but are said to be approaching the finish line.
Jersey restaurant secures Michelin star status – again
Bohemia Restaurant has retained its Michelin star for the 19th consecutive year to maintain its status as the only such-rated restaurant in the Channel Islands. It is the third star for the restaurant – which is located within The Club Hotel & Spa – since head chef Callum Graham has been at the helm. His menus reflect his classic training, gleaned from Michelin-starred restaurants in London, Paris and Geneva, and incorporate modern European fare featuring local, seasonal ingredients available in Jersey and the Channel Islands.Mr Graham said: ‘I am absolutely delighted and honoured to be recognised by Michelin once again, alongside so many brilliant restaurants across Great Britain. ‘It’s fantastic to see our hard work being recognised and a true testament to the full team who strive to do their very best day in, day out. The entire Bohemia brigade is dedicated to delivering impeccable standards and memorable experiences for each and every guest.’Mr Graham attended the Michelin event to receive the award earlier this week. He said it was ‘a real privilege’ and ‘a fantastic experience to have the whole Michelin family together in one room celebrating such wonderful restaurants’. Lawrence Huggler, managing director of Huggler Group, which owns The Club Hotel & Spa, said: ‘It was very special for Callum to be at the Michelin event last night to collect our star for the 19th year in a row on behalf of the whole team that makes Bohemia the special restaurant it is.’