GP Opinion - page 2

Hate will always find a way to hurt

AS THE grim details of yesterday’s attack on Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament became clear during a long afternoon and evening, people took some comfort in the brave and professional response of the police and other emergency services. Such a high profile terror attack has been anticipated for years but, given the low-tech nature of the assault using a car and a knife, it is hard beyond improved intelligence to see how such incidents can be prevented. Looking on as blue flashing neon lit up Big Ben and the iconic Palace of Westminster, islanders will feel both a detachment from the horror that engulfed the nation’s capital and a familiarity with an area which many will know well through holidays, business trips and previous lives living in London.

Tall tales of population hurdles

IMAGINE a young Guernsey couple leaving the island today for an exciting new life working in the Netherlands. A decade after arriving they start a family and their first son, Willem, is born in the town hospital. Willem goes to the local school, speaks accent-free Dutch as a first language and makes lifelong friends with the neighbourhood children.

Education must stay on track

THERE are three unspoken messages that need to be countered following changes to the public sector leadership of Education, Sport and Culture. The first is that the move might herald a change of direction for the committee’s two most contentious policies: all-ability schools and free pre-school education. While the departing chief secretary may have clashed with some members of his board on both subjects his departure does not change anything.

Positive start must be re-Located

THE resignation of the head of Locate Guernsey comes at a pivotal time in the organisation’s short history. Launched in 2016, Locate Guernsey was established with a £1.2m. budget from the Economic Development Fund as a business development and promotional entity to attract high net worth individuals and businesses to relocate here, with the aim of providing economic benefits for the States and the wider island economy. In addition, the organisation was tasked with providing a ‘one-stop shop’ to make it easier and more attractive to move to the island by providing a smooth pathway through the various pieces of necessary red tape. In just over a year, amid a heavy promotional schedule for its head, Locate was able to demonstrate tangible successes as well as establish its brand in a competitive marketplace and grow the number of personnel in its team to four. By all accounts its first year went well.

Timely delve into fees and charges

The user pays principle has been adopted with vigour by the States driven by ever tightening finances. But the drip drip drip of these charges comes with a fear that they will eventually collectively spill out and overwhelm those in society who are just about managing financially. This will be one of the topics the Scrutiny Committee review of in-work poverty will delve into it.

Property jigsaw pieces start moving

DEALING with the hefty States property portfolio has been a slow burn project. It was unfortunately stifled at source last term when members got cold feet, and with it went the opportunity to not only make significant savings but also improve the lot of those using the different public services the buildings house. But with the need to cut costs pressing, action is finally being taken.

Opening the doors to health care

IN THE last two weeks the Guernsey Press has been given a unique insight into the workings of the hospital. It has been a welcome chance for Health & Social Care to explain how things are evolving and show people where part of the biggest States’ budget is spent. That will be built on further with public open days at the radiology and pathology departments shortly.

Nuclear topic does not need heating up

WITH a doctorate in economic geography, 13 years in the States as a deputy and a background in business and education it would be foolish to dismiss David De Lisle’s views. The former Environment Department minister has spent much of his time in the Assembly probing long-term eco-threats. Often he is ahead of the game on issues such as the dangers of Pfos firefighting foam or cutting the number of plastic bags people use. But at times he has also been accused of being an alarmist who overstates environmental risks.

Islands must keep pace in two-year rush

IF, AS some commentators expect, the prime minister invokes Article 50 this week, islanders will be praying that the governments of Guernsey, Alderney and Sark are as ready as they can be for what will be a difficult and era-defining two years. In many ways it will be a relief to finally get the process under way. The nine-month interregnum since the UK’s referendum vote to leave the EU has been vital for preparation but, ultimately, the sooner a deal can be struck and a period of great uncertainty ended the better.

Slow progress to social change

IT IS now eight years since the States promised to look into improving the lives of disabled people through new laws and a defined strategy. Several consultations and reports later the strategy was backed by deputies in November 2013. Since then progress has been frustratingly slow and limited. Pockets of good work have been done as various States departments show willing but the sense of a cohesive strategy at work is hampered by the lack of a law.

UK boost for grammars not relevant

CHANCELLOR Philip Hammond’s Spring Budget promise to spend £320m. on 110 new free schools puts the UK on the opposite tack to Guernsey. Under Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan many of those free schools are likely to end up as grammars as part of the mission to create ‘the world’s great meritocracy with a good school place for every child’. It is unfortunate timing for Guernsey to be in the throes of its own educational revolution just as the debate is revived in the UK.

Concerns should be answerable

A REAL nervousness is apparent in those behind the new population management regime. They fear it being hijacked at this late stage, six years after the work began on replacing what is a toothless system when it comes to population control. When professional bodies such as the Chamber of Commerce and Confederation of Guernsey Industry speak up, as they have done in the last week, deputies tend to take note.

Population law reform will evolve

INFORMED islanders are worried. Key businesses are too. And now some deputies are taking stock and deciding the next step in what to do about introducing the new population management regime. This is a major reform that has taken six years of work and been tweaked after extensive consultation to address concerns along the way. Crucially the new system will for the first time give the States at least some control over population numbers, the fabled tools in the toolbox that were so noticeably absent from the current arrangements.

Complaint drama comes to a sad finale

THE curtain finally came down yesterday on a melodrama that exposed serious failings in States’ disciplinary procedures. After two investigations and weeks of political intrigue, fierce denial and confusion, allegations against three deputies were finally laid to rest yesterday. Quite what those claims were is still not clear. All islanders knew was that it has something to do with conversations about Deputy Marc Leadbeater’s ability to carry out his work as a States member given family commitments.

Eisteddfod 87: let the show begin

ONE of Guernsey’s great success stories gets under way today with the 87th edition of the Guernsey Eisteddfod Festival. Apart from the Second World War, a festival has been held in the island every year since 1922, giving tens of thousands of talented islanders their chance to shine. It is a remarkable legacy, which is all too easily taken for granted.

Aurigny shows its compassion

FROM today, islanders facing the sudden death or life-threatening illness of a relative in the UK can apply for a compassionate fare from Aurigny. It is the right move and one that is to be welcomed as embodying the spirit of ‘the islanders’ airline’. At a time of high stress and urgency it is not right that islanders should be faced with paying a punitive price for flights just because they could not foresee the emergency and book early.