Guernsey Press

New Sark douzaine after heated debate

Sark has a new douzaine after its chairman was ousted following a heated vote of no confidence debate in Chief Pleas.

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The committee fell apart last month when six members resigned, unhappy at the leadership of chairman Frank Makepeace, who was the only member left.

Nine of the island’s 17 conseillers signed a motion of no confidence ahead of Wednesday’s meeting.

Paul Armorgie, the speaker of Chief Pleas, called the meeting one of the ‘most angry’ he had attended in almost 25 years of involvement in Sark’s government, as tempers frayed when Conseiller Makepeace refused to stand down.

‘It was a rancorous agenda item and there were accusations flying back and forth between members. I had to call for order merely to keep the item on track,’ said Mr Armorgie.

‘Unfortunately Conseiller Makepeace had clearly lost the confidence of the douzaine, as the other members had resigned because of his chairmanship.’

Conseiller Makepeace argued that the motion should be thrown out ‘to defend the democratic values our forefathers fought for’.

‘I believe the letter of no confidence has been edited to besmirch my character and influence the signatories,’ he said.

He accused Conseillers Ben Harris and Edric Baker of conspiring to remove the chairman of any committee who contemplated closer links with Guernsey.

‘This is not a vote of no confidence,’ he said.

‘It is a vote on whether we want to be governed by people who live on Sark, or from beach bars in Ibiza or leather couches in Camden.’

The motion of no confidence was approved by 13 votes to two.

Eight candidates were put forward for the seven vacant seats, including Conseiller Makepeace, who appeared to have lost none of his enthusiasm despite the bruising debate.

But he withdrew his nomination when it was clear he lacked support and the seven other candidates were elected.

The new members were due to meet yesterday evening to elect a new chairman and vice-chairman.

More than 50 people packed the public gallery for the meeting. Space was so tight that some were forced to stand in an adjoining cloakroom.

Conseiller Tony Le Lievre is among the new members of the douzaine.

‘It was quite a tense meeting. We spent an hour-and-a-quarter to sort out the vote of no confidence,’ he said.

‘Conseiller Makepeace was given his chance to say his piece.

'He made several allegations of impropriety by those who had put their names to the vote of no confidence.

‘But, ultimately, no one was prepared to re-populate the douzaine while he was chairman, so it was a fait accompli.

‘But this is not about Conseiller Makepeace. It is about having a douzaine committee up and running.’

Speaking after he was ousted, Conseiller Makepeace, who remains on Chief Pleas as a conseiller, said he had used his public platform to tell Sark taxpayers the truth.

‘Just when you thought the murky world of Sark politics couldn’t stoop lower,’ he said.

He added he had submitted a number of code of conduct complaints regarding the rental of properties owned by Chief Pleas by other conseillers.

‘How can it be £25 to rent an electric bicycle, but yet you can rent the Old Island Hall for £23 a week?’ he asked.