Comment - page 2

Deputies have been put on notice

At the start of the last States meeting members were given what can be described as a friendly dressing down and timely reminder of how they should be behaving in debate. It follows the observations from more experienced hands of how standards were slipping with the new intake. Delivered in good humour, it was a rare if not unprecedented reminder by the Bailiff who had been asked, presumably by the States Assembly and Constitution Committee, to step in.

States risk farce on ‘referendum’

So Guernsey will have a ‘referendum’ on whether to move to some form of island-wide voting. But after the States decided it will not be bound by the result in any way, the question remains how many people will now go to the trouble of heading to the polls. The message from the 19 deputies that tipped the debate was that, after a decade of indecision, we need your guidance – but not that much.

Take two cows...

(Picture by Adrian Miller, 18594307)

Wouldn’t increasing the island’s wealth through the creation of a strong economy be better than finding ever more inventive ways to tax hardworking and prudent islanders, asks Horace Camp – using two iconic Guernsey beasts to make his point

Hidden story to capital spending

ONE of the key debates to be had as the island looks to its future is the level of States investment in infrastructure. It has been a recurring theme in recent years as spending in this area is cut to help move towards a balanced budget. That is unsustainable in the medium to long term. To see just how far things have gone, go back to 2012 when the States spent £61.7m. on projects which included the runway work and Les Beaucamps High School.

Time to think about sentences

AS one deputy calls for a review on whether short-term prison sentences are time well spent, there will be some who fear it is a sign of the island going soft on crime. After all, one of the Bailiwick’s key distinctions is its low crime rate. Part of that comes from a commitment to protecting the status quo, where crime – not least drugs and violence – are met with a zero-tolerance approach. Our sentencing policy echoes that stance and largely acts as a successful deterrent. Yet it does inevitably lead to many short-term sentences – those lasting less than a year – being handed down.

Ringing the changes on mobiles

THE watchdog’s move to open up Guernsey’s mobile phone market to other operators will ring welcome bells with many islanders. As our story yesterday revealed, the boss of the Channel Islands Competition and Regulatory Authorities, combined regulator for Guernsey and Jersey, has branded the existing situation on phone contracts ‘unsustainable’. If the move comes into force it could potentially transform the local pricing model overnight. And surely even the telcos here must think it is only a matter of time before things change, after Thursday’s EU ban on roaming charges.

Live stream could turn into a flood

THOSE who ‘tuned in’ to the States’ first experiment with live streaming showed an appetite for political engagement that deputies would be foolish to ignore. While two dozen or so islanders made the effort to go to Les Cotils on Thursday evening to hear the States Assembly and Constitution Committee explain the value of a referendum on island-wide voting, they were joined by scores of others online. In total, the webcast has been viewed almost 2,000 times.

The price of happiness

18557118

Some things never change, whether it’s politicians and their plans, the two islands disagreeing over the inter-island ferry service or talk of lengthening the runway. At least there’s a new statue of Victor Hugo to look forward to, as Neil Ross’s Emile writes to his cousin Eugene

Was there not a better way than poison?

SEVERAL questions spring to mind when considering the matter of poison being laid around the airport, the most pertinent of which has to be ‘who on earth thought this was a good idea?’ A plan to quell the vole population, hatched in consultation with various bodies, including animal welfare organisations, environmental groups and Guernsey Water, has led to the distribution of thousands of sachets of rat poison in the area. While the risk of a bird strike may be legitimate, tackling it in this way – even if nothing had gone wrong – smacks of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

Do not expect ideas to take flight soon

BEFORE we all get excited about the prospect of cheaper fares, more flights on busy days and paying fewer taxes to support Aurigny a note of caution. As with everything about the island’s government, nothing is going anywhere fast, especially on an issue about which everyone has a view. A timeline for this week’s strategic review should enlighten anyone hoping for rapid change.

Deputies drove deal onto rocks through meekness

Ferries 2017

An unwillingness by the States to be seen publicly in disagreement backfired when it came to a possible deal with Condor to run an inter-island passenger service, says Nick Mann. That ship has sailed until next summer, but if a proposal had gone before the Assembly there is a good chance that the combined economic and social case would have won the day

Good review grounded by division

THERE is a great deal of common sense in the strategic review of Aurigny. What a pity that it has been presented so badly. After a long delay islanders are left playing spot the difference between two reports totalling 20,000 words. The danger is that the good work done by the six panel members will be undermined because they could not hammer out enough compromises to present a single vision. Division creates doubt and weakens arguments.

Scrutiny duty rests with all deputies

A HEARTFELT plea went out from the president of the Scrutiny Management Committee to deputies last week. Deputy Chris Green challenged them to take more responsibility for government, and in particular its effective scrutiny. It was not good enough for members to wash their hands of the uncomfortable business of critical observation and leave examination of the States solely to Scrutiny Management.

Care before cash

18482525

When unexpected medical bills can devastate low-income families, is it strictly necessary to run health services on a commercial basis, asks former Board of Health president Peter Roffey?

Election result leaves us hanging

ANOTHER vote, another night of turmoil. As islanders tuned in bleary-eyed this morning to the certainty of a hung parliament the realisation dawned that the period of political uncertainty kicked off by the Brexit vote a year ago is only just beginning. With Theresa May’s reputation in tatters and her authority undermined to the point where the UK could shortly get a new prime minister, the Brexit negotiations upon which the islands’ futures depend just got even more difficult.