Letter of the day

A fairer approach to pensions issue

WITH regard to the proposal that future pensioners would not be receiving their pensions until the age of 70, I think that a fairer way would be that everyone should have to put into the pension scheme for 50 years, then that way we would all pay the same. Those who start work at 16 would usually be those people who are in manual type work, where they could not possibly be expected to work until the age of 70. They then would have the option of retiring at 66. These would be the people that, as it is at present, would be paying the most into the system. I myself paid for a total of 51 years, which is 11 years more than the doctor, accountant, dentist, lawyer or bank manager, etc. etc., who went to university until the age of 24 or 25 then needed to take a year out because they had ‘worked so hard’ and deserved a holiday. This would sort them out. With my system we would all pay for the same number of years.

Repair L’Ancresse wall – don’t destroy our beach

WHO do you think you are kidding Mr Brehaut (sing this to the tune from Dad’s Army).* Firstly, let’s get away from the political rhetoric. I quote from your response to Liz Heaume’s excellent letter in the Guernsey Press, ‘I must stress, we have no desire to replace or repair a German anti-tank wall’. The wall ceased to be an anti-tank wall when the Occupation ended. Since then it has been a sea defence. Over the years it has become part of the landscape. I enjoyed playing on the beach in the 1930s and again after the war and for the last 53 years I have lived on the common and on the beach. If you don’t think the wall is a sea defence then you should walk along behind it in gale force winds on a high spring tide. That will soon change your mind.

L’Ancresse wall proposal must be properly debated

THIS letter follows up on my last letter on the L’Ancresse/Pembroke wall. (Open Lines, 16 June) I cannot believe that, according to the Guernsey Press of 22 June, Deputy Barry Brehaut has refused to accept that there should be a full debate on the future of the L’Ancresse/Pembroke wall with it being submitted to the States as a full comprehensive report under its own heading in the Billet. (‘E&I reject deputy’s call for L’Ancresse wall debate’)

Condor is to blame for lack of day trips

WITH reference to the letter in the Guernsey Press of 8 June, I must take issue with the response from Condor’s spin doctor Helen Day regarding the problems surrounding day trips between the islands. Ms Day states that an inter-island passenger-only ferry was unable to happen due to ‘reasons outside of our control’. I’m sorry, but from where I’m looking from, the reasons day trips are few and far between nowadays are entirely down to Condor.

If roads are wide enough for buses, vans, why do we need a width tax?

THERE is an awful lot of nonsense talked – mainly in the States of course – about the size of cars on this island and now Peter Roffey is on about his punitive width tax again. For heaven’s sake, the motor car is an integral part of modern life, providing convenient, comfortable and enjoyable transport for thousands of people in Guernsey. Get used to it and stop treating us as an unlimited source of income to be blown on wasteful projects.

Why not move industrial firms to Longue Hougue?

VERY many industrial firms are collectively or individually being forced to seek an area to conduct their business. Inevitably they will not be sightly places because by their very nature they will be dusty and needing many movements of heavy vehicles. Witness the Fontaine Vinery site, where screening trees and shrubs were planted at the outset but have still not reached maturity and so it remains an unsightly area viewed from the busy adjoining road, the constables’ office and overlooking houses. The planning authorities, backed by the States, are determined to find places in the island where these businesses can be located. Often they will be totally out of keeping with their surroundings; near residential areas, upsetting the neighbours, or actually in the countryside itself, using lanes suitable only for bicycles.

Pension reforms: ‘It’s clear some islanders are definitely more equal than others’

I REFER to the letter headed ‘Pension laws unfair to women’ (Open Lines, 5 June 2017). I fully agree with the contents of this letter. The writer who had been widowed spoke of how her old age pension entitlement was adversely affected by her remarriage. She also made reference to your front page story regarding the treatment of Mrs J. Lowe, another widow who, after she remarried, was denied the full benefit of her dead husband’s pension. (Guernsey Press, 22 May) Had these ladies been widows as at 31 December 2003 they would have been entitled to the full benefits of their husbands’ pensions. Women who were divorced on this date are entitled to the full entitlement (100%) of their ex-husbands’ pensions whereas married women are only entitled to 62%.

Save L’Ancresse wall and kiosk

I AM appalled by the preferred option presented at the open meeting on Monday. Do people realise it will result in two very ugly groynes destroying the whole appearance of our wonderful sweeping beach? These will not be piers to dive off, they will be just chunks from the wall and rocks piled up along the slipway and in front of the kiosk, with a second heap of rubble and rocks put onto the rocks towards the middle of the beach. I am in favour of repairing the sea wall and re-instating the toe in front of it, also repairing the slipway. We were told at the meeting this would cost £650,000, a far cry from the £1.8m. for the preferred option. The repair was predicted to last 25 years.

The long and the short of it: a runway extension isn’t a solution to the problem

(Picture by Steve Sarre, 2777254)

WE NEED a longer runway because the States say so... or do we? In 2013, the States supported a Billet d’Etat which was solely designed as a protectionist measure against the threat of easyJet competing with Aurigny. At that time Aurigny had become the sole operator of the Gatwick route from Guernsey after Flybe withdrew its operations from Gatwick and sold the Gatwick slot to easyJet. Flybe then concentrated most of its southern UK operations into Southampton while at the same time restructuring itself to stem the huge (£42m. in 2013) losses it was making. As part of that restructuring, the route from Gatwick to Guernsey was axed along with many other routes across its entire route structure to a variety of destinations, one of which was the red eye to Southampton from Guernsey.

Light bulb moment: fundraising target is reached early

RE: ARCADE Christmas lights. Since taking over the charity now that it has come away from the constables and douzaine and running it since 1 March this year, our first priority was to ensure we had enough operational funding in place in time to contract the testing, minor repairs, erecting and then taking down again of the lights. As the lights need to begin being erected in October (over a six-week programme) we decided that the £35,000 needed for this work needed to be in place by 1 September. Thanks to the generosity of you, the community of Guernsey and Guernsey Post with the envelope drop, we reached this total at the start of June.

Pension rules could be a nasty shock for ‘hundreds of women’

THE Guernsey Press recently reported the position of Mrs Lowe (22 May), who has lost part of her old age pension after being widowed because she committed the crime of remarrying before the age of 65. Again, on 5 June, in a letter on the Open Lines page a similar case is reported where a woman is similarly punished for remarrying before her 65th birthday, after having been divorced. This is just the tip of the iceberg, this appalling situation applies to probably hundreds of women in Guernsey. Many who are yet to claim their pension will be blissfully unaware that their pension will be far less than they should reasonably expect. Any woman who has remarried following widowhood or divorce really should approach the Committee for Employment & Social Security now to ascertain their entitlement. Many will be unpleasantly surprised at the punishment in store for them for committing the crime of choosing to remarry.

Here’s why Aurigny should have a Rennes connection

THERE have been recent articles in the Guernsey Press about the latest losses made by Aurigny and also their blaming fog for decreases in passenger numbers. Three years ago, Aurigny announced that they would be flying the following year to Rennes instead of Dinard. This did not happen and Aurigny announced last year that this was ‘still under consideration’. The following is a strong business case for flying to Rennes instead of Dinard:

It’s not a simple case of extend runway and airlines will come

I HAD rather hoped that when I wrote my article on why we shouldn’t extend the runway that I’d said all I wanted to say. However, in the light of the recent opinion piece by Tim Robins [Tuesday 30 May], there are a few things I’d like to respond to and I’m grateful to the editor for allowing me the space to do so. Tim says that my desire not to extend the runway is based on ‘passionate environmental beliefs’. He’s quite right that I believe in protecting the environment – only a fool wouldn’t as it’s pretty vital. However, I was basing my case against the runway extension on two things: cold, hard cash and what’s likely to be best for Guernsey. Indeed, there is perhaps a long-term case that bigger aircraft operating less frequently would be marginally better environmentally.

What to do about rubbish?

MY NAME is Padraig. I am 10 years old and go to Notre Dame du Rosaire. I am writing to you to tell you about the issue of rubbish in Guernsey. There is too much of it. Mont Cuet is going to be full by summer next year and what are we doing to reduce the rubbish? Not enough. Putting rubbish in bin bags is a terrible idea as seagulls rip it open to eat things in it and rubbish goes everywhere. Bin bags are rubbish too but can’t be recycled as they are made from black plastic. They also rip easily so cannot be used again. We have to do something about this.

Has Guernsey no say in the issuing of its passports?

FURTHER to your article of Friday 2 June concerning UK citizenship recipients. While I offer the successful applicants my congratulations upon gaining UK/Guernsey citizenship, I cannot help but wonder why it is the UK alone that decides who can and who cannot receive a Guernsey passport. I have lived and worked in Guernsey since 1982, got married in 1983 (I met my local husband abroad and we came to Guernsey together) and we have a child who also lives here. I have no criminal record and can, if required, produce several character references from local residents, some of them States or former States members.

Second-hand boats would increase maritime security

I WRITE to you today around the ongoing issue of the replacement of FPV Leopardess and UK Maritime Security, which is of great concern in the current climate. Several naval, counter terrorism, Customs and immigration experts have consistently raised the issues of ‘unguarded’ marinas and areas up and down the coast as being vulnerable and have urged an increase to the number of HM Cutters used by border forces and Crown Dependencies Customs to patrol the seas around the UK. I would agree with these calls and have found out that currently advertised for sale in the Netherlands are three Damen Stan 4207 patrol cutters second-hand through Damen Trading. They were originally vessels used by the Jamaican Defence Force Coastguard.

Market crucial to air services, not runway size

IT APPEARS some on the island are prepared to spin any news item to get their way. Last summer, following misleading articles to justify a runway extension, I wrote some comments on your online ‘Your Shout’ [under the name Guernie]. So I would like to put forward some facts and comments to your printed issue:

What’s the true cost of ‘delays and incompetence’ at Jescc?

FIRSTLY I must apologise to the readers for the length of this letter, I like to try and keep them short but on this topic it is just not possible. I must congratulate the Home Department media spokespeople for bringing the Jescc overspend out just one day before Aurigny’s £6m. loss. What a great way to bury bad news. Since my last letters on the subject, I have been contacted by a number of people, from across all three services, who have expressed concerns about Jescc and due to their employment cannot speak out publicly for fear of reprisals that would affect their careers within Guernsey’s emergency services. However, they know that I am not afraid to speak out for them.

Repairing wall the cheaper option

IT SEEMS the bill to sort out the sea wall/anti-tank defence at L’Ancresse, whatever version you prefer, is going to be a million quid of taxpayers’ money, when apparently cash is tight. Now, I freely admit that I am not a civil engineer, but I cannot see a repair good for the next 70 years costing that much. A bit of concrete underpinning, some rock armouring and Bob’s your father’s brother. It is well documented that anything to do with Environment will go over budget, just look at the very expensive and unnecessary work at La Salerie, along with three Active Travel Unit staff we managed for years without. Surely by saying it is going to cost £X before you actually go out to tender is pure folly, it instantly pre-empts the pricing structure? Perhaps M&S Engineering, who have done such a good job at the Horseshoe Pool, could put in a tender to repair it?

Island holidays ended by high cost of travel

WE HAVE been visitors to Guernsey for the last 50-plus years, also our family and friends have visited the island and loved it. We have sometimes made two visits a year, staying up to three weeks and enjoying a wonderful Christmas on the island. We are now pensioners and for the last two years we have been unable to holiday on our beloved island of Guernsey.

Condor has ‘no real back-up’ for Liberation

HAVING sent in a few letters to your paper since the ill-thought-out purchase of the Liberation, which together with other readers’ letters seem to have had zero effect on Condor, I had more or less decided to ‘hang up my pen’ but Deputy Jennifer Merrett’s excellent statement in a Guernsey Press article on 12 May prompts me to write in support of her ambition to get Condor Ferries to obtain a new UK ferry. Deputy Merrett correctly says Condor has no real back-up if the Liberation doesn’t sail. Her proposal to re-introduce a third UK ferry is an eminently sensible business proposition and if Guernsey is to grow the sea visitor tourism sector back to the 2014/2015 levels, it needs more scheduled sailings and more back-up. The years 2014/2015 are the last period when we had three UK ferries (instead of just two as now) and many more scheduled sailings to/from Guernsey... as such these are the years Condor has to compare present figures against.

‘No responsibility for mental health’

I READ with interest Emilie Yerby’s account of how Guernsey is making excellent strides in strengthening its support for islanders’ mental health. ‘Mental health is the responsibility of all of us’. In my experience, it is the responsibility of anyone but the service set up to provide just that support. My life took a dramatic turn a couple of years ago, circumstances completely out of my control, which continue to have an enduring effect on my life. My GP kindly referred me for talking therapy with the Primary Mental Health team.

Removing L’Ancresse wall is a backwards step

RE. REPAIRING L’Ancresse sea wall. Surely a better way to prevent the sea advancing to the lower populated land beyond the sand dunes can be found than destroying the historic wall that has stood up to the constant punishment from the sea for so many years and has provided the only form of wind shelter available there. The sea has to be prevented from sucking out the material below the wall by the most practical cost-effective means possible.

Would width tax hit drivers who keep bigger cars for off-island use?

IN PETER ROFFEY’S socialist world, is it the ‘purchase’ of a wider car that is wrong, or ‘using’ it in Guernsey? If it is the latter, how does he propose to treat people like me – and I am certainly not alone – who use a small car on the island and keep a large car in the garage ready to take off-island when I go on longer trips, say to France, Spain, Portugal or even parts of the UK? Do I get taxed by PR and Co because I have the temerity to actually buy a larger car, even if I do not use it here? Hmm, not sure that sounds very fair.

Building wind farm would use up non-renewable resources

ACCORDING to the article by Nick Mann in the Guernsey Press regarding the possibility of a floating offshore wind project, it would appear that the cost to install this type of development would be in the area of some £180m., at current prices, with five turbines having 30MW of power (‘Study findings float idea of viable offshore wind project’, 19 May).