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Unemployment comments fuel discontent

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MY REFERENCE last week to unemployment and the somewhat callous way in which I'd heard of how one conseiller had suggested dealing with it spawned a flurry of comment.

MY REFERENCE last week to unemployment and the somewhat callous way in which I'd heard of how one conseiller had suggested dealing with it spawned a flurry of comment.

Sadly, some of it was based on what people thought they'd read (or, as I suspect is often the case, judging by some inane comments, what they'd had read to them) and missed the point entirely.

My comment referred specifically to Sarkees – someone raised here who has lived in Sark for at least most of their life – and not to those recruited from elsewhere by Sark Estate Management. What appalled me was that a conseiller allegedly said that if a Sarkee had worked for a SEM company they should not be helped or employed by the island.

As one reader pointed out, there are those Sarkees whose employers were bought up by SEM. Should not they be offered work, if there is any, if they've been tossed aside? It really is stupid comments such as those the conseiller is alleged to have made that perpetuate the division and discontent that others have created and continue to fuel.

On a side issue, I find it strange indeed that in the very week in which many of its staff were made redundant, the island's largest employer was advertising at least 10 Sark job vacancies on an official States of Jersey employment website. They have since been removed.

Returning to unemployment – something which is a well-established feature of many island communities that rely principally on seasonal employment – I was pleased with the reaction I received to my suggestion that it's time Chief Pleas started some infrastructure projects that need doing.

Several conseillers got it touch to express agreement with a couple of them suggesting a winter work scheme. Seeing that much of the beauty of Sark is best viewed on foot, there are paths, lanes and even roads that could do with more tender loving care than they've had in recent times.

As other locations have established over and over again, networks of lanes where pedestrians have legal priority over vehicles, along with footpaths through scenic woods and along cliffs, will, if properly established and maintained, actually benefit the wider economy as they encourage day trippers to return – and for longer.

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Within the last day or so I have learned that a series of informal gatherings – mostly in private houses – has been taking place between conseillers and small groups of residents, principally but not exclusively to discuss employment issues.

Additionally, for a couple of hours between 10.30 and 12.30 tomorrow morning, Conseiller Hazel Fry will be in situ at Kristina Southern's La Petite Poule eatery to listen to residents' views on anything to do with Sark.

However, it's not all doom and gloom. Vanessa Clarke last year extended her hairdressing salon and a week ago she opened yet another addition to the business – a beauty salon.

I am reliably informed by those who frequent such places that I can now get anything from a manicure to a massage, not to mention a spray tan and some waxing along the way.

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

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