Friday, 18 October 2013

Guernsey Watch

A look at a few news stories in our sister Island...
Crimewatch Guernsey
Guernsey Police were investigating a robbery which occurred at about 5:30am yon the morning of Tuesday 15th October at the Longstore Handy Stores, St Peter Port. Two young men entered the store. They had covered their faces. They are described as being tall and thin, wearing black clothing. No one was physically injured during the incident. Police in Guernsey have arrested two men in connection with an alleged armed robbery in St Peter Port. Breaking news is that Police in Guernsey have arrested two men in connection with that incident.
This is in fact the second incident of this sort this year. There was a robbery at 2.50pm on Tuesday 26th March 2013 at Union Street Stores, St Peter Port. During the incident, the proprietor of the shop was assaulted and a male stole the shop till and made off from the premises. The till was later intact found at Constitution Steps, as was some clothing worn by the offender. The suspect was described as being a white male, in his 20's, wearing the jacket pictured over a navy blue hoody, blue joggers and trainer. I've not been able to trace any reports of the arrest of the individual concerned.
One thinks of Guernsey and Jersey as safe compared to the UK, and in relative terms of violent crime they certainly are, but every now and again incidents like this remind us that robbery can occur anywhere.
Get your DABS all over this!
"The BBC's national digital radio services are being extended to Guernsey. It is part of a move to bring the Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) service to 2.5 million people in the British Isles before the end of 2015. Local radio services will not be available on the DAB transmitter but the existing FM and MW services will continue to operate. Previously it was thought the island would not get DAB before 2017." (BBC News)
Jersey has apparently had DAB radio from June 2011although I've been unaware of the fact, as I listen to local radio channels or radio 4 on my car radio, and that does not have DAB radio. Apparently you can get DAB radio fitted to a car if you want. In fact, I had little idea of the merits or otherwise of DAB. Apparently DAB reception quality degrades rapidly when the signal strength falls below a critical threshold, whereas FM reception quality degrades slowly with the decreasing signal. That probably means that the some of the more distant coastal regions or valleys may have more of a problem with the signal. As one commentator said: ". my new, expensive Roberts radio purchased from the JEC fails to even squeak in the digital mode".
According to the UK Free TV website looks at local DAB gaps:
BBC Guernsey: No plans to add digital services to 93.2 FM and 1116 AM.
BBC Jersey: No plans to add digital services to 88.8 FM and 1026 MW.
But Guernsey's independent radio station, Island FM, seems to show no problems with lack of DAB coverage, and is as popular as ever as it celebrates 21 years of broadcasting. It began in 1992.
It makes one wonder if the move towards DAB radio is driven not by popular demand but by commercial and ideological reasons.
In a debate by email, which has now been leaked, referering to group called the "Singers" seeking permission to perform on Herm, a Guernsey Deputy referred to local people as "inbreds"
From Elis Bebb: "I believe the inbreds are entitled to a vote these days."
This prompted a backlash from Barry Paint:
Barry Paint wrote:
Dear Deputy Bebb
"I'm fairly positive that you are well aware of the great offence you have caused to many local Deputies by your comments on the Deputies website, referring to local people as "inbreds". You have not been in the States for very long and it may be the sort of language you are used to using in your previous occupation but it is not what is expected from any member of the States whether they be local or, as you are a guest in this island, even in jest. The island as a rule welcomes people from all walks of life and from many different cultures and places around the world. The local people do not expect to be insulted by anyone fortunate enough to be able to live here. Should what you have stated be put in the public domain, there can be no doubt that there would be a very adverse reaction to the comment, by local people and from all the good people who come here to work, which you are one. I would respectfully ask you to give a full apology for your comment to all locals who are able to view this site immediately."
There were some comments on this saying that this was just part of the rough and tumble of politics, but Barry Paint was having none of it:
"I have to say that I'm surprised that some of you that have responded to my request for an apology has been received in the way it has. The use of the Deputies distribution web site for personal insults and inappropriate language must be close to, if not breach the code of conduct passed and agreed by the States as a whole. This site is a private site, as we all well know, but I have to point out, as you are all very well aware that some are only too pleased to leak information when it suits them."
This has, of course, been leaked to the Guernsey Press, although it is not clear by whom. And it has provoked a variety of online comments, ranging from those who Bebb's comments see it as something you might expect in a large company, and no more than "banter" and a humourous riposte, to those who wondered if this discussion was "from the States of Guernsey or the infant school council".
There's been news of the finding of a suspected depth charge that has been hidden in the Guernsey harbour mouth for 70 years. Let's hope Deputy Bebb's remarks don't turn out to be another hidden depth charge for him!
Breaking news on that story is that the Royal Navy Southern Diving Unit have dived on the find, and found that access is difficult. Until the find has been properly assessed by Royal Navy experts it is unknown if the find is an unexploded charge or shell.
Pension Pots
Unite have rejected the States final offer on pension reforms. Their regional officer said that "without a doubt' if the States refused to make any changes to the proposals, the island could expect to see a mass protest march, as seen in the UK when it made similar changes."
Deputy Allister Langlois will still be taking proposals to the States. The pension liability stood at £503m back in August this year, and changes could effect around 16,000 islanders. Reforms are looking at increasing contribution rates -proposed from 6.5% to 8%., a rise in the age of retirement to 65 from 60and reducing benefits.
I suspect that Jersey will be watching very closely to see what happens, and decide its own strategy later, probably - says the cynic in me -after the 2014 elections. It is also interesting to see how Guernsey will fare with attracting specialists. In comments on the Jersey situation, Sarah Ferguson said:
"Major changes in 1987 mean that pensions are not automatically inflation proof and that the actual amounts are lower. It is necessary to maintain parity with some UK schemes because we have to employ specialists from the UK. If our pension scheme is significantly different we will not attract people."
But final salary pension schemes are unaffordable in today's economic climate, and most private sector ones have long closed. My preferred suggestion is to retain it in the interim, but with a cap, so that the rock face worker on £20,000 or so receives a full sum, while Chief Officers have it capped to a certain fixed limit. Clearly a final salary pension on a low income is something needed to keep the wolf from the door, but cutting back on Chief Officers to a fixed limit would still leave them with far in excess of average pay.
On the Buses
There may be an industrial dispute between drivers and CT Plus in Guernsey. Bob Lanning, Unite representative was in the Island for talks after the driver's representatives rejected a 1% pay offer from CT Plus. He said: "1% is not viewed as acceptable. But I do not want to see a strike, I have told them  quite clearly to give the Guernsey system a chance."
Comments meanwhile highlight the fact that the public sector workers have had a pay freeze, and are envious of the drivers getting a 1% offer.
Man with a Suitcase
The Vale Power station saw a call for Guernsey bomb disposal experts after a black suitcase was found at the back of the building. According to CTV, the suitcase was apparently filled with "general rubbish". I have no idea what this means. What is "general" rubbish? 
Fortunately the Guernsey Press gave a few more details - "The contents of the suitcase turned out to be nothing more serious than a few blankets."
That would seem quite specific rubbish to me.

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