Fun and games in Guernsey when Lyndon Trott, the Chief Minister, decided to personally intervene in the fireman's dispute which had already caused a day's chaos by closure of the Airport. This was an extraordinary intervention, over the heads of the Public Sector Remuneration Committee, and the outcome was announced by Deputy Trott to the media first, and the States second. There is a degree of polarization here: the Guernsey Press in its leader column criticised the PSRC for just dragging its heels, and hoping that they would solve the fireman's dispute by attrition. The public in general, and the business community, are pleased by the decisive action taken. The States, however, are not:
GUERNSEY'S States descended into chaos yesterday as deputies learned that a group of ministers had brokered a deal with airport firefighters behind the back of the Public Sector Remuneration Committee. All members of the pay negotiating body said they would resign. Emotions ran high as Chief Minister Lyndon Trott told the Assembly that the Emergency Powers Authority had backed a move that saw the Public Services Department come to an agreement with the fire service that would ensure cover at the airport for the next 12 months. It is understood that each firefighter will receive £4,000. Deputies yelled 'disgrace' as Deputy Trott confirmed the PSRC had been removed as negotiator for future discussions with the airport fire service. States members also reacted with anger when they learnt that the media was told of the new agreement before they were. (1)
This also led to a criticism of the Bailiff by Deputy Trott for "presiding badly", in not allowing him the opportunity to respond to criticism. It is unusual for a Bailiff to be in the position like that of the Speaker of the House of Commons, of having to actually, in one form or another, give the message "order, order", but that is very much what happened over in Guernsey.
The atmosphere in the Chamber turned ugly when Deputy Trott attempted to respond to criticism from Deputy Mary Lowe - who after the meeting led calls for a vote of no confidence in him - but was silenced by Bailiff Geoffrey Rowland. As Deputy Trott continued to try to speak, the Bailiff again interrupted him, stating that he was the one presiding over the meeting. A clearly agitated Deputy Trott slumped back in his chair uttering: 'Yes - presiding badly.' Mr. Rowland responded sharply: 'Chief Minister, I am not presiding badly. I am struggling to deal with a difficult situation. Now will you please be quiet.'(2)
The Guernsey Evening Star, reporting on the States, judged the controversy was largely blown up by the egos of the Deputies, and certainly viewing it from another Island, that seems to be very much the case. I remember when there was a crippling bus strike that threatened to escalate out of hand in Jersey, and the Public Services Committee of the day and the Unions were at loggerheads. In the absence of any charismatic leader - either Reg Jeune or Pierre Horsfall was President of Policy and Resources - it was the former Senator Dick Shenton who stepped in and brokered a deal. Here is the Guernsey Star comment on the Deputies in Guernsey:
WATCHING the States Assembly descend into chaos last night was the most vivid demonstration of the twisted values of deputies supposedly voted into office to help run the island. Instead of applauding last minute moves that opened the island's lifeline airport and prevented economic and reputational ruin, members complained that they had not been told of the developments. The final irony was the chairman of the States negotiating body protesting about interference by ministers 'in the delicate negotiations regarding the airport firefighters'. What was lost on the Public Sector Remuneration Committee and its supporters - but not islanders - is that its 'delicate negotiations' have taken two and a half years to achieve nothing other than to provoke the firefighters to walk out. The Guernsey Press had it confirmed by two shop stewards yesterday that, bar for the last-minute, temporary settlement agreed with Public Services as their employer, the airport would still be closed. 'There was no going back,' one said. Yet for the members who attacked Chief Minister Lyndon Trott in the Chamber last night, nothing was more important than their being sidelined in the affair. Islanders, especially those caught up in the airport dispute, will struggle to comprehend the logic of deputies' outrage. At a time when action was needed to get the planes flying, members are calling foul because someone had the audacity to take a decision. Business leaders, particularly in the financial services sector, were aghast that an industrial relations problem was allowed to escalate into a strike. It led one to question the value of being in Guernsey. That members of government are so unfocused on real priorities will appall them. Using the island's emergency powers to resolve the dispute was wholly appropriate because of the need to protect the island's economic interests... In other words, the economic survival of Guernsey is less important than the ego of deputies. Government last night hit rock bottom (3)
Moving to the recycling schemes, Guernsey may call a halt to recycling. Despite all the "green commitments" by Jersey politicians in their manifestos or on the hustings trail, I have yet to notice any proposition even calling for an Island Wide kerbside collection - even in principle - over here.
AN ISLAND-WIDE kerbside collection scheme for household recyclables is to be put on the back burner for now. However, a vote later today will decide whether the door to the initiative is closed for ever. Two attempts were made yesterday to get the Public Services Department to undertake some sort of action in its introduction, but both failed. Deputy David De Lisle's amendment, which wanted the department to implement arrangements for a scheme as soon as possible for dry recyclables, was defeated by 26 votes to 21. On the back of that defeat, deputy Public Services minister Scott Ogier, who had seconded Deputy De Lisle's amendment, placed a last-minute amendment backed by Deputy Barry Brehaut. However, his amendment, which would have directed the department to consult the douzaines about implementing a scheme before reporting back to the Assembly with its proposals, was also voted down. Now all that is left is to see whether Public Services is successful with its own recommendation, which is to stop pursuing household kerbside recycling collections in any form in favour of spending money on updating its present bring bank system and other measures such as additional promotion and education.
Education measures might need to go a long way, because there is still a degree of fly-tipping going on:
THE National Trust of Guernsey's head of estate management has branded fly-tipping on the Ron Short Walk as totally irresponsible. A settee is the latest in a line of items to have been dumped at the Talbot Valley site, which is enjoyed by many walkers. 'This is an ongoing problem and two weeks ago we had to have a load of rubbish bags removed from there,' said Martin Ozanne. 'It's totally irresponsible as you can take something like a settee to the recycling site and leave it there for nothing.' (5)
And another blow to recycling is the loss of a green waste recycling scheme. But it does raise the question: could garden centres (which after all have to deal with their own green waste) be persuaded in Jersey to taken on green waste recycling for domestic users, especially if they do not use the public green waste dumps but have their own, as this would spread the load? Perhaps a subsidy from the States might be just as cost effective as its own schemes, and would provide better geographical spread?
MARTEL'S Garden World is closing its doors for the last time this summer after more than 40 years in business. A spokesman for Martel's said it was regrettable and unfortunate that it had to close but it was due to many factors, including increasing costs and the inability to develop the site due to Environment Department regulations. 'With the closure of the garden centre this will also mean the end of the green waste recycling.' There will be a closing down sale, starting on Saturday, to sell off the stock.(6)
And finally, raw sewage is being sent out to sea, with only a small outfall pipe, as part of a planned upgrade. In this respect Guernsey has fallen far behind Jersey, however bad we may be with our sewage overspills, none are quite as bad as this:
RAW sewage is being discharged from the short outfall pipe, just yards from the shoreline, at Belle Greve Bay. And it will remain that way for the rest of the week, according to the project manager at Belle Greve pumping station. John Marley said the sewage had been discharged from the pipe near the Red Lion from 9 am yesterday, because of construction work currently being undertaken at the pumping station. 'We're planning to be back online by Saturday and we've made a good start on it,' said Mr. Marley. As part of the nearly 40-year-old main pumping station's refurbishment the main pipe had been switched off to allow engineers to fit a surge compression tower, which will extend the life of the pipe.. ..'It's all part of the main pumping station upgrade,' he said.(7)
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