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Island Parish broadcast to depict reality

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THE BBC2 Island Parish series promises some rare and welcome positive publicity for Sark.

THE BBC2 Island Parish series promises some rare and welcome positive publicity for Sark.

The series principally features Anglican minister the Rev. Gill Nicholls, who left last month after a year at St Peter's Church, and Methodist lay pastor Karen Le Mouton – and I'm told both were scheduled to appear on BBC Breakfast yesterday morning.

Last night's programme was shown on the big screen at the Island Hall where the Carnival Committee was holding its annual cheque presentation night – an event arranged before the Island Parish programme schedule was made known.

The series will, I am sure, depict Sark in a manner which is light years removed from some recent comments, which painted a portrait of an island totally unrecognisable to many who actually live here.

On that subject, I find it strange that there remain people – even living in Guernsey – who think that Sark is somehow part of or even beholden in some respects to Guernsey.

One such commentator recently suggested that Sark be 'cut adrift' by Guernsey and left to fend for itself financially – something which, as was swiftly pointed out, it has done for almost 450 years.

It gets precious little from Guernsey and pays (sometimes through the nose) for services that island provides. As I pointed out when Sark was accused several years ago of being a parasite for getting its legislation drafted by the Law Officers, virtually everything used or consumed in Sark comes through Guernsey and thus provides profits for Guernsey businesses and tax income for its exchequer.

The larger island does nicely out of its smaller sister and gives little or nothing in return, other than patronising and often sanctimonious criticism that is frequently so ill-informed as to beggar belief.

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There can't be many places where almost 15% of the adult population will turn out in filthy weather in the middle of November to listen to a civil servant bang on about his job for an hour and a half.

That's what happened here earlier this week when Sark's Chamber of Commerce and La Societe Sercquaise joined forces to invite temporary Chief Secretary Colin Kniveton to a forum so that he could talk about his work as director of the Isle of Man's Department of Economic Development.

Two things will stick in my mind about Colin's talk and audience reaction. The first is his emphasis on the Isle of Man's superb 'we can – can do' ethos or philosophy and how the government links with the private sector to the mutual benefit of both.

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The second is the telling comment of audience member Conseiller Chris Nightingale who said, in effect, that Sark's biggest problem is that it suffers from a lack of confidence. To an extent there is little wonder, given how anyone who dares to open his or her mouth will, depending upon the point of view expressed, become a target for personal vilification.

As to the 'we can – can do' ethos, Sark's 28 conseillers could do a lot worse than examine how they and the committees on which they serve can adopt such a refreshing approach. Having just seen the list of more than 40 definitions of the Road Traffic Committee's tractor licensing code, I am minded to suggest a fortnight in the Isle of Man would do this committee the world of good.

Sark used to be run on a bit of a wing and a prayer and an abundance of common sense. The common sense aspect seems to have been tossed to one side in favour of a barrel of bureaucratic nonsense that will inhibit rather than enhance Sark's commercial activity.

I can feel the brickbats coming already, from one quarter or another.

* The email address for comment is fallesark@sark.net.

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