Friday, 17 May 2013

Guernsey Watch

I've been glancing over the sea to our sister Island of Guernsey, to see what's been going on over there.

The current scandal in China is rat meat sold as lamb. However, mouse would appear to be on the table in two Indian restaurants in Guernsey. The Guernsey Press reports of the closure of two Indian restaurants "after a string of hygiene problems". Pictures taken of the contamination include shots of a dead mouse, droppings and congealed dirt and grease.

The Environmental Health Office said: "I've had other establishments in Guernsey where there have been health problems. However, in these instances the problems have been very acute. On this occasion we had a number of issues that were brought together to make very poor standards and a definite risk of contamination and risk to public health generally.  It was particularly bad."

Meanwhile, there's a pay freeze being mooted for manual workers. They want a full, independent tribunal to set their wages. A minority have even threatened strike action.

The States, for their part, want to impose a wage freeze, while being happy to accept a pay rise of their own, tied to the movement in average wages. Writing in the Guernsey Press, columnist Peter Roffey says "I warned it would come back to bite them when they rejected a proposal to freeze their own pay just when they needed to severely restrict all other public-sector pay deals." Sounds familiar?

On the 16th May, the chief ministers of Guernsey and Jersey will be held one of their regular meetings in Guernsey today. Regular readers of the voting record will have noted "Out of Island" alongside Senator Ian Gorst's name recently, and now we know why. Whether it is proper for a States member to be absent during sessions of the States is a moot point; I do wonder why inter-Island meetings could not be scheduled for days when the States does not meet.

There was a call by the Chief Ministers for even greater unity between the islands, but this did not set any timeframe to establish a Channel Islands confederation. It seems clear that Peter Harwood, in particular, wants to increase working together without signing up to a particular ideology of confederation. He said that the move would take time, and needed to involve the backing of the other islands of Guernsey's Bailiwick.

Taking time was certainly the life choice of Thomas who died recently in Guernsey, aged 130. Thomas was a female tortoise, evidently named before her sex was determined. 130 years ago takes us back to 1883, which means that she survived the 2nd Boer War, the Great War, and the Second World War. She narrowly missed being hit by a bomb during the Blitz. Sadly, it was not old age but the infected bite of a rat which led to her death.

Delays are also hitting the buses. According to some users, there is little or no punctuality: "Revised routes were launched on Sunday but users have complained about the lack of clear information and late arrivals." Frank Villeneuve-Smith, communication director for the CT Plus, said delays were the result of an "unlucky inconvenience" as the new revised bus schedule launched in the same week as heavy road works. Jersey's new timetable has yet to be launched. Watch this space!

The business section of the Guernsey Press revealed some rather nasty mobile charges creeping up: "Commerce and Employment yesterday announced its plans to introduce legislation so it can charge 5% on all revenues earned by mobile operators from the use of spectrum. This is including, but not limited to, second-generation (2G), third-generation (3G), fourth-generation (4G) and fixed wireless access services" 

It is almost a foregone conclusion that any charges would end up hitting the pockets of the end consumer. Quite how this is justified is unclear, and one rather sarcastic commentator noted that "In a follow up statement, C & E. have announced plans to introduce a Spectrum tax for the general public, based on the amount of daylight absorbed into homes and the amount of fresh air breathed in by Guernsey residents per annum!"

And on a lighter note: "Legoland buildings and traffic lights all over the place - that's Guernsey, says Neil Ross' Emile. And how long before Sark has armed response tractors and horse drawn carriages with bullet-proof plating?"

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