Campaign needed to save Liberation Day

GOODBYE Liberation Day. Or at least the annual big celebration in Town. Why? Because the Committee for Education, Sport and Culture has unilaterally decided that such a celebration will take place every fifth year.

Rather than fulfilling its obligations of ‘the planning and implementing of appropriate arrangements to mark the island’s celebration of Liberation Day including religious services’, it prefers a cheque-writing exercise. A ‘new format’ of ‘give the money and responsibility to others’. The others in this case being the parish constables and douzaines – organisations that have no mandate to organise these events – whether they want to or not.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against any parish doing their own local celebrations or the third parties that organised events. Those that have done so these past couple of years are to be applauded. If money can be spared then I see no reason why this should not continue. However, not to the detriment of an island-wide Town celebration.

I was party to one of ESCs ‘Wash-up’ meetings to gauge parish feeling on last year’s celebrations. Quite an unsatisfactory meeting it was, as it had already been assumed that next year’s celebrations would be along the lines of last year’s i.e. the ‘new format‘ of parish-based events.

In a recent Press there was an article promoting a survey that has been commissioned by ESC to gauge the views of islanders on this subject.

I took a look at the survey and was not at all impressed. I’m afraid that like many other States surveys it has been designed to reach a predetermined conclusion, this being that those surveyed prefer local parish celebrations. The question that was not asked (and should have been the first) is along the lines of ‘do you prefer or want an annual island-wide Liberation Day celebration in Town’? Without this question, I would say that the survey was not only biased but also that any conclusion is meaningless. Am I being cynical in thinking that this survey is merely a box-ticking exercise? And at a cost to us. I believe that I read somewhere that the cost of the survey is £7,200.

The article has a quote from Deputy Dudley-Owen as saying ‘the committee was still to wash-up on events, but it was looking like big Town closures for celebrations would happen only on quinquennial years, with the next possibility due in 2025’. This is an interesting statement especially coming before the results of the survey have been published. It is obvious that ESC has unilaterally decided that they will not be fulfilling their mandate to organise annual Island-wide Liberation Day celebrations but rather to devolve this responsibility to the parishes. They will deign to do so only every fifth year, possibly. Note that in 2025 the Town celebration is stated only as a possibility.

The second line of the survey is also interesting. ‘Your feedback will help inform preparations that are already under way for 2023, and for future years’. Are you aware of this? Who among us is aware of any preparations under way or otherwise? I certainly am not.

I fear that ESC is off-loading its responsibility onto the parishes. Should next year’s celebrations be disappointing to islanders, who will take the blame? Certainly not ESC.

Once Liberation Day goes, it will be gone forever. I know that I am not alone in this point of view. What’s needed is a joined-up approach to defend Liberation Day. Which States Deputies will step forward to lead us in a campaign to save Liberation Day?

John Gillson

SaveLiberationDay@gmail.com

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