‘Gateway to Sark a disgrace’

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‘Gateway to Sark a disgrace’

Post by GD on Fri 14 Oct 2011, 5:13 pm


CHIEF PLEAS came and went in my absence last week – at its now customary breakneck speed, by all accounts.

All over by lunchtime seems to be a catchword where our legislature is concerned, although quite what the Bailiff, Sir Geoffrey Rowland, made of the lack of debate on measures such as a £1.3m. budget – over £2,100 for every man, woman and child living here – only he knows.

It’s certainly a world away from what happens in other legislatures and particularly the one he presides over, as well as the one I reported on for longer than I care to remember. But, as I am repeatedly told when making comparisons, Sark is different. It certainly is.

Earlier this week, I attended the public meeting at which officers from the Guernsey Border Agency and Home Department spoke, at which reference was made to that agency collecting Sark Impots duties on this island’s behalf. I looked at the estimated income for next year and found that it is budgeted to increase by close on 5%.

Given that no increase was proposed at Chief Pleas, I wonder where that additional revenue is coming from. While everyone here hopes that visitor numbers will increase, I doubt that the Finance and Commerce Committee has sufficient data to accurately forecast such an eventuality. Perhaps the committee knows something about the projected level of consumption of wine, beers, spirits and tobacco that is not apparent to the rest of us.

Personally, I’d have thought that in this respect Sark is chasing the record that I understand Alderney holds and that, so I’m told, is approaching saturation point. For the avoidance of doubt – because I recall from previous observations I’ve made about the northern isle that a few individuals there have a low humour threshold and are decidedly touchy when it comes to references to drinking habits – that comment was made with my tongue very firmly in my cheek.

*

The Border Agency meeting to which I referred earlier was interesting, both in the presentation about the department’s wide-ranging responsibilities and in the questions relating to the possibility of Sark having a Customs and Immigration presence here to enable us to handle passenger vessels coming direct from France, thus bypassing the current requirement that visitors from there must first be cleared at an approved port in one of the other Channel Islands.

However, what was equally interesting was the disclosure by chief officer Rob Prow that a drugs courier bound for Sark was taken out by his officers at Guernsey Airport and dealt with by the Royal Court in relation to the insidious cargo he was transporting.

While anecdotal evidence is commonplace in Sark in relation to the availability of illegal substances, I can’t recall a prosecution here during the 11 years I’ve lived here. Perhaps my memory may be at fault – advancing years, as my children and grandchildren kindly put it – but if there is a problem on the sort of scale the SBT (Sark Bush Telegraph) would have us believe, then a few prosecutions would be welcomed, certainly by parents of the island’s children.

I happened to be on the same boat as Rob Prow and his colleagues when they came to Sark on Monday and was also on the toast rack bus which took us all up Harbour Hill. They were met by Conseiller Edric Baker who, as chairman of the douzaine, is also responsible for the maintenance of island roads.

I wonder how he explained away the disgraceful state of that hill to his (and the island’s) guests? That is what tens of thousands a year have to endure when they travel up what is the gateway to Sark and I haven’t even started about the rubbish dump and incinerator they pass just yards into their journey.

The email address for comment is fallesark@sark.net.
(from GEP)


......THE BOSS......

"Always be yourself because the people who mind don't matter, and the people who matter don't mind"

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GD

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