Letter of the day

History of inaction over L’Ancresse wall

RE: L’Ancresse sea wall. To provide you with some history of this issue, I give below a brief outline of the catalogue of errors in respect of the States’ involvement and indecision.

When is the Wrightbus the wrong bus?

I DON’T believe it. Only our States could buy buses (Wrightbus StreetVibe) that are narrower and shorter but are more difficult for drivers to steer around areas like La Barbarie corner. We may have bought the Wrightbus but it looks to be the wrong bus for ironically the one place where it should have been easier not more difficult to drive around – La Barbarie corner. Deputy Barry Brehaut, as president of E&I, has been made to look foolish with him extolling how much better the new buses are. It looks like he has been let down (again?) by staff who should have warned him of the new buses’ shortcomings.

SPP school could be better option

WELL, that’s not difficult eh? Education department’s preferred option £108m., as compared with the other option at £122.3m. Obviously the big difference between the two options is the cost of the College of Further Education. It would appear that a refurbishment of the Les Ozouets site has not been considered because the full range of facilities required there could not be provided. It is many years since I was head of business studies at the college but certainly the greatest need was for classrooms – and the old St Peter Port school has these in abundance. I have recent experience of seeing these as I take my granddaughter to the school for choir practice each week. They appear to be in a state of good repair and the hall looks to be in excellent condition.

ESC transforming education system for the worse

THE document ‘Transforming Education’ shows that the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture has ignored the wishes of parents, the needs of children and the requirements of employers. Instead, the committee has opted to bring forward proposals that their civil servants favour and that teachers will be comfortable with. Secondary education in Guernsey will be controlled by civil servants who need have no knowledge of education and delivered by teachers who have no incentive to raise standards. Entry to each of the new secondary schools will be determined purely by geography. Since all the schools will be within a couple of miles of each other (compared with the 260-mile round trip that friends of mine in Africa had to make to take their children to school), there is no logical rationale for determining entry on the basis of address alone.

Playing with our children’s future

I ATTENDED two of the Education committee’s presentations recently, but left with serious reservations in a number of areas over the effect their proposals will have over the upcoming years. Parents and teachers were worried over the potential for children to be affected by moving between locations midway through their secondary education, or the Grammar School becoming a ‘ghost school’ as the September 2018 intake make their way through. They were concerned at the prospect of teachers leaving the Grammar School and of the effect of the difference in cultures between La Mare de Carteret and the Grammar School, with the merger of their staff and senior leadership team in September 2019 resulting in the Grammar School becoming ‘La Mare Lite’.

Minister missing point on sea wall

HAVING this week seen on the BBC evening news how the Greenland ice fields are melting at an unprecedented rate, with the inevitable rising of sea levels, and in a decade where winter storms are becoming more frequent and more violent, it would not seem to be the best time to be considering removing part of what has for the past 70 years proved to be a very effective sea defence at L’Ancresse. No one can know exactly what effect leaving a gap in the current wall will have. It seems an extremely dangerous premise that a sand dune similar to the one in the 1930s will develop where the section of wall has been removed.

Jaonnet – not a nudist beach

I HAVE raised this issue before with the parish constables and the police. I visited Jaonnet on Monday and as usual there were many men... swimming, posing and ‘cruising’, nakedly. I’m not homophobic and of course men can meet other men as and when and where they want, suitably clothed, but I am not alone in finding their naked parading distasteful.

Adult further education is worth cost - fees hike will see fewer users

I SEE there is an understandable furore regarding the increased cost of adult further education courses, with the beekeepers and the birdwatchers already saying it will make their courses too expensive. Now I, from choice, have no children but for decades I have been paying my taxes towards educating the children of others. Is it fair or right therefore that people like myself or my wife should be financially penalised for wishing to attend adult education classes? I really do not think so. After all, we have been financially supporting the loss-making Beau Sejour for decades, so why cannot Education support adult education classes?

Logo should be decided by community

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ON READING the back page article of your paper on 19 July about the revealing of the new Island Games 2021 logo, it seems to me that a big opportunity has been missed here. Unless I’ve missed something, it appears the committee have designed and chosen a new logo themselves without any consultation with the wider community of Guernsey. Surely such an iconic event and new brand should encompass and bring together the local community? Then I read on, and if my sources are correct, the designer of the logo works for Specsavers Optical Group, and with Dame Mary Perkins being the chairperson, one can only presume the design brief was only offered directly to their in-house creative department?

Bee course fee hike will put students off

THE Guernsey Beekeepers Association has for many years run a vocational course in conjunction with the College of Further Education, at its request. We were informed last week that the course fee for ‘Introduction to Beekeeping’, our night school course for the next year, will more than double from £90 to £215. This cost increase is prohibitive and will act as a discouragement to those wishing to take the course.

Guernsey should have input on cable-link debate

WE READ of the proposed electric cable link to run from France to the south coast of England via Alderney. I understand that no decision to go ahead will be made by the Alderney authorities until the completion of their planning proposals for the whole island. In the meantime the French who have this project in hand have already surveyed an alternative route to bypass Alderney and could go ahead without any further island involvement. I find it surprising that Alderney can be so casual about the loss of the considerable income from the project while at the same time receiving subsidies from Guernsey into their economy which are essential to their wellbeing, perhaps even survival.

Will L’Ancresse plan result in unusable and deformed bay?

A visualisation of how the beach and dune could look if established between the two rock groynes.

I AM WRITING to express my concern at the most ridiculous and ill thought out plan concerning the L’Ancresse anti-tank wall which the Environment Department seemed to think they could sneak through without anyone noticing. The Environment Department, and in particular Deputy Brehaut, have come up with a plan that is neither taking down the wall completely nor repairing the wall properly. In fact, after hearing the interview Deputy Brehaut gave on BBC Guernsey the other day, it is a plan that they don’t seem to know or understand themselves. In the interview Deputy Brehaut stated that the slipway is to be removed, a fact that was not conveyed to the public in the meetings, nor was it included in the presentation slides. This appears to be a new development.

The trouble with paradise… Yes, this island is beautiful, but living here is no holiday

SOMEONE asked me recently, why don’t you write something positive about Guernsey? They said it is a beautiful place to live. My question is, what way are we looking at Guernsey being a beautiful place to live? Are we looking at the island from the point of what nature has provided for us that the government cannot charge us for? Or are we looking at whether we can afford to live on the island or not? If one has money enough to live on this beautiful rock they would be hard pushed to find a better place to spend their time, but if one is on the other side of the coin and struggling to make ends meet, it is another story.

Cruise visitors’ bus queue embarrassing

ON WALKING past the Picquet House on Friday [7 July] I noticed a very large queue of cruise liner passengers waiting for a bus to take them around the island. This was at approximately 12.45pm, and on passing again, the queue had reached towards the newspaper kiosk. Speaking to the bus driver, he informed me that they were queueing for the one o’clock and the next one would not be until 1.40pm.

Looking for a better work-life balance? ... come see us at the Foresters’ Arms

The patrons of the Foresters’ Arms are worried about Guy Hands of Terra Firma fame. Or rather they are worried about Guy Hands as portrayed in James Falla’s piece about Mr and Ms Julia Hands’ appearance at the thoroughly catered ‘Leaders Conference’ (‘I’m not sure Guy has a work-life balance’, Business, 7 July). Are we invited to admire Mr Hands, emulate him, or encourage him to seek help? In a newspaper where barely a week passes without a feature by young Jill Chadwick telling of the importance of ‘mindfulness’ (how this differs from ‘being thoughtful’ has somehow passed me by) it seems strange not to question the patently untrue implication that success in business can only be achieved by sacrificing one’s family and friends.

No one’s listening as the Education ‘juggernaut’ destroys our Grammar School

THE reason so few came to Education’s meetings is because deputies are not listening not because they got it right. The juggernaut that is destroying the Grammar School will not be stopped so why waste time? The deputies state they are staging two meetings a day to give islanders the opportunity to attend yet they are removing the opportunity of an excellent education from thousands of island children for generations to come, who will be ill equipped for the inevitable selections of life.

GP surgery prices could damage the health of your bank balance

I RECENTLY attended my doctor’s surgery based in the Castel for a fasting blood test with the nurse and duly paid £13 consultation fee (pay on the day). Some weeks later my wife attended her surgery in St Peter Port for a fasting blood test with the nurse and was asked for £27.50 (pay on the day). When comparing these charges, she contacted her surgery quoting the price difference only to be told comparing surgery to surgery was not possible and her complaint could only be placed on record.

Is there a master plan for future of post-16 education?

LIKE many of my friends, I am a fully paid up member of the guilt-ridden parent club; constantly trying to make the right decision for the future wellbeing of my nine-year-old child. Is she old enough to walk to school without me; have I put enough fruit in her lunch box; is she spending too much time on the iPad, should I get her a maths tutor? The list goes on... So this week I’ve being trying to get up to speed on the new education proposals to ensure that I’m fully informed for the parental meetings we’ve been invited to. However, despite scrutinising the comprehensive information pack shared online, I’ve concluded that I must be missing something.

‘Over-greening’ of buildings increases fire risk

ENERGY conservation has led to increased fire hazards. After the fire at Grenfell Tower in London and the subsequent failure of fire spread tests by its (and so far 150 other towers’) insulating cladding, some observations applicable to Guernsey may be made. Many buildings in the UK which had been clad with materials that had a zero fire spread rating have now had samples tested by the Building Research Establishment and have failed. It is therefore now clear that either the testing and certification originally given to these buildings was inadequate for such building applications or the testing now being carried out by the BRE is overly stringent.

Marine reserve would boost fish stocks – and tourism

THERE was an excellent letter in Thursday’s Guernsey Press about fish stocks from Mr Ferbrache. Why ever has not the States set up in Guernsey a marine conservation area, that is a no-take zone? Some years ago I wrote to Richard Lord, the marine photographer and a member of La Societe Guernesiaise, about setting up conservation areas. In the warmer summer months for the last 30 years I have regularly swum with mask and snorkel in Chouet and when windy in Pembroke. I used to see many small flat fish fry every time but in the last few years they are not present. Why, I do not know. Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel set one up around its short coastline and after some seven or so years there are large lobsters all outside the zone, much to the delight of the local fishermen. Not only are marine conservation zones good for fishing but also for tourism.

Two cheaper options for fuel delivery

AS A marine civil engineer, I have read with interest your recent articles and letters concerning the future delivery of fuel to the island and was very surprised by the estimate of ‘hundreds of millions of pounds’, which we clearly cannot afford. When we can no longer use our existing tankers that sit on the bottom at low tide there are two very obvious options available to us. The first, for fuel deliveries only, would be a single buoy mooring. This would be installed in the Little Russel and attached to the seabed with heavy chain and piled anchors. The tanker moors to the buoy and picks up the attached floating fuel hoses and pumps the fuel ashore by undersea pipeline.

Sprinkler excuse ‘doesn’t hold water’

THE mounting evidence would seem to be that any high-rise flats should have sprinklers. The excuse given why Cour du Parc was not fitted with them does not seem to hold water.

Lack of vision is shown by your columnist

RICHARD DIGARD’S column of 29 June was, as he acknowledged, ‘unashamedly personal’ and why not, that is of course his prerogative. Without wishing to step on the treadmill of ‘he said, we said’ the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure cannot sit idle while such inaccuracies are given prominence in the Guernsey Press, however personal the agenda might be. Also, if I was to rush to my laptop to respond to Mr Digard each time he was critical of the committee I would be a busy man indeed. Just ask any former Environment Department minister, the then Guernsey Press editor became something of a one-trick donkey, braying at all things environment related, even now as a casual columnist those old habits die hard.

Name one airline that would fly here on condition of an extended runway...

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AS TIM ROBINS has mentioned me by name in the letter that appeared on 24 June 2017, I would like to put the record straight. I was born and brought up on the island and have worked for more than four decades in the hospitality, tourism and travel industry, not just on Guernsey but worldwide. Furthermore, I travel frequently back to Guernsey and keep myself well-informed on local matters, including those related to the tourism and aviation industries. The question of whether to extend the runway, or not, is not about protecting the state-owned airline, Aurigny, or the excessive amount of losses that that airline incurs. Nor is it about improving the island’s air links. Those are other issues that need, and can be, addressed, as elaborated on in the Strategic Air Links Report of 2015 and the more recent Aurigny Review. Nor should it be about emotive issues and philosophies such as ‘showing the island is open for business’, ‘build it and they will come’, ‘being better than Jersey’ or replicating the ‘brave visionary decisions taken in the 19th century’. It is about whether the massive cost of £30m. and more, plus the disruption caused during the construction itself, the closing of La Villiaze Road, the enormous landfill required over and beyond that road, the loss of agricultural land and buildings plus the potential damage to the environment in that particular part of the island, is worth it and will bring additional benefits to the island.