Wednesday, 29 February 2012


The start of the run up to elections in Guernsey is beginning, with elections little more than a month away on 18 April and the Guernsey Press is looking to put together a Q&A supplement regarding the candidates:

TODAY is your chance to help shape the island's future by setting the agenda for the forthcoming general election of people's deputies. Instead of candidates simply setting out their views, we want to give electors the opportunity of getting answers on the issues that matter to them. We will be canvassing islanders and other lobby groups on the topics that they think are important and producing a list of questions for candidates to answer.

As well as publishing all the manifestos from would-be deputies, we will also produce a special supplement setting out their answers to the questions you have posed. Where a candidate won't or hasn't responded, we'll make that clear, too. (1)

Guernsey, of course, changed their "general election" day to April from October, meaning warmer, brighter weather, which is much more conducive to getting people out to vote. Jersey has pledged to do this by the next election. Let's hope it's not like the promise of a "Millennium Park", opened not in 2000, but in 2011, and still incomplete. That could almost be a parable of how Jersey politics manages reform.

And looking at figures, in Guernsey, only around 60% of those who can vote have signed up. It will be interesting to compare the take-up with Jersey. Tomorrow is the last day to sign up.

Latest figures show 28,220 people have so far signed up to vote in the general election of deputies on 18 April. There are believed to be between 47,000 and 48,000 people of voting age in the island.(3)

There doesn't seem to have been much of a protest visible from Green campaigners in Jersey, but in Guernsey they view the joint Island phone book as something of a waste of paper. Expect a flurry of letters and emails and blog postings from "Green Man" Nick Palmer in Jersey when he sees this, and realises that Guernsey have stolen a march on him.

THE new Channel Islands JT phonebook will just be a waste of paper, green campaigners have said. Keen recycler Rosie Dorey said the new phonebook was ridiculous and would create unnecessary waste. Public Services deputy minister Scott Ogier, who was largely responsible for driving through the new waste strategy, suggested phonebooks for each island should be made available only on request. However, JT has defended its decision and said it took on board customer feedback when considering this directory initiative. (2)

It's not clear, of course, from this what the "customer feedback" constituted. JT have not released any details of statistical sampling to show how this stacks up; probably any survey is just one of those self-selecting polls which requires people to respond if they are interesting.

But why on earth all the extra paper needed for Guernsey numbers if you live in Jersey or vice versa is needed is certainly questionable, especially as it should be quite possible to provide an online version of the directory, for far less waste of paper. It seems like a promotional puff by Jersey Telecoms, and perhaps the "feedback" came about after a liquid lunch; it certainly has the air of spin - and the idea could just about fit on the back of a beer mat!

Considering waste, Guernsey is now looking to export rubbish to Jersey's incinerator, and at present does not expect the ash to come back to Guernsey, although no detailed negotiations have taken place. Presumably, it would have to be shipped on elsewhere for dumping:

DISPOSAL of hazardous ash will form part of the negotiations for handling Guernsey's waste, a spokesman for Public Services has said. The States has backed the department's proposal to export what rubbish is left after high levels of recycling. But Jersey, one of the potential locations, has raised the prospect of ash left after it has been burnt in its incinerator being sent back to Guernsey and also the need to export the hazardous ash created from Jersey.(4)

Waste also forms part of the Public services strategy, where legislation may be brought in with the possibility of penalties for those who don't comply. Incentives are available, but as well as encouraging good habits, a "carrot and stick" approach may be needed:

Public Services details the steps necessary to ensure Guernsey reaches its 70% recycling target in its waste strategy report, which was approved by the States this week. In it, however, the department says it is also preparing to create incentive schemes to encourage green habits. After the States finally committed on Wednesday to the export of waste, Public Services will now press on with plans for kerbside collection - first of dry recyclables and then food waste - and report back to the States by December next year with proposals for any penalties needed for those who do not comply with waste prevention and minimisation measures.(5)

Major changes are also taking place in how Parish Churches and Rectories are managed. The Parishes will take over ownership of the Parish Churches and Rectories, rather than just supporting their maintenance. This may have a more significant impact where Rectories are involved, as the Parishioners may decide that they don't want to fund a residence for an Anglican priest, and the burden of that may fall on the Diocese.

On the other hand, the ancient Parish Churches are part of the historical legacy of all Islanders, whether of any religious persuasion or none, and it makes sense to regard them as a heritage site, albeit (and as it should be) as a living one rather than a museum piece:

RATEPAYERS will have more say in parish churches and rectories after reforms were passed by the States this morning. The Parochial and Ecclesiastical Rates Review Committee's proposals went through with only small signs of dissent. But the work will not end - while the new law is being drawn up further talks will take place with the Deanery to overcome its concerns that led it to state it could petition the Queen over the changes.

It could be years before the new legislation is back before the Assembly, but when that is approved the ownership of the churches, rectories and glebe land will effectively rest with the parishes. A meeting of the ratepayers could decide to sell the rectory and use the money for non-religious purposes. New boards will be created with representatives from the douzaines and church to manage the property and its care and maintenance. (6)

Chief Minister Lyndon Trott failed to delay the debate by one vote, warning of a "constitutional crisis" and the Dean reserved the option of petitioning the Queen should the proposals go through unamended. I know there has been a continual debate in the Guernsey Press about why non-Anglicans should support the maintenance and costs of Rectories and Churches, but what I don't know, which may well effect matters, is whether Guernsey Parish Churches have the strong connection with the Civil Functions of the Parish.

In Jersey, for instance, the Rector sits on the roads committee and goes out with them to check the branchage. Perhaps a looser connection has led to a more critical scrutiny of the funding involved, especially in these times of austerity. But sooner or later someone - probably Reg Le Sueur of the Church of Latter Day Atheists - will write to the JEP about this.

Meanwhile, the Vale Church's morning Eucharist service included special prayers to help politicians make the right decision about the Parochial Ecclesiastical Rate Review Committee report. It is not known whether the vote in favour of changes has been seen by the Rector and congregation as the will of God.

Is the day of beauty queens drawing to a close? While Jersey still has a "Miss Jersey Battle of Flowers", there are fewer contestants prepared to display, and some might argue, demean themselves, by parading as Parish Contestants. In Guernsey, however, the competition last took place for "Miss Guernsey" in 2010, and there has not been one since, with no plans for 2012. Miss Alderney 2012 is taking place, but then on such a small and remote Island, the locals probably will go for anything to break the monotony:

Hairdresser Lisa Knott won the title in 2010. Since then, however, the renowned competition has not taken place and there is no confirmation that it will this year. 'I have not heard of anything about another competition. No one has got in touch with me so I really don't know what is happening,' the 22-year-old said. 'But I am quite happy to hold the title until there is another one.' Despite the uncertainty surrounding Miss Guernsey, the search for Miss Alderney 2012 is on.(7)

And there you have it, plenty of interesting stories taking place across the water in our sister Island!


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