St Andrew's must keep school say candidates

ST ANDREW'S School must be kept open, according to all the candidates at Friday night's South-East district hustings.

Keeping St Andrew's school open was one subject on which all the South-East candidates agreed.
Keeping St Andrew's school open was one subject on which all the South-East candidates agreed.

ST ANDREW'S School must be kept open, according to all the candidates at Friday night's South-East district hustings.

The lively debate covered many different aspects of island life including whether the island should go independent, how to stop underage teenagers from drinking and what should be in the transport strategy.

But the candidates agreed on one issue - the parish primary school.

St Andrew's School faced closure during the last States term as part of cost-cutting measures.

But all the candidates agreed that the school needed to stay open to keep alive the parish community.

  • IT WAS standing room only at the West's second hustings. Having initially allowed for only around 100 chairs, more were needed as the school hall at Le Rondin filled with around 200 people.

Comments for: "St Andrew's must keep school say candidates"

pyer

What else would you expect a candidate for that district to say?

It is inevitable that the school will have to close, (and all staff transferred to the Beaucamps site in a supervisory role)

Martino

Yes, it is inevitable that the school will have to close and hopefully the successful candidates will 'change their minds' once they are in power and they see the irresistible evidence for closing it.

Although I have always doubted the 'workability' of Island Wide Voting, one of the positive aspects, once IWV is in place, is that 'parish' or district deputies will no longer be held to electoral ransom by well organised little campaign groups who act against the wider island interest.

Nearly all the south west deputies voting against the airport runway redevelopment was another good example. To me there is no such thing as a 'parish issue' - only an island or a Bailiwick issue.

rosie

Why is it inevitable?

Questor

I understand there are hundreds of spare places in primary schools. If this is indeed the case, as a taxpayer I can't believe that leads to an efficient operation, so surely there will have to be closures somewhere...?

Martino

It's surplus to requirements.

Spartacus

Rosie

Because it's a rational proposal to make drastic savings in view of the falling primary school pupil numbers.

rosie

Are they falling in St Andrews? I heard they were rising.

I think it is a false economy to shut small community primary schools where children can learn the habit of walking to school and where small pupil numbers ensures that children are less intimidated by the school experience and therefore more likely to engage with, and delight in the learning process. A small school where both children and teachers know the names of everyone in the school is going to encourage pupils to feel a sense of belonging and therefore safety, and it is also going to foster the right environment for early detection of any child that might be suffering / struggling / unhappy for whatever reason. Early detection benefits the child as well as the community in general.

A child's school career is 13/14 yrs long - that's a long time! It is vital that they are not put off the education process before it has hardly begun. Starting school in a small nurturing environment close to the child's home I think is going to give them a better start than being ferried into a large school in a different parish.

I think that spending more money on primary education ensures that children reach secondary school having had the best start and preparation so they will be more likely to achieve the optimum result from the education system. I think it is a case of spending early to save more costs later on obesity, truancy, educational difficulties, behavioural and anti-social problems.

There are other ways that we could be saving money, primarily by reducing the size and frequency of over-specified projects, instead returning to a system of better on-going maintenance of our infrastructure. As Yvonne has already pointed out, the airport is a good example, where many millions could have been saved.

Martino

This is all desperate stuff Rosie. As one who campaigns relentlessly against waste why can you not accept that it is a total waste of money and resources and energy to keep on going with this inefficient, outdated school BUILDING that is NOT NEEDED. It is not a false economy to get rid - it is a very real economy!

Spartacus

Rosie

I don't think the issue is in which parish the numbers are falling but that numbers are falling overall so that there are surplus school places overall and it makes sense to amalgamate the facilities.

As an analogy, it would not be prudent for a two child family who are strapped for cash to live in a five bed mansion even though that might be more comfortable, putting food on the table would be a priority.

I don't think the benefits you describe would be lost, Guernsey is a very small island and catchment areas can be easily adjusted.

Mulkerrin's review of primaries describes an overall healthy picture and even he endorses a primary closure.

Mulkerrin's idea about providing pre school opportunities to those who are currently disadvantaged perhaps appropriately solves the problem you have identified.

Yes there are other ways of saving money and there will be painful cutbacks in all areas you'll see. Closing a primary school is deemed one of the least painful measures.

pyer

Rosie

In a roundabout way are you saying that all primary schools should be split up into smaller units, and dotted around the parish?

Yvonne Burford - Candidate for the West

Martino, I'm afraid I don't accept that the airport runway was a NIMBY issue for the West deputies. Whilst it is possible that the proximity of the airport may have engaged them to delve deeper than others, in my view the principal issue regarding the airport was one of over-specification and therefore of cost. Surely spending £££millions unnecessarily is an island-wide issue.

Martino

Yes Yvonne, I agree that the needless spending of £millions should be an island wide issue. You may also be right that the project now in hand is over specified (I don't have the technical knowledge to know either way). However, the fact remains that this message did not get through to the vast majority of States members from outside your district. The deputies of the south east, Town, Vale, St Sampson's and Castel voted almost unanimously in favour of the project while nearly all of the western deputies voted against. The only conclusion one can draw is that the western deputies were covering their arses in the face of a very well orchestrated localised campaign that simply did not connect with the rest of the island.

Yvonne Burford - Candidate for the West

You see Martino, I feel that whilst that is possibly the easiest conclusion one can draw, unlike you I don't think that is the only conclusion one can draw and indeed I don't think it is correct.

If one studies 'nimbyism' academically, in detail, it becomes apparent that cases of true nimbyism are far fewer than popular thought would hold. The popular use of the accusation is often an easy way of dismissing something and ignores the fact that people living closer to a development are more likely to research it, even if such research is prompted by a fear of loss of amenity. If they fail to discover anything at fault with the project, other than ‘I don’t want it’, their argument will become self-limiting very quickly

It was extremely unfortunate that the anti-airport expansion debate was split by a wholly unwise latching on to the EMAS alternative, as this overshadowed the fundamental argument of the entire issue which was not “what could we have instead of 240m grass RESAs” but “do we need 240m grass RESAs, or equivalent, in the first place”. Amazingly, the report PSD commissioned in the hope of undermining the EMAS argument stated more than once the blindingly obvious observation that, irrespective of EMAS, a CAA risk assessment of what length of grass RESA would be needed should have been undertaken. It was not. This was lost in the ongoing clamour for EMAS.

Of course I am in no position to say categorically why the deputies of other districts largely supported the project, but after the mishandling of the solid waste project, the fear of being seen as indecisive especially ahead of an election may have had something to do with it. I came late to the discussion and even, as I was, armed with a working knowledge of RESA EMDA TODA and other arcane runway length descriptors, I still put in many hours to uncover what I believe to have been the issues. I would also imagine that many deputies looked to people they trusted to know more about a complex issue for voting guidance, or maybe they just decided, in their view, that we were too far down the road to change.

Martino

Hi Yvonne, first thing to say is that I never mentioned 'Nimbyism' in this particular thread. The word I would prefer to use is parochialism and, whatever the rights and wrongs of the airport project (you know much more about it than I do), what I do see is a pattern of parochial block voting - with regard both to the airport runway and also the St Andrew's school building.

I must admit I'm not so interested in the airport project now - even though you MAY be right in that it is over specified. That one is dusted and is going ahead whether we like it or not. The school building is an entirely different matter and the case for closing it is so clear cut that no rational case can be made for keeping it open.

rosie

There is no surprise in the fact that people are bound to be more interested in issues that are happening on their doorstep that might effect them directly, and that will lead them to look more deeply into what is happening. If it is not happening on your doorstep, it is only too easy to turn a blind eye since most people don't want to get involved if they can help it..... everyone is too busy just getting through the day and dealing with their own problems to devote the considerable amount of time needed to wage a successful campaign. Better to remain in blissful ignorance.

Unfortunately, I don't think the campaign was run very well.... infact I don't think there really was much of a campaign at all. But some people did write repeatedly on this website about the over-spend and the concerns were ignored by just about everyone including you. The over-spend, as you agree, should be an island-wide issue but because everyone was so busy pointing fingers and shouting NIMBY, the concerns were ignored. Sadly- the EMAS debate totally deflected everyones attention from the real issue- that of the whole project being bigger than it needed to be.

Martino

I accept much of what you say here Rosie. EMAS did cloud the issue and when it was presented as 'the alternative' to the PSD proposals I did a bit of Internet research and concluded that EMAS would not be any better in environmental terms or cost terms. Then I fell into the 'let's just get on with it camp' and I was by no means the only one.

Re St Andrew's School I do know much more and it is a much easier issue to grasp when it is not clouded by the sort of emotive claptrap spouted by the 'save our school' mob. The last time it was presented to the States I read the Billet and the numbers and the demographics made it for me an open and shut case. Did you read that Billet at the time?

Rosie

Martino.

The EMAS debate might have been an unnecessary distraction but alongside those that were raising that argument, there were several of us trying to make you see that the project was over spec'd for the reasons Yvonne has eloquently explained below and it was therefore going to be much more costly than it needed to be. You along with others refused to listen. It was blindingly obvious then and it is even more blindingly obvious now, that those who clamoured for the airport project to go through in it's entirety, would later demand cost cutting on softer targets to make up the deficit such large projects are creating. I said as much at the time.

Martino

It's not a question of soft targets Rosie. Waste is waste is waste and you should know that better than anyone else. It's blindingly obvious in fact. Or at least it should be.

rosie

I agree Martino, which is why it is so frustrating that those who now profess to want to tackle the deficit, were quite happy to allow an unnecessarily extravagant project to go through that not only would be a waste of money but also a waste of our limited and precious rural land.

Guernsey was once a beautiful island but each time we urbanise another tranche of our rural land, we contribute a bit more to the demise of the goose that laid the golden egg..... what is that if not a waste?

Ray

Are we going to go through every point in that old debate again?

Watch my lips ....

T-h-e d-e-c-i-s-i-o-n h-a-s b-e-e-n m-a-d-e

T-h-e c-o-n-t-r-a-c-t h-a-s b-e-e-n s-i-g-n-e-d

T-h-e w-o-r-k h-a-s b-e-g-u-n

F-l-o-u-q-u-e-t h-a-s b-e-e-n s-a-c-k-e-d

Ill informed

Yvonne, the West deputies have been noticeable by their absence when campaigns against town eyesore developments have sought their support.

jack

but Yvonne - it was lead by the western deputies, or rather a posse from the wild west - I expect more from my elected representatives than some of the behaviour / traits of the last four years. Hopefully you may be a breath of fresh air (thanks for the response to the emails and you have our votes) Jack

Fermain

It sounds like tha answer is to Close St andrews as a primary and turn it into a pre-school once the funding is there.

Yvonne Burford - Candidate for the West

Martino,

Thanks for pulling the debate back on topic.

Diveboy

And to take it off topic again, here we are yet again with the environmentalists all claiming that the airport project has been over-specified by countless millions.

Why? Because they don't win lots of friends/votes with an environmental argument. Make it about cost though, and everyone will sit up and listen!

So they say their preferred schemes, whatever those may be, would have cost significantly less. It seems logical, but look for the single shred of evidence. It;s lacking.

So to reality. All the debate was really about what to do at either end of the runway (including but not solely EMAS). Whatever you do there probably has a marginal impact on the overall project cost. The bulk of it is the huge amounts of work required on the current airfield.

To put it another way, if you go out to buy a Ford Focus the salesman isn't going to give you money off because you want to have it fitted with the bumpers of your clapped out old Fiesta.

So tinkering around with the bits at either end of the runway would not save the many millions campaigners keep promising/alleging.

To claim otherwise is either deluded or deceitful.

Yvonne Burford - Candidate for the West

Briefly, what you do at either end has significant cost. The PSD scheme has entailed physically shifting the runway west, with all the domino effects that involves, including (but by no means limited to) repositioning the link taxiway and lighting and filling in a valley.

No-one is saying that there was not considerable work to be done at the airport, but what level do you think a financial saving would have been worth going for?

£10m? £20m? more?

Diveboy

What level of financial saving would have been worth going for? Personally, I'd look at any financial saving, and weigh it up against whatever potential trade-offs there are to assess if they were worth going for. And I'd start much lower than £10 million. Closer to £10.

BUT, you've simply illustrated my point again. Just quoting figures of £10 million or £20 million with absolutely no justification. Just plucked out the air for appeal.

I accept your point about shifting the runway and linking up the new end etc is perfectly valid. The point though is that you haven't defined the scheme that you have in mind which doesn't involve shifting the runway. If it is just leave it where it is, from what I've heard that was a non-starter. So if you have to move it you have a cost involved, whether it is 5 metres or 50 metres.

The same applies to your other claims - how much does filling in a valley cost? Are you actually suggesting £20 million? Otherwise why mention that figure?

Lastly, you must really take me for an idiot to phrase the question the way you have. Do I think £20 million would be worth saving? Of course I do. Simply because I have a different view, doesn't make me an imbecile.

Yvonne Burford - Candidate for the West

The point I'm trying to make, and perhaps not very well, is that no risk assessment was sought to see what the minimum RESA required was. In my view that was a major oversight. Without that information it is impossible to say how much money could have been saved, but the further into the western valley we needed to go, the greater the cost.

My reference to what figure you would have considered it worth re-tendering the project for was in response to your comment about the possible cost difference being marginal and no offence was intended.

diveboy

You say no risk assessment was sought, but someone has clearly made a judgement as to what the appropriate level of risk is. Whether that qualifies as risk assessment in your book I have no idea, but I do know that whoever made that judgement was far better qualified than I (and possibly you) to assess where the appropriate balance is. And I am sure their decision must have been scrutinised by someone.

Your argument also presupposes your proposed risk assessment would have come up with a different and cheaper solution, because you made a very strong assertion that it would have saved tens of millions.

So here's a question for you. Had a scheme come along which ticked all the environmental boxes, but the risk assessment said was slightly more risky and also cost an extra £1 million, would you have supported that.

Yvonne Burford - Candidate for the West

Diveboy,

When major airfield work (resurfacing, drainage and runway reprofiling in this case) is undertaken, the operator is obliged to reconsider the RESA lengths. We had 90m RESAs. The minimum acceptable in any situation is 90m and the maximum ever required is 240m.

If an operator wishes they can have a risk assessment done which takes into account local factors (accident history, number and type of movements, etc) and which comes up with a figure of between 90m and 240m, appropriate for that particular airfield. Or an operator can simply decided to adopt 240m as a default as this covers all cases. This may be an appropriate course of action for an airfield surrounded by open, unused land.

However this latter option is largely the route that Guernsey took. Towards the end of the process PSD applied to slightly reduce one end and clip the corner on the other, but no original assessment on the minimum length required, consistent with safety, was done.

I'm afraid, I can't answer your last point, because for me this is primarily a financial and land use issue, not an environmental one.

Yvonne Burford - Candidate for the West

Here is my last word on this subject:

PSD did commission a review from Halcrow (Appendix 2 of the 2009 States Report) but that report simply assumed a 240m RESA would provide the minimum acceptable safety standard. Mott McDonald dismissed this (p.40), saying there was no 'strong reason' to make such an assumption.

russm

The decision on not asking for a dispensation on the length of the RESA seems to have been made solely by BF and such an option was never put to the States as it should have been. The States then rolled over and this has cost the island multi-millions and hopefully will be the reason BF loses his seat today. I decided not to vote for certain deputies today based on their voting on both the incinerator and airpot issues.

diveboy

So, you start off basing your whole argument on the 'fact' that no risk assessment was done, and as a result the project is costing tens of millions more than necessary - albeit with no evidence to back up the claim. Now you appear to have checked and admit that a risk assessment was done (call it a 'review' if you like), undermining what was already a pretty flimsy case.

And that is also my last word on the matter.

Guern abroad

Guernsey took the easy option and plumpted for maximun requirement is best.

There was no real negotiation with the CAA that I could establish with what I could find, we did not make use of the opportunities afforded by a proper assesment of all facts and local factors to enable reasonable adjustments to be accepted. Also in the more recent MottMcDonald report, whist a hefty read was worth reading.

Dave Jones

Martino

I wanted the EMAS system just on the grounds of safety, soft grass bed RESA’S can and do rip off the undercarriage putting passengers lives at significant risk of fire from ruptured fuel tanks. On the other hand the collapsing block system does not rip the undercarriage from the aircraft and the risk of fire is therefore significantly reduced.

My other reason for supporting EMAS at the time was the recovery time of damaged aircraft as we have a single runway this is hugely important. With a soft grass RESA it would be impossible to get heavy lifting equipment near the plane without building a temporary road for cranes etc.

With EMAS the plane can be towed backwards and cleared from the area getting the runway open again much sooner.

Your point about the “lets get on with it camp” is well made and talking to many deputies just prior to the debate, that was very much the message. In the end I went with that group, as it was clear PSD had made its choice and my insistence that EMAS be revisited would have led to more delay with no certainty that the States would support it in the end anyway.

russm

PSD made the choice and presented the States with a limited choice of options, the same as they did with the incinerator - BF only supports projects that cost multi-millions. The States as a whole should make the choice not BF.

Paul Le Page

Turkeys and Christmas springs to mind with this issue. Every candidate in that district would have been well aware that to support the closure of St Andrews school was to effectively scupper any chance of election.

That's why we need IWV. This issue needs to be addressed from an island wide perspective. Parish (or even district) politics worked 100 years ago when people from Torteval never went "up north" - in today's Guernsey however it's simply a waste of time.

Martino

Well said Paul Le Page.

Gsyman

Hear hear! Totally agree we need Island Wide Voting. Supporting the closure of St Andrew's school would be political suicide for candidates in that district, the issues at stake are far wider than that for our elected representatives.

simon

was this very issue not the begining of the end for president steer?

A.J.

If we had really wanted to save open land in Guernsey, then attempts should have been made years ago to build the Airport on stilts across L'ancresse, where there would have been less interruption from fog, and far less noise pollution.But now this is never likelt to happen.