Every so often I like to glance across the waters at our sister island of Guernsey, to see what is going on over there.
Rather like Rob Duhamel's statement that Planning in Jersey is reviewing the use of old greenhouse sites for housing needs. These are just sitting there, derelict, and Guernsey's Environment department are rethinking what might be done with them.
"VINERY owners are keen to see redundant sites put to good use and not just become 'wasted land'. Those spoken to yesterday welcomed Environment's potential change of heart on derelict greenhouses as part of its new planning consultation. The department is looking to create a new development footprint that could see some redundant vineries used for small-scale businesses."
"The owner of the Rocque Poisson vinery along Les Marais in St Peter's said he bought the site on the proviso he could build on it, but was later refused permission. The man, who did not want to be named, has owned the site for the past 40 years. 'There are a lot of houses that could be put on vinery sites - they are just wasted land,' he said."
On environmental and business matters, Guernsey seems to be stealing a march over Jersey with regard to investments into renewable energy sources:
"A NEW Guernsey fund is being hailed as a first in the UK. Bluefield Solar Income Fund, a closed-ended fund listed on the premium segment of the London Stock Exchange earlier this month, will focus on investing in large-scale agricultural and industrial photovoltaic solar assets."
However, renewable energy is not in place on the roof of the German Occupation Museum, where a project to install solar panels has been delayed because the company contracted to do it has gone into liquidation. There's a gap been a renewable energy fund, and companies that actually supply the machinery for renewable energy.
In terms of more general finance, Andrew McLaughlin, group chief economist for RBS Group, has been painting a rosier picture of Guernsey weathering the economic recession than the UK or Jersey:
"'In Guernsey, people should take confidence from how well the island coped during the mother of all financial crises. When the crisis hit, the mainland economy of the UK lost 7% of its national income, Jersey lost 4%. Guernsey went in later, was hit less hard and is coming out of it in line with the UK. That is not a bad picture."
However those commenting on the story take a more jaundiced look
"There is little future for the Guernsey Financial Industry if the island government doesn't turn fine words into action and make the necessary and overdue broadband investments that are required."
They may be right. The Education Department says that children's leaning is suffering because of the high cost of broadband in the island:
"In response to the regulator's consultation on a review of internet costs for business, the department has launched a scathing attack on the service it receives. Because of the cost it was unable to buy sufficient bandwidth to meet demand, causing poor user experience, said the department. Teachers used the internet with 'some trepidation' as the poor user experience caused discontent and disruption in the classroom and to teaching and learning. It said the cost of broadband in Guernsey was more than four times higher than in the UK and almost double what Jersey's Education Department was paying."
And the supplier of broadband services over there - broadband service is provided by JT as part of its contract with the States. It seems strange that one telecoms company is charging double in Guernsey. What is the difference between Guernsey and Jersey which causes that kind of difference?
There's a wonderfully vitriolic comment after this story:
"We are all paying to much for broadband, what I don't understand is why this rip-off company needs to be told by the regulator that we are paying to much for a truly abysmal service, constant variation in speed and outages. The other thing with all these services is the term up to 8 Meg; you would not go to the pub if you were told £3 for up to a pint but if the demand is too much you may only get a dribble in the bottom of the glass."
It is worth noting that the much noted Fibre initiative in Jersey will mean that people can download faster, but unlike the UK, there will be very restrictive download caps in place, so don't imagine you can use Netflix or a similar service. One film and you will probably have used up your internet quota for the week, and more comes at premium prices.
And to end on a story about police rapid response:
"A BOUNDARY dispute between two St Martin's neighbours led to one of them being arrested by armed police while he was in bed. Donald Hamilton, 62, who lives in Route des Cornus, said officers 'armed with machine guns, Tasers and side-arms' turned up at his house and accused him of brandishing a 'long-barrelled firearm'. He was locked in a cell for two hours before being released with a letter of caution which does not mention a firearm."
In fact it was what is called a BB gun, which deploys gas to fire pellets, what is called an "airsoft gun", which can still inflict discomfort, but not danger unless hit in the eye. Nonetheless, the site on BB guns does warn the users: "If someone is hurt by a pellet hitting them, it is an assault. Depending on the injury it will be dealt with as Common Assault, Actual Bodily Harm, or in the case of a 15 year old girl shot in the eye, Grievous Bodily Harm". But in fact, there is no report of him actually aiming the gun at the neighbour at all:
"Mr Hamilton, who has lived in the road for about 20 years, said that there had been an ongoing dispute over the boundary, including with previous owners. He said he was sitting at his garden table with a gas gun, but was not aiming it at his neighbour's property or her, when she came home. 'I asked her if she wanted me to show her where the boundary was but she just walked in."
Mt Hamilton explained in more detail what was happening:
"There was no heated discussion. I was sitting with my back to her property. She had no reason to be afraid she has seen me using the guns in my garden on numerous occasions with no problems. She is currently trying to get three feet of my land to erect a fence on. Ulterior motive would you say? From the time I sat at the garden table with my air rifle and my bb gun, my air rifle was empty, I shot 6 bb, s into my target board. I was there no longer than 6 minutes and went inside, what was she doing staring at me in my garden."
'Next thing I am getting out of bed because the police turn up, cars and vans, they had machine guns, Tasers and side-arms. It was the full Monty.'
Well, it may have been the full Monty. It rather depends on whether he wears pyjamas in bed, or prefers to sleep "au naturele"!
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