A reminder of our reliance on transport links
Saturday 16th March 2013, 10:00AM GMT.
AS I write, Sark Shipping has just cancelled both cargo and passenger services for the second consecutive day.
This is the first time for quite a while that this has happened, as far as I can establish.
The fact that such an occurrence is worth remarking upon is itself a tribute to the crews of the vessels that provide this small community the sort of lifeline service many others envy.
Both Monday’s passenger services were cancelled and early on Tuesday the Sark Viking’s run with cargo was put off, followed later by the announcement that the only passenger boat of the day had also fallen by the wayside.
It’s actually been a good week for reminding Sark about its reliance on transport links, although insofar as aircraft are concerned I fear that some island residents will never accept the fact that the island is directly in line with the runway at Guernsey Airport.
That became apparent at the recent public meeting on aviation matters, addressed by director of civil aviation Fergus Woods and Advocate Hilary Pullum from the Law Officers’ Department. Both speakers spelt it out in the clearest terms that despite Sark’s quirky penchant for being ‘different’, the Aviation Law kicked out by Chief Pleas in January was not an optional extra for Sark but must be approved.
Had the lucid explanations given by Advocate Pullum and Mr Woods been given to Chief Pleas then I’m sure the time, trouble and expense of bringing them to Sark to address 50 or so residents could have been avoided. They told the meeting that these explanations had been given to General Purposes and Advisory but, it seems to me, they did not find their way into the report prepared for conseillers.
That said, the minutes indicate that both chairman Charles Maitland and his committee colleague Andrew Bache told members that Sark’s protection regarding overflying was not affected by the new legislation.
Perhaps it’s time for those who think World War Three has broken out every time they can hear an aircraft to remember that almost a million people a year use Guernsey Airport, with nearly 56,000 flights. A percentage of these are among the 45,000 who travel to Sark each year to spend money supporting this community’s economy.
A number of people in Sark were dismayed to read a comment last week – not in this column – that the island is being run by and for those who view it is a sort of moated retirement community.
As was pointed out to me – occasionally quite forcefully by those conseillers who viewed it as a personal insult – a swift perusal of the list of elected representatives indicates that all but a handful have been or are currently in full-time employment in Sark.
I worked out that of the 27 current members, six at the very most might be said to have retired to Sark and the true figure is likely to be no more than two or three.
But, as others have also observed, whenever Sark decides on a course of action that has neither been suggested nor approved by those in Whitehall or Guernsey who invariably believe they know better than those who actually live here, we are told that we are wrong.
Sark might well be persuaded to take more notice of such views if those who express them didn’t already have a barrel full of their own problems they have so far failed to resolve.
And, just to please the reader who enjoys news of jumble sales, the one last week for the Professor Saint Fund raised more than £1,000.
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