Thursday, 22 November 2018

Tony's Newsround

Sark Electricity

The latest news reported on Bailiwick Express is that emergency generators have been brought in:

"Major Beaumont explained that if Sark Electricity follow through on their threat, the island can expect to be without power for at least six hours. Generators have, however, been brought in to try and keep the power on, although these are only expected to offer a limited supply to key areas including the Island Hall, the Avenue and the doctor's premises. "

The question really is how much it will cost to run as a non-profit organisation - will it be viable at the rate set by the regulator?

Obviously it won't have the overhead of paying a salary to Mr Gordon-Brown, but it will need to pay someone to operate it, and allow for maintenance and replacement costs.

I have some sympathy for Mr Gordon-Brown, who says he has been making losses of £20,000 per month, but I'd have even more if he did the obvious thing and publish his accounts. That would mean that we could see how the business looks, and in particular whether his own remuneration looks fair - after all he has to live! Sark Electricity is not a charity. A loss of £20,000 on a personal salary of £60,000 would be significant, a loss on £120,000 far less so.

This kind of approach of keeping books concealed was what finally sunk the JMT when it came to the Jersey bus service. As far as I recall, they kept their books too hidden from view... and told the States how much was needed for the service. By the time some accounts were made available, it was too late and Connex was awarded the contract, under conditions which meant the States would be able to examine their books.

Mr Gordon-Brown has indicated the low percentage dividend

"Historically, commercial electricity utilities have given their shareholders a 7% dividend and the financial institutions have indicated to us that they would require return of over 15% to invest in a company as risky as Sark Electricity. But, as you have seen, SEL’s shareholders receive less than 2%"

But of course dividends are not the only means of taking money from a private company - there is salary as well. He has said the Sark committee was "too untrustworthy" to see his accounts, but if he really wants to make a case, he should place them in the public domain.

One law for pets, another for motorists?
The JEP reports:

ISLANDERS could be stopped from taking animals directly into Europe if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal in March.... A technical notice, recently published by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, sets out what would happen in an ‘unlikely’ worst-case scenario. It states that pet-owners would have to notify an ‘official veterinarian’ that they were planning to move their animal at least four months prior to the date of travel. It also adds that owners would need to provide a blood test from their pets to prove their animals were effectively vaccinated. If both of these requirements were satisfied, animals would then need to be taken back to an official veterinarian to receive a health certificate – valid for ten days for entry into the EU and four months of onward travel

A no deal Brexit means pets would need vaccinations before going to Europe. But no one has suggested that all pets should be follow the vaccination regime prescribed regardless of whether or not they are going to Europe!!

And yet that is essentially what has been decided with MOT type of testing!Every car will be tested regardless of whether or not the owner wants to go abroad! It’s a crazy world! Perhaps Ian Gorst who seems to think every car needs an MOT type of test because of Brexit can explain why he hasn’t proposed mandatory vaccinations for all pets?

However there are lessons to be learnt from the pet vaccinations in case of “No Brexit”. Islanders are warned they need to arrange matters early because there could be a backlog.

Now if Kevin Lewis had any sense, he'd bring it in as an initial scheme that just prioritises those car owners wanting to travel outside of Jersey, while he sorted out numbers. Otherwise, the backlog could actually mean some car owners cannot go abroad because the of waiting times caused by MOT type tests booked by car owners who actually do not intend to go abroad, but need to comply with the law.

And finally, what will the MOT type of test be called? I suspect that a lot of people mistakenly think that the M stand for something like Motor, and the T for test, like in MOtor Test, but in fact it stands for Ministry of Transport. We don’t have a Ministry of Transport but a Department of Infrastructure, so will ours be called a DOF test?

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