Little Rant

November 10, 2010 at 10:05 pm. Letters to Media.

Douzaines must (adapt or die )
This is an interesting article from somebody who has not, as far as l know, served as a parish official or on a douzaine.
It is very rewarding, that Mr Roffey has so much admiration for, douzaine members, who serve their parish “free”.
It is good to know in my opinion, that with friends like Mr. Roffey, who needs enemies.
Quote: “There is no doubt the parish system is struggling to retain its relevance as modern life changes and services are more rationally organised on an island-wide basis. I question whether this statement is correct.”
It must be after this quote; Mr. Roffey would be in favour of island-wide voting as well.
What are the douzaines accused of past and present?One point that should be made and l make no farther comment, since the writer keeps mentioning “democratic”, that in the Harwood report on the Machinery of Government a poll did say, 75% of the people wanted to retain the douzaine rep.
What do the douzaines do?
He does admire us, checking hedges aren’t blocking public highway, douits running freely and beautifying their bits of the island (l say Parish).
I would also add, we are unpaid advisers, and consultants and in most cases the first person phoned, when there is a problem. It is often said, that Deputies are sometimes difficult to get an answer from, and do not always call back. We also use our local knowledge and wider business experience for the good of the island and parish.
We also on behalf of parishioners, have occasions to phone, States Dept. to get things done, it sometimes takes a lot of persuasion, and our effort and time.
There is now a large ground swell of opinion that we should use local expertise and knowledge rather than imported expensive consultants.
This brings me back to my douzaine meeting at the end of each month, with one attending Deputy; we discuss the latest States billets and give our advice and expertise. After this when the Deputy has left, we do the parish affairs etc.
I do not except now as he seems to imply, that we are old fashioned, but are just a normal cross section of members of the public, who wish to put, our range of experience to the good of our parish and our island, as best we can.
Who is in on my douzaine?
I can only let you know, the compositing of my members, an owner of a large Tourist Establishment, ex banker and Deputy Retired, financial service workers, retired top Guernsey civil servant, retired people, self employed, employed, ex growers and retailers. They are people who not only have a combined 400years plus, in this parish and Guernsey, but also have a commitment, with children and grandchildren for the future.
They have a great range of local and international knowledge, which can be used for the benefit of the Island and the parish “free.”
It is fair to say we are not parochial any more, as you can see by the range of expertise that is in the douzaine. It may be that the writer may need a rethink on some of his views.
My douzaine has had a very busy year so far, and apart from the normal work, we have had a new green lane to repair and open, a weeklong memorial to Denys Corbet, various disputes and numerous other things all done “ free,“ saving taxpayers hard earned money.
The parishioners of the 10 parishes, l believe like the individuality, and does not want to move to a totalitarian Island Government.
It may be that, we have gone this way too much over the last 15 years, and have not used the douzainiers and locals with knowledge, but may have been guilty of reckless and incompetent spending, by Deputies, who business experience in some cases, is weak, to say the least.
Sunday Opening.
The 10 douzaines had differing views, but with possibly 140 members, you could only expect that.
You often saw the 47 states members, voting though some important issue, by one vote. With some members admitting afterwards, that they were not sure what they voted for, and may have made a mistake.
On the Sunday opening I will declare, that l was never in favour of this, apart from tourist related.
It was my belief, it would bring more people into the island, to enable shops to open longer and later, causing more related problems by this.
One of the biggest side issues, to this now, is late night shops selling cheap alcohol, unknowingly to the irresponsible persons, and then what happens around the parishes and town, because of this. All sorts of anti social behaviour that will have to be tackled, sooner rather than later.
Minor Planning Applications.
I would say there is a feeling at times that the granting of permission for applications, are not treated the same and appear to vary at times. You only have to listen to the Radio phone in or read the press to find this. We are not to blame for this, l have to plead innocent, for the douzaines. All we do is take up cases, as best we can for these parishioners and put their views. There are always people getting in touch with us, saying that Deputies, do not get back to help them or that it is difficult to get hold of them.
I must say, that in planning matters, there are bound to be differences between St. Pierre Bois and St. Peter Port.
On the matter of differences, my late father did say, that in his opinion there were 9 parishes, and then Torteval, but l could never understand what he meant by that.
Rubbish Collection.
I agree with, with the writer on charging per bag, and in fact l put this to a parish meeting, when Constable, in 1998.
The polluter should pay and the recycler should benefit, but it has not happened yet.
The proposal on charging per bag has been put to the Douzaine Council twice on my behalf. I have also complained to other douzaines, on the lack of fairness, for pensioners having to pay huge amounts, because of TRP on their large family property.
If collection was done by the states, my opinion is, that it would cost more and be less efficient.
This is an old law and not a great amount is collected, and is it relevant in today’s Guernsey?
We do have cases when, it does help the individual, against unnecessary red tape. We had one recently, when by refusing a bonement, it lead to a more sensible compromise.
Does the bonement pay for, the douzainiers Christmas bash in some parishes, or tipples in others.
In the Forest it goes into the Welfare Fund for the needy. I do not know, what other parishes do, but if it goes for a few bottles of wine at their annual dinner, is that such a crime.
If you consider that, none of get paid and our Christmas dinner is paid for, in full by douzainiers and also invited guests are paid by us. We do not have Vin De Honeurs or jollies, we pay ourselves.
Yes, Guernsey is not a museum, but has a unique history that we are proud of and do our best to help with.
There are always a number of, events that go on over the year with, douzaine members, giving their time “free.”
It appears to me that in the writer’s article that more of our work should be done by civil servants. I would suggest that, this would need more civil servants and more expenditure.
I would also say that some of the, experience of the large number of douzaine members is priceless to this Island, and at times, may l humble say, on occasions better than civil servants or Deputies. I also advise that Deputies to use that “free” consultancy and also those people not in the douzaines, more often.
I would also advise the writer, to speak to us and then he may even learn more, about our system and the things we do.
It is better to be a friend, than an enemy.