The States of Guernsey's Population Policy Group have completed their initial deliberations into the creation of a legal and administrative framework for a population management regime in Guernsey and their findings and proposals are contained in a Report published in the January 2012 Billet d'Etat.

One of the sections of the Report deals with the open market. The long awaited headline conclusion is that removal of, or major structural changes to, the open market are not proposed.

However some of the proposals are likely to cause consternation in some circles. A summary of the proposals follows:

1. An open market, with some changes, should be retained as part of the new population management regime. So far so good.

2. Further consultation should take place on whether children of open market residents, who were minors in the household of their parents when first residing here, should become qualified residents (and thus able to occupy local market dwellings) after 14 years continuous residence, which would coincide with proposals for local market minors. At present open market minors must live here for 20 years in any 30 year period before qualifying.

3. All residents of open market dwellings should be required to hold an Open Market Resident Certificate. This is to enable the States to monitor and manage effectively the size and make up of the island's population.

4. No requirement should be introduced for open market residents to demonstrate their ability to make a specific personal contribution to the island.

5. Criminal conviction checks will form part of the application process for anyone moving to Guernsey whether requiring a Permit or Certificate or intending to live on the open market.

6. A clear policy direction is set to limit the long term effects on the island's population of the present arrangements whereby unlimited numbers of unrelated adults can occupy dwellings inscribed on Part A of the Housing Register. It is also proposed that the Policy Council undertakes an information gathering and public consultation exercise to explore the consequences of various options relating to this issue including retention of the status quo. The Council should report back to the States with its proposals during the first half of 2013.

7. The same proposals as mentioned in paragraph 6 also apply to hotels inscribed on Part B of the Housing Register and nursing homes on Part C in relation to staff living and working there who do not, at present, require a housing licence. Also controls related to residency in Part D lodging houses will be revisited as part of the consultation process.

I would expect that most open market residents will have few complaints at the contents of the Report. Those most likely to be concerned are persons currently falling within the categories referred to in paragraphs 6 and 7.

Hopefully publication of the Report will lead to favourable media coverage regarding retention of the open market and thus boost activity in the market which, earlier this year, had virtually come to a standstill.

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