Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Guernsey Watch

Guernsey Watch

A Hot Topic

The States have voted against restricting bonfires. This means that islanders will be allowed to burn dry garden waste on their property at any time they like, after the States decided to avoid what was described as over-regulating bonfires.

Recently the air pollution section of the Environmental Pollution law, which includes the introduction of air quality standards and prohibiting the emission of dark and black smoke, was approved by the States. But following from that there was a debate on whether domestic bonfires could take place which took up most of a day.

The original report suggested that bonfires could take place only on Monday to Friday. Deputy Lester Queripel laid two amendments – to restrict bonfires to 7am to 7pm on Mondays and Fridays or on the same hours Monday to Friday – to help protect the health of people with respiratory problems.

But as Guernsey Press reported, the States were having none of that:

“The vote on restricting bonfires to Monday and Fridays was defeated by 33 votes to two. The Monday to Friday restriction was also defeated 27 votes to eight. Deputy Graham’s amendment to allow bonfires on any day was passed 20 votes to 15.”

One commentator thought the States could have spent their time more profitably:

“I listened to most of the debate and think that the current batch of deputies is even worse than the last lot. Surely they can see that, yes bonfires are unpleasant and an outdated means of disposing of garden waste, but you would think it was the most important issue in Guernsey. A bunch of primary school kids could have done better. It went on and on, repetitively, for hours, and very few actually added any value to the debate.”

But Tony Webber thought it sent out the wrong messages:

“Somehow this issue was not thought through in terms of safeguards. Unfortunately the perception is going to be that people can get away with burning matter which they s should not be burning and this is dangerous to peoples' health. There is going to be more burning because of the high costs of disposing of waste. There has to be a crack down on burning of toxic and other environmentally unfriendly matter otherwise unhealthy practices will worsen.”

Trevor Hockey noted the legal position:

“Quite simple, you can burn dry garden waste, you cannot burn commercial waste, plastic etc. Put some cardboard and scrap dry wood under it to really get it going, don't leave it unattended and be considerate of your neighbours. Job done and less than 60 seconds speech.”

While the time spent was probably excessive, it is small issues which really do matter to people. I had a “bad neighbour”, a little old lady who it seemed resented us. Whenever she lit a bonfire, she would ensure the wind blew in our direction; she never did it when it blew in any other direction. We were on the edge of the housing estate, so there would be fewer complaints.

In winter it is an annoyance as clothes on a line, if it is a dry day, need washing again. In summer, when the temperature goes up, and you want to keep windows open to cool the house, it is like having smoke damage. You could not leave windows open upstairs when going out because that would be the occasion in which you would come back to smoke filled bedrooms.

Another correspondent has obviously suffered like that:

“Thank you to Lester for trying to restrict bonfires, so that people at least knew when best to keep windows closed without fear of a house full of smoke. When my children were smaller, the number of times neighbours burnt late of an evening in the summer, with the children asleep at the back of the house, Windows open, cooling the room. My husband and I sat at the front of the house, oblivious to our children's bedrooms being filled with smoke until we heard them crying, but our neighbours had a right to burn and they only burnt of an evening!”

“The other neighbours only burnt of a day, summer when we were at the beach and would come back to a stinking house and washing or early autumn when the children wanted to play in the garden and get some fresh air after being stuck in a classroom all day, but don't be silly , 4pm let's light a bonfire!”

As did another:

“This is all interesting but burning fires at anytime is not good, I unfortunately, have a neighbour who is obsessed with bonfires, so much when my windows are open and the wind blows my way my fire alarms are activated, apart from that I am fed up re-doing my laundry, hung out on a nice day to have it smelling of whatever he is burning. Have bonfires for rubbish in the evening when it is not so annoying, at least have the courtesy to inform the neighbours.”

Brexit Blues

As Guernsey Press reports, Guernsey resident Jon Moulton, pictured, admits he has shifted his position slightly, although he is still broadly in support of the UK’s Brexit.

“I thought I knew all about it before the vote but I was wrong. It’s actually far more complicated than I ever imagined. I am still in favour of moving out of Europe, but not as convinced as I was, because it is going to be so terribly painful and difficult to do.”

Mr Moulton delivered a well-received keynote address on the Brexit issue for financial services and the island at a seminar organised by the Guernsey International Business Association and the local NED [Non-executive director] Forum and sponsored by State Street.

Mr Moulton believed the UK’s future relationship with Europe was far from clear but it would continue to be important for Guernsey.

As “Dick Turpin” commented:

“So, what exactly was it he thought was guiding the thoughts of those who wished to remain? Those of us with some worldly experience and common sense always knew it would be extremely difficult. The whole purpose of the EU was to tie the principle economic powers of Europe together in such a way that wars would be a virtual impossibility. To ensure that, the system was designed to be very difficult to come out of! That same common purpose of avoiding future war and destruction inevitably meant sacrificing some elements of national determination for the common good of all Europeans. We all knew that, even back in the early 1970's.”

“Donkey” is more bullish:

“It was never going to be easy Jon, but the process is underway and the benefits will come to fruition. I'm less than certain that those benefits will extend to these islands, indeed Passporting rights for the City could become a real problem for us !!”

While “Beanjar” is more of a pessimist:

“I'm not sure this chap should be giving speeches if he failed to anticipate that our 'friends' in the EU would respond to the Brexit result with anything other than shock, bitterness and spite. They will do everything in their power to impede the democratic decision but, tough, it's a done deal sooner or later.”

And the final word goes to “InteresTed” who says:

"Interesting to hear the view of a savvy person. I wonder how many realise the benefits if there are any, will take a decade or so to materialise. Crazy idea. How about Guernsey joining the EU, especially if the Scots do something similar. Some very interesting financial juggling could ensue.”

Reform Alderney?

Deputy Sam Mezec held a public meeting in Alderney’s Island Hall after a similar trip to Guernsey. But only around 20 people turned out, although that did include five States members. By way of comparison, 117 people voted for the last placed candidate in the 2016 Alderney elections.

Guernsey Press reported that: “He said that far too much time during a political term in office was spent debating policy – which struck a chord with local politicians.”

‘We spend a huge amount of time debating policy. By the time you have come up with policy and consulted on it, it’s election [time] again. Politicians should have policy before going to the ballot box.”

“‘I think the main benefit of having a party or a common group is that you have those policies before you are elected so the electorate can predict how they are going to vote. If they break their promises they will pay for it at the next election. The public can hold them to account.’”

Trevor Hockey commented:

“Without wishing to sound rude, I do wonder what life or work experience he brings with him, but the same could be said of some of our politicians, as they don't seem to live in the same world as the rest of us.”

But another commentator thought that at least Deputy Mezec was getting involved politically:

“Whether you think Mr Mezec is a breath of fresh air or an annoying little scrote, I think he deserves respect for getting off his backside and getting involved at an age when most of his mates are probably still relying on Mummy to wipe their backsides. We bemoan those young men who don't take responsibility; I don't think he should be criticised for doing just that. And let's not forget, there are plenty of Deputies more than double his age who despite having much more life experience don't exactly bring much to the table.”

Guernsey Movie

We have a £200,000 fiasco, signed off by Senator Alan Maclean, for a fantasy film that will never be seen. But meantime Guernsey, the film, is in pre-production. It looks set to start shooting this spring.

Guernsey’s film, however, is a literary classic, with a director whose CV is impeccable. This is film of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It will be directed by Mike Newell, who previously helmed Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.

The designated lookout for the first Aurigny flight of the week!

And finally, Tourism campaign whips up a storm in Alderney

“‘Wrap up warm and join the seabirds dancing in the wind, or relax and watch the weather roll in from the comfort of an armchair. Feel the warm embrace of our beautifully rugged island in winter, where lights and friendly faces shine brightly amid the wild natural elements.’”

Guernsey Press reports that “a tourism campaign designed to market Alderney as a winter destination has whipped up a storm with the island’s Chamber of Commerce. Windswept Alderney is designed to draw tourists over the lean winter months. But members of the Chamber of Commerce have criticised Visit Alderney for giving the impression of a ‘desolate island’. The bureau has also come under fire for featuring images in the campaign that are not actually of Alderney!!

“A marketing email entitled Windswept Alderney has been sent to people on a Visit Alderney database who have in the past expressed interest in visiting. It continues: ‘Getting here is just the start of your adventure.’”

Nigel Lawrence, vice-president of Alderney’s Chamber of Commerce, said: ‘I don’t think this is image of Alderney that we should be trying to portray. It gives the impression of a desolate island. It may appeal to a few walkers, but I feel that we should be trying to promote how much warmer it is in Alderney than even the south coast of the UK. During the past month our temperatures have consistently been 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than Southampton. Maybe “Come to frost-free Alderney” would be a better approach.’

It has elicited some rather amusing comments:

“The guy in the picture looks to be contemplating suicide by jumping off that cliff!”

“Possibly, but my first thought was that he was the designated lookout for the first Aurigny flight of the week”

“Went up there in a friends boat last summer could of returned with a boat full of Alderney folk begging to escape the place.”

“Well I love it here...may just be the high dose antidepressants we apparently all use I guess :-Pretty daft if they really have used non-Alderney pics though' I'm sure there are plenty out there.”

“Hell, what a depressing photo. ! Possible Title, "One Man and his Lost Dog" ! Looks, like Rover simply lost his footing. !! Fish Food Now.?”

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