Guernsey Press

Herm lease extended, but cost not revealed

AN EXTENSION to the lease for Herm agreed in September 2017 was never made public, a deputy involved in the negotiations has confirmed.

(Picture By Peter Frankland, 31953851)

And even today it is still not known how much was paid for it.

Previously the lease, agreed in 2008, was due to expire in 2048, but a Policy & Resources spokesman said that, following negotiations between the tenants of Herm, the Starboard Settlement Charitable Trust, and the States’ Trading Supervisory Board, the department then responsible for the lease, an extension of just under 21 years was agreed, with the lease now set to expire in December 2069.

Charles Parkinson, who was president of the STSB at the time of the negotiations, said that the agreement had been reached so as to maintain a good relationship with the current tenants.

‘The agreement reached was based on a commitment from the tenants to continue to invest money into the island and to improve its infrastructure,’ he said.

When asked why no public announcement regarding the extension had been made, Deputy Parkinson said that the States had more than 3,000 properties within its portfolio and so did not consider it worthy of an announcement.

A previous attempt to negotiate an extension broke down in 2013, with the two parties differing widely over the value of the extra 21 years.

The tenants estimated it to be worth £440,000, while the States’ figure was £6m. This was lowered to £2.44m., with conditions regarding infrastructure improvements, but no agreement could be reached at the time.

Deputy Parkinson added that Herm was not a gold mine and barely made any money. He said that the tenants had wanted the lease extended due to concerns about the viability of their future investment into the island.

‘The tenants told us that they did not want to spend if there was a chance that they would have to hand it all back sooner than they wished. We wanted them to invest and thought it necessary to keep them engaged.’

Deputy Parkinson said that States approval was not needed on leases less than 21 years in length. He did not wish to disclose the figure paid by the tenants, but said that they considered Herm to be a ‘labour of love’.

‘The agreement helps keep the relationship orderly. Any profits they do make are ploughed back into the island. It works well for both parties,’ he said.

Deputy Gavin St Pier, who was president of Policy & Resources at the time the agreement was reached, said that he had no recollection of hearing about an extension being agreed.

‘It was a matter for the STSB and so did not cross my desk,’ he added.

Starboard Settlement chairman John Singer declined to comment when approached.