15th October 2008

Jersey rejects proposed timezone change

Residents were asked to vote on a proposal to switch to Central European Time (CET), one hour ahead of UK time, reflecting the fact that, as the BBC explained, Jersey “is much closer to France than it is to Britain. Normandy is 14 miles (23km) away, Dorset 100 miles (161km)”.

The proposal came from Senator Jimmy Perchard, but 70% of Jersey’s finance-focused businesses were said to be against any change, putting them largely in line with public opinion. Announcing the outcome of the vote in the States Assembly on 8 December, the Bailiff explaind, “I have to announce first of all before we move to Public Business that the result of the Referendum on Central European Time which Members may have almost forgotten about, was that of the electors registered to vote, 23,969 votes were cast. There were 23,794 valid votes, and 6,564 electors voted in favour of the question and 17,230 electors voted against.” Thus, 72.4% of those who expressed an opinion were in favour of leaving things as they were. A further 544 voting papers were left blank.

A split island

Looking back on the referendum on 1 May 2015, the Jersey Evening Post noted that opinions varied across the island, and “it seemed that the closer you got to two of the Island’s largest beaches, the more people were in favour of later barbecues and surfing sessions, with the two most western parishes, St Brelade and St Ouen, showing a 60/40 split”.

As the vote was a referendum, however, it was advisory, rather than binding. The States itself would have the final say and would only decide after commissioning a thorough report on the implications.

In advance of the vote, Senator Perchard had lodged his own report with the Greffe in which he wrote, “I am aware that this subject was recently debated by the States of Guernsey, where I understand a great deal of support was expressed for the principle of moving to CET, confirmed by their agreement to prepare a report and consult the Guernsey public, Jersey and other Channel Island authorities. Concerns were expressed in the Guernsey debate about Guernsey “going it alone”. I would expect we in Jersey to have similar concerns, therefore I would hope that any move in-line with the CET zone would be a joint Channel Island initiative.”

This was not the first time Jersey residents had been asked to decide whether the island should adopt European time. The BBC reported that a similar vote had been called in 1947, not long after the occupation, during which the clocks had been moved ahead to keep Berlin time.


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