Comment - page 2

Scaled down Samp makes a good start

PERHAPS the greatest disappointment of the last States Assembly was its failure to get to grips with its property portfolio. At a time when the island was desperate for savings – to the point where it was trying to close public toilets – the lack of a coherent strategy for its £2.2 billion property portfolio was unacceptable. The answer was Samp, the Strategic Asset Management Plan, which sought to start making more of the States’ 2,600 properties, selling off some and making others more suited to their task.

IWV feast starts - doubt remains

We were served up the hors d’oeuvres in the feast that is island-wide voting yesterday. In a statement from the States Assembly and Constitution Committee chairman Matt Fallaize and questions that followed, there was a taster of what we can expect from the courses to come. Still the lingering fear remains that the referendum will leave us no closer to an answer about improving the electoral system through island-wide voting than any other debates in the last 40 years.

What can we learn from Venezuela?

An anti-government protester at a burning barricade in Caracas, Venezuela. Thousands shut down the capital city’s main highway to express their disgust with the socialist administration of President Nicolas Maduro. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

It’s prudent to have a back-up for unforeseen emergencies. Even plans made with the best of intentions can go very wrong, very quickly – just look at Venezuela, says Horace Camp

Still waiting for transport direction

IT FEELS a bit like waiting for Godot at times watching the States. We are promised all sorts of great things that are always on their way or just never arrive. But the pressure for this States to do more than just refresh and tick off the work of its predecessor is mounting.

Avoid voter fatigue, take heed of Brenda from Bristol

Brenda from Bristol reacts to news of another election.

She’s the most unlikely of political commentators, but Nick Mann believes the words of Brenda from Bristol, whose reaction to the snap UK general election caught the attention of the media, should be in the minds of States members when they debate the island-wide voting referendum. He says that many islanders believe the States should be concentrating on more important issues and the decision on IWV risks ballot box fatigue with elections every two years

Predictable price rises are still painful

WHETHER islanders will have the same sanguine reaction as the chief minister to news that inflation is back on the march probably depends on where they figure in the quarterly assessment of earnings, due out on Friday. Those at the sharp end of the economy – the Jams, as the prime minister likes to call them – will look at the growth, or lack of it, in their wages and may conclude that the island’s highest inflation increase in five years just made life that little bit harder. For while Deputy Gavin St Pier is right to point out that the combination of a sharp fall in the value of sterling after the Brexit referendum and a rise in oil prices was bound to push up costs and fuel inflation it does not make the 2.9% RPIX rise any easier to swallow.

A community we can all be proud of

WE ARE rightly proud of the very strong community spirit that exists in the Bailiwick and of the strong charitable outlook of the many local individuals who go above and beyond to help others in need. This has once again been brought to the fore in the case of one 11-year-old local boy, Ernie Backlund-Leale. Five years ago Ernie was diagnosed with leukaemia and has undergone numerous treatments including three years of intensive chemotherapy. Very sadly, it was recently discovered that a bone marrow transplant has been unsuccessful and Ernie is now receiving palliative care.

Prison’s ultimate security is a ‘hang of a big moat’

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Why does the prison need £1.7m.-worth of extra security when we’ve got nature’s own moat to deter escapees? Why is Environment crowing over a 7cm reduction in the new buses’ width? And will the extra money made by Aurigny charging taxpayers for drinks become a ‘saving’? Neil Ross’ Emile is (almost) at a loss for words...

The pressure rises in policy bottleneck

A YEAR on from Guernsey’s own general election islanders are entitled to look back on the last 12 months and ask what this Assembly has achieved. There have been some big ticket items – the population strategy and new planning law being top of the list – and a few landmarks such as putting States finances into the black and finalising the deal with the MSG. But much of the progress that has been achieved has been ticking off plans that were conceived by the last Assembly, not coming up with fresh ideas and putting them into action.

Lessons to be learned from failed project

HEALTH & Social Care’s commitment to make public a review of the troubled £9.7m. medical records project is to be welcomed as there are many questions that need answers. Chief among them are how much this has cost and how much of the original plan has been delivered. In cost terms, HSC says that it is ‘on budget’ with the exception of an extra £600,000 given in 2014 for extra staff to ensure the successful completion of the project.

Another vital vote we play no part in

FOR the third time in two years, the Bailiwick of Guernsey must stand and watch as a vote of huge significance to its future takes place knowing it has zero ability to influence the result. In 2013, David Cameron made the EU in/out referendum a central plank of his general election campaign. Two years later the gambit paid off and the Conservatives gained an outright victory, crushing their Lib Dem partners and giving Labour a bloody red nose. That 2015 vote set the course for where Mr Cameron, the British Isles and, by extension, the Channel Islands are today.

It’s no use hiding under the covers over island-wide voting

Man hiding under bed for politics.

Nick Mann asks why have we ended up with variant options of island-wide voting on the table, after the States decided in 2015 for ‘full island-wide voting in one election if approved in a referendum’. Maybe it’s time the members crawled out from under the duvet of indecision and face the cold light of day

Multi-choice referendum set for a fall

GIVEN the number of hurdles still to be overcome, island-wide voting will need the staying power of Grand National winner One For Arthur to last the course. Firstly, there is the not insignificant challenge of persuading the States that a multiple choice referendum is a valid interpretation of the amendment passed by 22 votes to 21 in February 2016. The risk of a bad fall is high. A toxic mix of new deputies eager to have their first say on a key issue, old hands who feel the States Assembly & Constitution Committee has exceeded its remit by offering voters too many choices and diehard objectors to the whole idea of island-wide voting could bring the proposal tumbling down.

What will the future of education actually look like?

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A throwaway comment by Education concerning the cohort of 2017 pupils about to enter secondary education as it undergoes the seismic change from a selective to an all-ability system has Horace Camp wondering if he has grasped the wrong end of the stick