GP Opinion - page 2

Pre-school straitjacket was too tight

AMONG the political bombs going off in the States chamber on Wednesday morning was news of a volte-face on free pre-school education. The flat rate of £5.90 for 15 hours a week paid to each pre-school per pupil was to be replaced by a lower rate of £5 with schools able to charge a top-up rate of 90p if they wanted. For those wedded to the ‘universality’ of the plans it was a massive turnaround which undermined the whole ethos of the plan.

Education president must resign

A PAINFUL extraction of information about the future of secondary education yesterday revealed an Education president at odds with his committee and out of his depth in the role. The inadequacy of Deputy Paul Le Pelley’s opening statement soon became clear as deputy after deputy confessed to being thoroughly flummoxed. It eventually transpired that there had been a change of heart at a meeting of the board on Tuesday and its president was on the losing side.

Aurigny has to be ready to prove itself

THE open letter written by the competition regulator Cicra is addressed to the CEO of Flybe and the chairman of Blue Islands. However, there is a third airline to whom it is just as relevant. When, in January the codeshare agreement between Aurigny and Blue Islands came to an end, passengers, politicians and business groups voiced fears that service levels would deteriorate.

Deputies and officers must work as one

THE worst-kept secret in island politics finally spilled onto the airwaves this weekend as the vice president of Education went public with his grievances about the committee’s civil servants. By the genteel standards of the unspoken relationship between the elected and the professionals it was an extraordinary attack. Unnamed officers are attempting to influence policy by bringing their own opinions to the table and pursuing their own agendas. The committee is making little headway because their policies are not being translated into action.

The high cost of alcohol misuse

A RECENT report released by Guernsey’s Alcohol Advisory Service, which analysed the economic and social cost of alcohol misuse in Guernsey, paints a worrying picture. Alcohol misuse cost the island between £18m. and £21m. last year – 40 times more than the budget received by the island’s alcohol services. The report’s authors believe this is likely to be an underestimate, but it still amounts to a staggering £500 per taxpayer, with two-thirds of that going towards healthcare costs. Per head, Guernsey taxpayers spend nearly three times more on healthcare than their UK counterparts.

Tidal project nears its tipping point

ALDERNEY’S relationship with tidal power can be traced back to early 2004. Since then it has been busy setting up the institutional structures and instigating further studies to allow any projects to get going once the technology becomes viable. But it is a dalliance that has begun to turn sour as some residents begin to question the economics and the impact of the land-based infrastructure needed to make it work. What was once an esoteric concept has become very real with a looming planning application as part of a cable link that will run from France via the island to England.

Dithering leaves no time for Plan B

‘THERE are no cheap alternatives any more.’ And with that the uncomfortable reality of the solid waste strategy is laid bare. Costs are steadily mounting, the level of service is steadily falling, yet the island is on a one-way road with no chance to stop and engage reverse.

We’ve got to have choice

Perhaps Grammar is the odd one out in our system of education? It is the only ‘meritocracy’, yet it achieves no more than certain mixed ability schools in England. (Picture by Steve Sarre, 16108022)

Just when Horace thought he knew where he stood on the education debate, a bit of Googling and a curve ball from the Prime Minister sent him back to the drawing board. The result? Choice is what he’s looking for

FTP savings that exist only on paper

PEOPLE will have their own response to the news that, for every bus passenger carried, CT Plus gets the equivalent of £2.23 in subsidy. Some will consider it money well spent. One in five of the passengers – children under 5, old age pensioners, students – pay nothing. The remainder pay a relatively cheap fare for what can be a lifeline service and, by doing so, cut congestion on the main roads. Environment & Infrastructure estimate that for every £1 invested in the bus service between £3 and £5 is generated in wider benefits to the economy.

Brexit report warns of turbulence

WELCOME news last week that the island’s financial black hole has got a bit greyer is tempered by the understanding that the improvement is based more on short-term gains than long-term structural changes. £700,000 of staff savings by not replacing staff is nice to have but not a guaranteed recurring benefit. Some jobs could be reinstated and some expenditure may simply have been pushed along the road. Likewise, a £2m. uplift in Customs and document duty is a bonus but reflects improving market conditions which could just as easily disappear.

Joyful parade a step in right direction

A RIOT of colour transformed Town this weekend as the island embraced its first Channel Island Pride parade. Sunshine may have been in short supply but hundreds of rainbows were on show for the street festival. It was a powerful statement as islanders and visitors of every background joined together to celebrate inclusiveness and diversity.

The best staff deserve to be rewarded

UNDER the banner of a ‘fair reward’ the island’s senior politician promised this week to bring an end to automatic annual pay rises for public sector workers. It is a drum that has been banged before but there was a determined pitch to Deputy Gavin St Pier’s speech to the States which raised hope that this time it’s serious. The black hole of States finances may have improved a little thanks to some job cuts, investment returns and a dividend from the States Trading Supervisory Board but it is a long way from disappearing.

Memorial marks legacy of air battle

YESTERDAY’S service at the Allied Aircrew Memorial marks far more than the first anniversary of a landmark island monument, as strikingly beautiful as it is. The feature, aptly based at the gateway to our airport, commemorates the 153 allied aircrew of the Commonwealth and USA who lost their lives around the Bailiwick during the Second World War. One year on from its unveiling, the tribute continues to honour those airmen’s ultimate sacrifice – selfless contributions which feel all the more significant during this, Guernsey’s annual Battle of Britain Week.

Long-term solution required

THERE may be questions over how it was achieved and how long it took to get there but few could deny that the resumption of bowel cancer screening is good news. Indeed the most heartening message from Health & Social Care is that it is committed to continue screening beyond 2016. That will save lives and, ultimately, money.

School work for whole community

IF ANY lessons can be learned from the painful and emotional battle that surrounded the closure of St Andrew’s School, it is that concerted ‘people power’ really can eventually win the war. This week, news that the former primary will soon echo once again to the sound of children’s voices is the next-best result for residents of St Andrew’s, which has had a school at its heart since 1741.