Letter of the day

Brexit could provide fillip for agriculture

THE British Retail Consortium, the influential trade association representing UK retailers, recently released a research paper entitled ‘A Fair Brexit for Consumers’ which sets out a possible tariff roadmap for the next UK Government in the post-Brexit world. The report notes that 79% of the UK’s food imports come from the EU.

Yes/no referendum would be a pointless exercise

PETER GILLSON and I were colleagues in the States. In the last term I served on a committee which he led and he served on another committee which I led. I enjoyed working together and respect him still. However, for as long as he continues to assert that the States’ Assembly & Constitution Committee is not adhering to the States’ resolution in relation to the island’s electoral system, as he did again in these pages on 13 April, I will continue to point out that he is wrong. The resolution is a matter of fact: from 2020 all deputies are to be elected on an island-wide basis in a single election on one day provided that method of election is first approved by the people of Guernsey in a referendum.

The facts of RGLI at Cambrai battle

THERE has been a lot of publicity recently about the story of the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry in the Great War and particularly their participation in the Battle of Cambrai in 1917. As the author of a book on the contribution made by Guernsey in the war, it seems to me that there is some misunderstanding about the number of casualties suffered by the Guernseymen in that battle. I thought therefore it might be valuable to set the record straight. On 20 November 1917, when the battle started, 1,311 soldiers were serving in France with the RGLI, although many of these men were not with the battalion but were at the depot in Rouen. In the immediate aftermath of the battle, the unit’s administrative records recorded the following figures:

Crack down on bad drivers, not large-car owners

I HAVE to say I personally do not agree with a tax on wider vehicles on Guernsey roads as it is only going to punish the people who are working class and have a large car. Let’s face it, when a tax like this is introduced people with money coming out of their ears will pay the extra and not even notice the difference in their bank balance as it will just be a few pounds out of their interest. The working person will be the total loser again because it will be more coming out of their hard-earned cash.

Land shouldn’t be gifted to developer

Re: Old brewery site and Comprop (C.I.) Limited. Firstly may I point out that I write as a private person, a tax and ratepayer. I have recently had sight of a letters from a firm of advocates and also an architect concerning the above site. I have done some research, got copies of deeds together with the plans that accompany them, seen and bought aerial pictures, and I believe that I have an informed opinion of the proposed landscape improvements. One of the purposes of the douzaine is to stand as a body of people between government and the general public to protect the interests of the people. The States, by ignoring their democratic vote, show disrespect to both entities. I have been informed that Planning have approved the plans and that a lease is in preparation. It has been widely reported that the douzaine was asked firstly, whether they felt that planning permission should be granted for an extension to the land purchased. The douzaine voted against planning permission on the grounds that firstly, it was their sworn duty to protect the interest of ratepayers and residents of St Peter Port and by extension, protect areas of common ownership. Secondly, that it formed a precedent to sell public land without specific permission and an appropriate open planning meeting.

Crossing the line...

THREE years ago my wife and I visited Botswana for the first time since 1974, when we were leaving Zambia at the end of my three-and-a-half-year contract working at Livingstone General Hospital. In fact, we entered Botswana exactly 40 years after our previous entry. We enjoyed our visit in 2014 so much that we decided to return this year and we crossed the border at Ngoma Bridge in our motorhome on 13 March and stayed for two nights at a nearby campsite. On the morning of 15 March we set off, intending to drive to Kasane. We only reached the Chobe National Park control point, still at Ngoma Bridge, where we had our first and only meeting with officers of the Botswana Police Force.

Island-wide voting column stated facts

ON 11 April, a letter from the States Assembly & Constitution Committee suggested that I had misrepresented facts relating to their recommending a multi-option referendum on island-wide voting. There was no misrepresentation of the facts.

Guernsey Finance should be more open

I AM prompted to write following an recent article published in your paper on Friday 7 April 2017 which indicated that Guernsey Finance, Locate Guernsey and Visit Guernsey should be merged. Deputy Trott seems very keen. ‘It’s something we’ve been thinking about for a while and it’s all about getting the best bang for your buck’, he is quoted as saying. As chairman of GF, he would say that wouldn’t he?

Don’t forget Doulieu

I AM delighted to see the Guernsey Press is supporting the RGLI Charitable Trust’s splendid initiative to raise funds for memorials to the RGLI, one at Les Rues Vertes, near Cambrai in France, and another in the Town Church. However, there seems to be little mention of Doulieu, battle of the Lys, where so many men also fell during that gallant, catastrophic fighting withdrawal against overwhelming force which marked the end of the RGLI as a combat unit. The only mention I have found is in the GP Opinion column of 23 October 2016, that states the Town Church memorial will include those ‘... who faced later final action at Doulieu...’.

Popular garden plants threaten biodiversity

IT APPEARS that there is an enormous amount of Japanese Spindle hedging being planted around the island at the moment (that one which at this time of year has shiny and perfect-looking lime-green leaves, called Euonymus japonicus). Without finding criticism, and having no idea why so many home-owners are planting this hedging, it is part of a quickening trend of the replacement of Guernsey’s high biodiversity vegetation with increasingly very low biodiversity alternatives. It is an almost invariable rule of thumb that the less native a plant is, the fewer insects and other wildlife will grow on it.

If it’s not broke, our government breaks it

HERE we go again. The Guernsey government have taken on something else and are doing their best to destroy it under their policy of ‘if it’s not broke, break it’. They have now taken over the A&E department and, as is the norm with our government, they are charging more and giving less for our money. For those people who have managed to go without things throughout the year to put a bit aside to pay for the medipack (this is a sum of money paid up front at the beginning of the year that is a sort of insurance package to cover them for doctors’ appointments and any visits to A&E), they have now lost out on the A&E visits and will have to pay for any visits to this department. Has it not struck home yet that the time is getting closer for some people (who try and work so hard to help themselves) to not be able to afford any visits to this department?

Shocked by bad behaviour at recycling facility

ON SUNDAYS, with my six- and three-year-old sons, we religiously pop to the Longue Hougue recycling facility. We look to see if there are any little projects to take on, with the intention of helping the children value consumables along with understanding the benefits of reusing, up-cycling, repairing and finding new uses for the throw-away things and leftovers of others. It’s good fun. We might ‘do up’ a bicycle or go-cart, or perhaps use an iron skillet for a fire bowl. The most amazing to date was transforming an old pump to power a home-made rocket. This weekend we were unfortunate enough to cross tracks with an intimidating-looking man propping up one of the skips. We spot him often, roaming like a security guard – but he is not staff. You might see him pouncing on anything of potential financial value, as it was this Sunday.

Changes would spoil what makes Alderney special

‘THERE is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about,’ wrote Oscar Wilde in The Picture of Dorian Gray. And it is in that spirit that I take Chris Rowley’s letter in the most recent Alderney Press (31 March) in which he complained about my ‘tedious letters from a self-righteous windbag’. There are, however, a couple or three quibbles I have with his assessment of my missives.

Listen to the people and cap population now

AS I drove along the front at not more than 20 miles per hour behind a long line of vehicles, eventually getting to Doyle Road and having to wait for the traffic lights in a line of vehicles backed up to before the entrance to Doyle Motors, I could not help but think – if these so-called clever people of the island think we need at least another 3,000 people on the rock we are going to be in deeper trouble then we are actually in now. This would mean more people with nowhere to live, more people bringing their families over once they have settled in themselves and a lot more traffic to sit in the already overcrowded lines of traffic we have already. I had plenty of time to think – as I was going nowhere sat waiting – and the thought of imported labour came to mind and what a dictatorship this island has become.

Island shouldn’t forget about its retired citizens

WE ARE constantly hearing in the media that there is an ageing population and Guernsey in particular will struggle to care for this generation in the future. What they actually mean is we are costing them too much and never mind we have paid taxes from aged 14 or 15 and not the 20-plus that students now do. We have done without to put a roof over our head and feed our children when they came along, no social housing for most of us when we got married. We had no baby at aged 16 with no father in sight. Who actually costs more are the alcoholics, the drug addicts and the single mums who in most cases have no intention of finding a job when their child gets to age seven. The latter gets housed and everything paid for them and go on holidays abroad, use the latest iPhone and smoke. I know as I travel on the buses enough and hear it all.

Cable link plans cloaked in spin

I WAS somewhat bemused (and amused) to be described as a ‘professional spin doctor’ in the letters section of the last Alderney Journal (10 March edition). I am glad your correspondent is not in the medical profession, for his/her diagnosis is wrong. The opposite, in fact. My letters to the Journal and the Press have been written with the central aim of combatting the spin-doctoring that has been administered by various people associated with ARE, Fab and Acre. I have sought to get at the truth behind their opaque and obfuscating language and to expose as fully as possible what the island faces if it were to permit the cable and converter that are being pushed for Alderney by these organisations.

Why are we so accepting of planning decisions?

Once every week the Guernsey Press publishes applications made to the Development & Planning Authority. These applications can be for a wide variety of reasons from erecting a wall, transforming a garden to installing new windows or features in a property. These applications are then discussed in meetings by complete strangers who then have the power to approve or reject these applications. This whole process surprises me in two ways: 1. That the general public of Guernsey do not question the methods of this process and just follow the processes that are in place to ask permission from a group of people to make changes to their own property. 2. There is very little published criteria on how applications are accepted or rejected and how the people in charge make these decisions.

Not wise to ‘throw stones’

MR R S MAUGER writes in vituperative terms in 23 March edition of the Guernsey Press Open Lines page about the ‘little box’ on the hill at the Eturs crossroads – the latest in a series of similar letters concerning the topic of modern buildings that do not follow the Guernsey character. I wonder if Ray Mauger paused for thought about the finer feelings of the Guernsey family who have invested their hard work and hard-earned resources into this new home and are proud to have self-built it over the last 18 months before he burst into print. The house in question is neither complete nor landscaped, but already the self-appointed ‘experts’ in Guernsey vernacular architectural and taste are circling overhead.

True equality must mean an end to all discrimination

I AM astounded at the public display of discrimination in Emilie Yerby’s full page of self-promotion on Monday 13 March 2017. (‘Abandon the quest for equality? That’s an ironic thought on Women’s Day’) She is concerned at the suggestion – ‘on International Women’s Day of all days’ – that the States should abandon its commitment to Cedaw, the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. She then goes on to appease that other half of the electorate by begrudgingly pointing out that there is an International Men’s Day – even going so far as to list a small sample of the types of discrimination men face.

Thank you to our customers for patience during challenging time

WE’D just like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers for bearing with us during what has undoubtedly been an extremely challenging and extensive period of fog disruption. We appreciate that delays, or cancelled flights, are incredibly inconvenient and frustrating, and often result in missed onward travel connections, business appointments, or impede on important plans with friends and family. We sincerely apologise to everyone who has been affected. Unfortunately, weather like this is completely outside of our control, and the safety of customers and staff must always be our number one priority.

Islanders pick up tab for finance industry

LET’S be honest here. Guernsey has major issues. The Open Market prices for houses are going nowhere soon. The UK tax rate falling to 17% by 2020 will not help. And why would you spend three times the price of a UK house to move to Guernsey? And if you have a young family there is little here for them if the weather turns poor, which is most of the winter.

‘Little box’: ticky-tacky or house of its time?

ON PASSING through the filter at the bottom of Les Eturs, I was amazed to see a new house which almost looks like a wooden shed. How on earth was this building given permission to be built? The parish of the Castel is one of the most attractive, in keeping with its rural surroundings with traditional cottages, bungalows, houses etc. The people of the Castel did not attack the plans in advance of this application and now many are complaining of this outrage, but too late. We see once again it’s architect Jamie Falla’s design, the typical box-like design, no contours in shapes and again plenty of glass. How is he allowed to produce these awful structures and given planning permission is a question everyone asks. Just in front of this monstrosity is another ‘block’-shaped building, again out of character in line with the other surrounding rural Guernsey houses.

Government far from open in its conduct

SO IT’S OK in the eyes of the States of Guernsey to effectively put Immuno Biotech out of business by freezing their accounts and banning their products, and to deny people freedom of health choice (and, some contend, die as a result) because there is an investigation going on into so far unsubstantiated claims against the company. (It seems that all medical charges have been dropped and replaced by money-laundering accusations, while the crime whose proceeds were allegedly disguised has not been made known.) This nonsense has been going on for two years or more.

Charges for emergency care a form of stealth tax

PEEWEE’S excellent cartoon (Guernsey Press, 6 March) highlighted the temerity, and some would say hypocrisy, of the new charges being levied by the department of health for emergency care at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital. The private company that used to run the service (PCCL) was paid a retainer to ensure the Emergency Department was staffed around the clock, but their doctors were not paid by the States for the work they did and as a result patients were expected to pay those fees privately. Patients didn’t have to pay for the nurses or for things like blood tests and bandages because those costs were already covered by general taxation and they didn’t have to pay for specialist care because that was already covered by social insurance contributions.

Focus on island issues, not Trump

OVER the last month I understand that there was a small demonstration in the Candie Gardens about the new American president, Donald Trump. What followed was a bit of airtime for these protesters followed by quite a few published letters in the Guernsey Press from many contributors each airing their own views and opinions. I intended to write a letter about the protest and my opinions but then these letters started to appear and I thought I would bide my time.