Opposition to St Peter Port rates is dropped
OPPOSITION to St Peter Port constables’ effort to have this year’s rates changes approved has come to an end after it was withdrawn in the Ordinary Division of the Royal Court.
Douzenier Rosie Henderson had opposed the approval of the St Peter Port remede last week.
The constables wanted to levy £734,268 by way of occupiers’ rate plus £625,696 for refuse collection.
Following a further meeting of the douzaine, the constables were back in court to seek approval. Mrs Henderson was also back and said she still wished to oppose the move.
Deputy Bailiff Jessica Roland had told Mrs Henderson at the previous court sitting that if she wanted to oppose the rates it would have to be done before the Full Court.
Bailiff Richard McMahon reiterated that and said that at least seven jurats would have to sit and they would decide whether the opposition was valid.
However, he pointed out that if they decided that the remede was valid, they could also decide to levy court costs against the person opposing it.
‘So that’s a risk for you if you want to raise opposition,’ he said.
Mrs Henderson said she did not oppose the remede as such but was concerned at the rates’ impact on parishioners struggling financially as a result of the pandemic lockdown. ‘We are saying these charges are justified and I can’t in good conscience say that they are justified,’ she said.
Advocate Peter Ferbrache, for the constables, said that if someone had trouble paying, arrangements could be made to help them.
Mr McMahon pointed out that the rates had been approved by a majority of douzeniers present at the meetings held to discuss them. ‘Majority decisions are the bedrock of democratic decisions at parish level and higher,’ he said later.
After considering the situation for a few minutes, Mrs Henderson said she would drop her opposition and the rates were duly approved by Mr McMahon. She said she did not think her husband would be happy ‘spending seven grand just to prove a point’.
‘I became a douzenier because I wanted to serve the parish and I still want to and that’s why I was bringing this objection,’ said Mrs Henderson afterwards.
‘I can’t do any more. It’s a shame, but that’s the way it is.’
Mrs Henderson said her feeling was that this year is going to very difficult for a lot of people and it seemed wrong to impose these rates.
‘They say they can be paid off over time, but it’s still a debt,’ she said.