Client Weekly Update – 10 February

Market update

European markets are broadly lower today with shares in Germany off the most. The DAX is down 1.35% while France’s CAC 40 is off 1.02% and London’s FTSE 100 is lower by 0.61%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 249.13 points, or 0.73%, to close at 33,699.88 yesterday. The S&P 500 slid 0.9% to end at 4,081.50. The Nasdaq Composite saw the greatest dip of the three, dropping 1,02% to end the session at 11,789.58.

Asian markets finished mixed as of the most recent closing prices. The Nikkei 225 gained 0.31%, while the Hang Seng led the Shanghai Composite lower. They fell 1.99% and 0.30% respectively.

Further financial support announced to help Jersey students with rising costs

Student finance maintenance grants will increase in September to support those in higher education with the cost of living. Children’s and Education Minister Inna Gardiner is due to sign an amendment to the Education (Grants and Allowances) (Jersey) Order 2018 later in the spring to enact the increase.

It is not the first time Deputy Gardiner has announced a rise in maintenance grants since taking office.

Last September, all students received a 2.9% increase – while in December, all students studying off-Island and independent students studying on-Island also received a 7.2% rise. The latest increase – 3.8% – means that some students will receive £1,072 more than they would have done in September 2021.

The latter rise came in the wake of a JEP article that highlighted the struggles faced by parents and university students, who called on the government for extra financial support to tackle the rising cost of living, energy bills and expensive flights to and from the UK.

The cost of living in Jersey rose by 12.7% last year – the biggest increase in inflation since the early 1980s. Deputy Gardiner said:

“Student Finance is – for many students – the additional support that enables them to study for a degree, especially those who are studying off-Island. I want to make sure that the maintenance grant rises in line with the cost of living, especially for students who are studying independently.”

She added: “I will also continue to work with officers to look at the system as a whole, and consider how we can provide the most fair, targeted support going forwards. Any changes will be designed to offer the same level – or more – financial support. Changes will also be automatically applied to the grant calculation, so I would urge Islanders to apply for Student Finance as soon as they can.”

All students who receive Student Finance maintenance grants will be eligible, including those who study off-Island as well as independent and dependent students studying on-Island.

Once an application is received, the increase will automatically be included when grants are calculated ahead of the new academic year – meaning students do not need to delay their application to receive the extra payment. Applications for Student Finance for 2023 opened on 1 January.

Fort Regent plans shelved – so what now for sport in Jersey?

Questions over the future of the Island’s sporting infrastructure have been raised – as the government has shelved ‘unfeasible’ plans for Fort Regent.

Infrastructure Minister Tom Binet revealed that the Future Place Ministerial Group were reassessing what could be delivered in this term of office, saying that the latest redevelopment scheme for the sports facility – unveiled in 2021 by the previous government – was no longer affordable.

The plans, which were to take shape over the course of a ten-year redevelopment, featured proposals for a multi-purpose venue for conferences, sporting events and concerts, alongside a hotel, cinema, ten-pin-bowling alley and casino.

And Steve Pallett, who previously held political responsibility for sport, said that he feared that sport would be ‘pushed to the back of the queue’ for funding, despite a number of Island facilities being in desperate need of investment.

He said: “I can understand why the Infrastructure Minister has said what he said but we do have to ask ourselves: do we want a Fort building that we can be proud of or do we let it get to such a dilapidated state that we close the doors for good? I fear for what will happen with the Active Place strategy. That set a clear vision as to how we can revamp our sports facilities over a ten-year period.”

“There is no money in the Government Plan and my fear is there is going to be a four-year absence of any clear commitment to improving sports facilities.”

The prospect of Jersey hosting major sporting events was thrown into doubt when the Super League Triathlon was removed from the calendar after government funding was withdrawn.

And earlier this week, Jon Marley, director for the 2023 NatWest Island Games, due to be held in Guernsey, claimed that the Channel Islands would struggle to host the event in the future because of the cost and lack of accommodation.

Those claims were disputed by senior Island politicians. However, Mr Pallett warned that Jersey was reaching a point where it might not have the infrastructure to host major events. ‘I am sure that the Chief Minister would jump at the chance of having the Island Games here because we all saw the way it lifted morale in 2015.

“We are getting to the point where, if we are not very careful, then we won’t be able to host it because that infrastructure is starting to break down.”

Mr Pallett said that the sports centre at Les Quennevais was reaching the end of its lifespan and would soon need replacing, while a planned development at Le Rocquier had been axed.Referring to the Fort, he added:

“We have had a lot of plans and nothing has happened. My fear is we are going to get to the end of this four-year term and nothing will have happened again.’”

Deputy Binet, in response to a written States question from Deputy Mary Le Hegarat, described the plans ‘developed under the previous government’ as ‘unfeasible in the current economic climate’.

He added: “The Future Places Ministerial Group are reassessing what is feasible and are committed to developing an affordable and deliverable proposal for the future of Fort Regent, and to securing an appropriate mandate from the States Assembly.”

He also revealed that the number of government services, sports clubs and enterprises operating out of the Fort had reduced from 39 in 2019 to 21 by the start of this year. He added that this was expected to reduce to five in 2024.

“The predicted figures are linked to the planned opening of facilities at Springfield Sport Centre in 2023 and Oakfield Sport Centre in 2024,” Deputy Binet added.

Ferry operator warns it could stop sailing between Jersey and France

The Manche Iles Express could stop sailing between Jersey and France next year. Jean Morin, who is president of the Manche département, told French media this week that unless post-Brexit border controls in Jersey were changed to make it easier for passengers without passports to travel, local authorities would stop funding the shipping company which runs the service.

“If the passport requirement is not lifted by then, we will have no choice but not to renew the service contract for 2024-2025,” Mr Morin told Ouest France. About half of France’s citizens hold a passport, with many owning a carte d’identité or CNI only, which is a government-issued form of identity.

The CNI can be used for travel within the EU, and used to be accepted when entering the UK Common Travel Area. Holding a valid passport became a requirement from 1 October 2021.

Mr Morin said he hoped for flexibility in the arrangement – at least to allow day-trippers holding just a CNI to visit the Channel Islands. External Relations Minister Philip Ozouf previously said he was working hard to find a solution.

Asked how soon the use of ID cards could be reinstated, he told the JEP in December that ‘significant progress’ had been made.

“If this decision can be finalised and put over the line, it will have a very significant impact on next year’s tourist season,” he said at the time, adding: “There is still some dotting of i’s and crossing of t’s to be done.’

This season’s Manche Iles Express sailings are due to begin on Saturday 22 April and conclude at the end of September.

In a statement, Home Affairs Minister Helen Miles said: “Securing a mechanism whereby French nationals can travel to Jersey using identity cards is a key priority of mine. Jersey Customs and Immigration officials have been considering the relevant operational, legal, policy, and economic issues – all of which must be considered when making changes to existing policy for the Common Travel Area. We will continue to co-operate closely with our colleagues in the UK as we work towards this objective.”

Jersey rowers reach finish line after 3,000 mile trans-Atlantic journey

Jersey duo Steve Hayes and Peter Wright have successfully completed a 3,000-mile ocean race described as ‘the world’s toughest row’. At 3.57am Jersey time today, [sun] the pair crossed the finish line in Antigua having completed the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in 54 days 16 hours and 45 minutes.

The duo on board their boat DragonFish, who started the race from the Canary Islands on 12 December, withstood a series of challenges during almost eight weeks at sea.

Extreme weather and problems with their navigation equipment, steering system and water maker kept both men fully occupied, but they were able to come through and finish at the Antiguan port of English Harbour three minutes before midnight (local time).

Mr Hayes, general manager at the Somerville Hotel and Mr Wright, finance director at Prosperity 24/7, have been raising money for the the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and cancer charity Macmillan Jersey.

The duo were met by family members including Mr Hayes’ wife Corina and the couple’s two-year-old daughter Sofia, along with Mr Wright’s father Jack, while they were also cheered on from afar by a large Jersey contingent tuned in to a live-stream broadcast.

Those watching from Jersey included Mr Wright’s wife Rachel and children Josh and Leila, and Mr Hayes’ older children Evan and Isla.

Tears of joy as Jersey’s new skate park opens at Les Quennevais

Former sports minister Hugh Raymond was brought to tears as the long-awaited Les Quennevais skate park finally opened.

Hundreds attended the official opening on Saturday afternoon, where the current minister with responsibility for sport, Deputy Lucy Stephenson, formally welcomed Islanders to the £1.9 million facility alongside representatives from the Jersey Skateparks Association.

Deputy Stephenson thanked several teams and individuals, including her ministerial predecessors Hugh Raymond and Steve Pallett – who were both in attendance. She said that the new park was ‘hopefully just the start of investment in our urban sport facilities’.

Deputy Stephenson added: ‘It is a culmination of effort by a great many people and groups. There have been some delays, but this project is an excellent example of community and government working together to deliver something incredible for Islanders and visitors alike.”

“It is also an important reminder that sport and physical activity comes in many forms, and this skate park is purposefully designed to cater for a variety of urban sports – as well as different ages and abilities. I have no doubt that there will be a further surge in interest in urban sport as a result.”

She said: “There is funding allocated in the Government Plan for 2023 for feasibility work on a St Helier park, and proposals are progressing for a pilot scheme in the Millennium Town Park to trial the installation of skate-friendly street furniture.”

The new Les Quennevais facility is the result of years of campaigning, consultations and meetings, which at one stage saw a celebrity of the sport – ten-time X Games winner Tony Hawk – urge Islanders to ‘keep up the fight’ in their crusade for skateparks.

Much of the political debate took place under the previous government, when Mr Raymond and Mr Pallett were still in office. Mr Raymond said: “To be perfectly frank, it’s brought tears to my face – it’s just great to see so many people here. It would be silly not to say we’ve had our ups and downs, but my god we’ve achieved it and it’s good for the kids. We [need to] make sure we look after it and it’s well used – I’m sure it will be – but the way it’s been set out is fantastic. It’s been a long, hard haul with delays at times but we got there in the end.”

Mr Pallett said people had to realise that ‘any project in the States takes time’, but added that the new facility was a ‘superb finish’. “I have got to thank the people that followed me, Hugh and Lucy for keeping the ball rolling – there were some delays but they kept the pressure on politically.”

He also thanked the government Sports Division and operations director Barclay Harvey, who he described as ‘a key member all the way through’.

Jersey crowned sunniest place in British Isles (again)

Jersey retained the title of the sunniest place in the British Isles in 2022, with 10% more sunshine than the nearest rival, new figures have confirmed. Data from the UK Met Office showed that Preston in Dorset was the sunniest place in the UK for the second year running, with a total of 2,204 hours of sun across the year – well behind the Jersey total of 2,420, which was the highest figure since records began in 1925.

Claire Lyons, interim chief executive of Visit Jersey, said: “We’re delighted for Jersey to be confirmed as the sunniest spot in the British Isles for the fifth year in a row. At Visit Jersey our campaigns celebrate all of the reasons to love Jersey year-round, but locals and visitors alike will agree that nothing tops a sunny day in Jersey, surrounded by the shimmering sea.”

“Visit Jersey is working closely with industry partners and local businesses to continue growing the Island’s visitor economy, and we look forward to welcoming tourists to our sunny shores this year.”

The podium places for the British Isles in 2022 were the same as the previous year, with Guernsey ranked third with a total of 2,117 hours of sunshine. As well as being the sunniest year on record, 2022 was also the hottest, with an average temperature of 13.56°C, beating the previous record of 13.34°C in 2014 and more than a degree above the average for the past 30 years of 12.39°C.

Jersey Met released figures yesterday showing how the Island had fared during January, a month that saw 44% more rain than the average for the past 30 years. A total of 137.4mm of rainfall was recorded, including 47mm during a period of less than 24 hours on 16 and 17 January, causing severe flooding in Grands Vaux and several other areas.

The total exceeded the monthly average of 95.2mm, but was short of the record 190.9mm registered in 2016. January was the third successive month of above-average rainfall. The month was a little duller than usual, with 67.9 hours’ sunshine compared to the average figure of 74, and milder – with an average temperature 0.8°C above the average for the month of 7°C.

Islanders get extra bank holiday for Coronation

Islanders have been granted an additional bank holiday in May to celebrate the Coronation of King Charles III.

The States Assembly agreed that Monday 8 May will be marked as an official public holiday to commemorate the Coronation, which is due to take place two days earlier.

The move means that Islanders will have an extended four-day weekend, as Liberation Day will follow on Tuesday 9 May. The proposition to grant the bank holiday was adopted by the Assembly via a standing vote.