UK could step in over Sark governance

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CONCERNS about how Sark is run have escalated to such an extent that the threat of the UK government triggering an investigation now hangs over the island.

Lord Keen of UK Ministry of Justice. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 28456353)

The issue of how to improve governance was the subject of a high-level meeting in Sark on 19 February, minutes of which were published by The Sark Newspaper yesterday.

Attendees included Lord Keen, pictured, on behalf of the Ministry of Justice and Privy Council, Lt-Governor Vice Admiral Sir Ian Corder, Policy & Resources vice president Lyndon Trott, Jersey chief minister Ian Gorst and Sark’s Policy & Finance chairman Sam Le Trobe-Bateman, as well as top officials.

It was decided to begin work on creating a new senior civil service post of Sark chief executive officer, based in Guernsey, who would attend Chief Pleas and committee meetings offering advice.

‘For truly good government, there needs to be more checks and balances; and more resources. A more formal system of obtaining advice and support from Guernsey, or elsewhere, needs to be considered. This would in turn make the role of Chief Pleas more attractive to those standing for election: the executive burden would no longer be so great and politicians could concentrate on decision-making and planning for the future of the island,’ the minutes state.

Lord Keen has said that the current situation where the legislature also functions as an executive is not sustainable.

‘The lack of functioning civil service undermined democracy, as it left the legislature unable to deliver on its own mandate. What is needed is a long-term approach, whereas their current resources only allow for crisis management.’

The minutes also outline an ‘alternative solution’.

‘If an intra-Bailiwick solution could not be found, Lord Keen would need to consider requesting a Privy Council examination of Sark.

‘The reputational risk involved for all the Crown Dependencies and the UK government if something went seriously wrong on Sark was noted. He acknowledged that there is no doubt the people of Sark are resilient, ‘but things cannot go on as they are’.

The States and Chief Pleas have been approached for comment.

Nick Mann

By Nick Mann


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