Letter of the day

Comments about disability ‘ridiculous and misinformed’

I WAS thumbing through the Press the other day and stumbled across an article regarding Deputy Marc Leadbeater and his son, vis-a-vis how the latter is said to have affected Deputy Leadbeater’s working life. I feel compelled to write a response to what seems an amazing, appalling and, ironically enough, uneducated stance from what is supposed to be a council of education. I am extremely proud to consider Deputy Leadbeater’s son a close and personal friend of mine. Yet again I am concerned that assumptions are being made about the life and times of someone living with a disability. A rhetoric rings in my head: ‘Do these comments reverberate from research of those living with disability?’ ‘Do these comments come from personal experience of living with someone with a disability?’ I doubt it. It seems that presumptions are being made about Deputy Leadbeater with no evidential or experiential backing. Has anyone making such a presumption even met my friend?

‘Toothless’ States should protect building industry

AGAIN the Guernsey public find it so frustrating about continuing reports in the news media of the white van man situation happening so often in our island. This has been going on for years and still our ‘toothless’ government does nothing to improve this situation and help protect the survival of our building industry. A meeting was called last year by certain deputies and the building industry attended and still nothing has happened, again toothless and afraid to do something about it. Our sister island once again are more intelligent than us and have created laws and licences to control this problem over there. Yet Jersey firms and UK firms can work here with no penalties or licences and yet if Guernsey tradesmen work over there then once again they have to use the Jersey laws to work, an unfair situation.

Education taking a step backwards

AS SOMEONE who knows the sorry limits of his own intelligence, even I can’t believe the foolishness, crassness and obtuseness of the Education board in proposing, and the deputies in backing, the break-up of student selection (11-plus). Why fix what ain’t broke? There is only one reason and one reason alone for this change in the education policy, and that’s money, but it’s a short-sighted one. The young are this island’s future and those who will probably need the most help with their education will ultimately be the ones to suffer. I’m someone who missed out because of the implementation of comprehensive schooling (that year the pass level for Grammar schools was raised a few per cent, ‘just enough for me to fail’, uh). And although I’m not a Guernseyman myself, I’d hate to see what happened with the end of the 11-plus in England happen in Guernsey.

To give or not to give? The choice should be our own

GUERNSEY and its residents have now to face yet another year where the Church of England, via both the Ecclesiastical Court and the parish rates, remove from the public over £1m. into their own hands. This figure does not include the so-called parish share of over £600,000, which is apparently voluntarily given by members of their congregation and of course fees obtained from weddings and funerals. Remember none of this money has to leave our island but much of it does. The Diocese of Winchester, according to their own deanery summary dated 28 March 2014, was committed in that year to receive a total of over £10m., with Guernsey committed to sending £640,768 and Jersey a total of £858,945. Please bear in mind there were at the time 42 current dioceses divided into two provinces.

Reciprocal health agreement would boost tourism

I SEE our Visit Guernsey people are spending half a million pounds on a TV advertising campaign. Would that money not have been better used funding a reciprocal health agreement? We attract visitors to our island and then if they fall ill we whack them for massive medical charges, which means they leave Guernsey with more resentment than happy memories. Not everyone can afford or even obtain travel insurance, both from visitors and locals going to the UK, and the lack of a reciprocal health agreement is keeping some Guernsey residents prisoners on their own island. Before I get shot down by the deputies, this was on the table in 2009, I believe, and it was vetoed because it was a cash cow for the Board of Health. The problem was that the visitors never paid and no one chased them for the money.

Unprepared for personal nature of attacks... and what about airport car park?

I FULLY appreciate that when one writes to the Press, especially if the subject matter is in any way of a controversial nature, one is sticking one’s head above the parapet, as it were, and must be prepared to be shot at – but what I was totally unprepared for was to be personally attacked and ridiculed by contributors to the Your Shout website regarding my Aurigny complaint. So for the information of the particularly offensive anonymous ‘Beano’, I think I can safely say that in no way could I justifiably be described as a self-important, whingeing, incompetent businessman expecting special treatment.

Education members must seek re-election to earn their spot on committee

WHEN opening the general debate on the future structure of secondary education on 30 November, Deputy Le Pelley informed the Assembly that there remained ‘a difference of view’ across his Committee for Education, Sport & Culture about what type of selective or non-selective education system would best serve the Bailiwick. Just over a month before, he admitted on the radio that the divisions within his committee on this matter were a ‘bit more complicated than you might think’. He revealed that the split was not ‘three vs two, it’s two, one, one, one.’ And soon after that revelation it was disclosed that even he and Deputy David De Lisle, both staunch supporters of retaining selection, disagreed over their preferred method for revising the 11-plus test papers.

Education committee should have resigned

A BRIEF comment on the debate that will take place this week, which takes no account of the page in the Guernsey Press on Saturday 7 January in connection with a letter, as I have deliberately not read them. There is every reason for members of the States of Guernsey to bring a motion of no-confidence in a States committee if it is felt appropriate to do so. As a result of the majority of the current members of the Committee for Education, Sport & Leisure procrastinating over the implementation of States resolutions, and because they have stated so often that they do not agree with the one concerning non-selection at 11-plus, as well as the committee underperforming with regard to pre-school education and local management of schools, they should have resigned long since.

No ‘benefits’ from Flybe/Blue Islands franchise deal

I SEE from the Press that in the wake of the recent statement from the CI Competition and Regulatory Authority, Blue Islands’ Rob Veron is seeking to justify its franchise agreement with Flybe and again suggesting that this arrangement gives their passengers ‘substantial benefits’. (‘Passengers are the winners, says airline as it defends deal’, 17 December) Really, Mr Veron? What benefits are those, exactly? With return fares to Jersey ranging from £80 (if you are lucky) to upwards of £130 I don’t see how these two partners having a monopoly on the route benefits anyone. We should all be worried about this, whether or not we travel frequently to our sister island. This level of fares is having the effect of stifling inter-island travel, as can be seen from the high level of empty seats admitted previously by the airline, and is therefore having an adverse effect on commerce between the islands. Gone are the days when one would think about a break in Jersey, or for that matter the other way around.

Overseas Aid funds could be better spent at home

THE Guernsey Overseas Aid fund is currently at £2.6m. per year, which comes to about £43 for every man, woman and child in Guernsey. For a young family of four, say a plumber with a wife and two children, this adds up to about £170 per year after tax. Mr Plumber and family; this £170 is quietly just stolen from your taxes and you have no choice. The goal of our government is to provide basic needs for its people – sea walls, education, health, infrastructure, police and transport. I have spoken to many Guernsey people and they believe that the £2.6m. should be returned to the people to aid in bringing up their children, pensioners for food and heating, health support of mentally ill or those with chronic diseases. This would reduce the effects of tax that has been increased in so many areas to reduce the island deficit.

Lack of transparency from States? Look no further than the waste strategy

IN THE Guernsey Press of 3 January you have produced an article which was backed up by your editorial on the transparency of our States, or rather the lack of it. You made plain the fact that we were promised much more transparency in the machinery of our government some considerable time ago, but this has yet to come to fruition. Another article in the same edition covered our waste strategy and this is where the two different items come together. We, the general public, are not privy to the discussions concerning our waste, we are simply drip-fed little nuggets of information the appropriate deputies see fit to give us.

Police range is a work in progress

I HAVE just been told the following: The area in front of Fort Le Marchant that, in the summer was re-landscaped, ruining the area, so that the police could have a firing range, is, apparently, not able to be used for safety reasons. The cost of this procedure, I am told, was some £750,000, although this might be an exaggeration, building a bank for the marksmen to fire from, etc. The bank was built too high, so, should stray bullets go over the top of the fort and out to sea, they would be a danger to fishermen and pleasure craft.

How ‘Guern’ does a Guernseyman have to be?

MY ANCESTRAL association with Guernsey goes back to 1760 and probably further, the Gillingham family owned the Ship Inn, now known as the Mariners on the Bridge, St Sampson’s. My great-grandmother was born at the Dunes at Vazon. Her maiden name was Eliza Renouf Falla and her mother’s maiden name was Mauger. Eliza married into the Gillingham family. They brought up their family at Gilgo House in the Amballes along with some of their grandchildren, my father being one of them. His father lost his life at the end of the Second World War.

Late checking in, but Aurigny attitude upsets

I HAVE, in the past, always been a great supporter of Aurigny, having always found them courteous, helpful and accommodating. On one memorable occasion, when checking in for a Dinard flight, I realised that our ‘chaffeuse’ friend had driven off with a bag containing my passport; the staff of Aurigny could not have been more understanding and even delayed the flight by 20 minutes until the missing item was traced and returned. Contrast that with my experience on Wednesday last. I had planned a business visit to Alderney and had booked a seat on the 11.30 flight and left home in what I considered good time to check in by 11am.

An inconvenient tradition...

A FEW years ago I wrote to the Press speculating over the purpose of the mysterious strips of raised tarmac alongside some of our roads. Only recently I heard a rumour that these ‘pavements’ were originally a sort of primitive health and safety device, used by people to walk alongside passing traffic without fear of being horribly maimed. As these so-called pavements clearly have no relevance now, I was sceptical of this theory. I’ve been driving on them for as long as I can remember and no one, apart from the elderly lady whom I forced to dive into a hedge last week, has so much as batted an eyelid. But then, after some Googling, I found that in some places in the world (i.e. everywhere that isn’t Guernsey) they continue to pay a charming reverence to this quaint old tradition and reserve the use of their public footpaths exclusively for pedestrians.

Vote of no confidence a last resort

A VOTE of no confidence should be a last resort measure to be used if a person or group like a committee etc. has failed to deliver, not in case they might fail. So well done Education committee for not resigning.

It’s not too late to change waste strategy for better

I REFER to your editorial in the Guernsey Press of Saturday 17 December – and agree it is still not too late to do a U-turn with our waste plans. It is obvious to all but the politicians responsible that Jersey wants and indeed needs our waste to ensure the efficient running of its incinerator. It is also obvious that to move Guernsey’s waste the short distance across the sea to our sister island must be the most sensible option, both from a financial and an environmental perspective. There is a further incentive to avoiding formal exporting of waste to a foreign country and that is the need to build an expensive white elephant called a transfer station at a cost which has been indicated to be as much as £30m.-plus. That cost would, of course, increase dramatically when you take into account the costs of running the plant itself.

Deputy’s article was insensitive to elderly

ONE OF my friends asked me if I had read a recent article published in the Press written by brand-new deputy, Emily Yerby, ‘Diary of a new States member’. Well, I hadn’t bothered to read it actually and the paper had long since been recycled, but he insisted that I should read it, so I went and found the piece. I could not believe what I was reading. She began by saying that she wrote her manifesto (for the 2016 election) wrapped up in a blanket in a cold bed and breakfast in Edinburgh.

Let Education get on with ‘unenviable and uphill task’

AT THE outset Deputy Paul Le Pelley stated in the columns of the Press that he would see the States decision to its conclusion even if it wasn’t one with which he agreed. What short memories the States members and your headline writers have. Presumably Deputy Le Pelley was elected as Education, Sport & Culture president by his fellow States members because they had confidence in his ability to take on that role. He’d had first-hand experience in island schools, and had gained valuable experience during his time as a member of the previous States. During the 30 November debate on the future of Education many points were raised for, and against. I felt that Deputy Le Pelley spoke from the heart. He expressed his honest opinions in a direct manner and it is pitiable that a female deputy was shaken and a teachers’ union representative claimed that teachers had been insulted. Those who are/were taught in an educational establishment, whatever its fancy name, have a starting point for believing that they know about schools, education, and how they are run: from this knowledge an expert will pop up, who expands on their school and the educational system, whether it be praise or condemnation, depending on the size of the oak-tree-sized chip on their shoulder.

Not ‘elitist’ to want to keep our Grammar

A WHILE ago a then States deputy called us locals ‘inbreds’ and now, during the recent Education 11-plus debate, Deputy Michelle Le Clerc called us elitist bigots because we were educated at our Grammar School. I am a product of the 1950s Grammar School and take great exception to being referred to as some kind of upper class fellow looking down on others who went to different schools. We played sport with children from the other schools, made good friends with some of them, went dancing and socialising with them with not a hint of anyone being classed as superior because they attended the Grammar School. What planet is this woman on?

Setting in schools would benefit all

AS A regular reader of the Guernsey Press, qualified English teacher and proud Guernesiaise living in the UK, I know much has already been written on the subject of the recent vote in the States to abolish education selection at 11 (the ‘11-plus’). Although now residing in London, I was born and grew up on the island. I was fortunate to be able to take advantage of Guernsey’s state education system, attending first Amherst school and, from the age of 11, the Guernsey Grammar School. I now teach English as a foreign language. There is no doubt that the 11-plus is a crude instrument for separating those according to their academic ability.

After Salerie... Albecq needs safety barriers

SO, THE Salerie is finished, what next? How about erecting an Armco crash barrier around the Albecq headland? Another car went over the top and landed on the beach recently. Fortunately the driver escaped unhurt, but it’s only a matter of time before someone is killed. Perhaps Health and Safety should take a walk at the headland and imagine how easy it would be to miss the corners on a foggy night or a night when it lashes down with rain. When they have viewed the situation order the road closed until Armco barriers have been erected and chevrons painted on them. The cost would be a fraction of what the Salerie cost.

A lot of money spent on a simple project

I READ with utter amazement the fact that what should have been a very simple and straightforward alteration cost £130,000 rather than the £50,000 budgeted. I believe that the new system is sound and works well but cannot understand how such simple work should even have cost £50,000. It only serves to illustrate the incompetence of those involved, who should now consider their positions very carefully. If responsible politicians and civil servants cannot even budget properly for something as straightforward as this, how can they possibly be trusted with more complex matters?

What has happened to the ‘once lovable airline’, Aurigny?

I RECENTLY took a trip back to Guernsey, my birthplace, to visit my sick father and see my family and friends. My flight trip started from Cape Town, South Africa, which is where I live now. I travelled the over nine hours to Dubai, then the seven hours from Dubai to Gatwick. It was only when I landed at Gatwick at 7.20 in the morning I realised that I had to wait until 11.45 for my departure to my birth home. I had made this long layover just in case there were delays somewhere down the line.

Loss of Grammar will just lead to increased elitism

WE WERE extremely disappointed with the result of the education debate on Friday and with the comment that Deputy Le Pelley should resign over the matter. If all committee presidents were expected to resign when losing a vote, then none of them would be prepared to bring controversial propositions to the States. It is also difficult to understand that, if the report on the Channel News is correct, a deputy changed their vote at the last minute to force a decision when, otherwise, the votes would have been 20 to 20.