Guernsey Press

St Sampson’s votes to buy property with rectory funds

ST SAMPSON’S ratepayers have voted to buy property using the money raised by the sale of the parish rectory.

St Sampson's rectory in 2019, the year before it was sold by the parish. (30712775)

Douzenier Rob Gill said that the decision to call the vote was based on the rising prices of property and inflation in the island.

The parish sold its rectory in 2020 for £750,000. A listed building, it was not possible for it to be converted into flats.

Mr Gill said that parishioners voted for this money to be ring-fenced in the parish’s accounts.

The reason the money was kept back was because although parishes are allowed to sell rectories, with Church approval, they are still obliged to provide accommodation for a rector if requested.

‘We’ve got this money in the bank but we can’t invest it anywhere and get a good return,’ said Mr Gill.

‘Real estate prices are going up, inflation is going up. We need to put our money somewhere that it’s not dwindling.’

At its meeting earlier this month, which was attended by the Dean, the Very Rev. Tim Barker, the parish put the issue to the vote: ‘The constables and douzaine, mindful of the current boom in real estate values and the very low interest rates available for monies on deposit, feel the funds received from the sale of the rectory should be invested in real estate,’ ratepayers were told.

The vote was to approve the purchase of one or two units of real estate as investment properties.

‘These may not comply with the requirements of a future rector or be in St Sampson’s.’

It was passed by 17 to one, with Mr Barker among the supporters.

Parishes were given the right to sell their rectories – subject to Church approval – after a report from the former Parochial Ecclesiastical Rates Review Committee in 2014.

Mr Gill said that the report did not address the issue of the parish being obliged to provide a home for the rector.

PERRC was dissolved in 2016 and unresolved matters, such as a parish’s remaining obligations, were left in the hands of Policy & Resources.

‘We’ve been waiting for a policy letter from Policy & Resources to resolve this,’ said Mr Gill.

The last St Sampson’s rector was willing to live elsewhere, but should a new rector be appointed the situation at the moment is that the parish could be obliged to find accommodation for them.

St Peter Port gave its rectory back to the Church several years ago and Mr Gill said this was one option for dealing with the matter.

A P&R spokesman said that States members met representatives of the Douzaine Council recently to discuss the need to review the legislation around parish rectories: ‘Following that meeting, the parishes are having further discussions on options which will ultimately inform a future policy letter,’ he said.

It was not possible to give a time frame for this at present.

‘This workstream will of course need to be progressed against other competing States priorities.’