The grapes of wrath a sorry saga
Saturday 10th November 2012, 10:00AM GMT.
IF WHOEVER carried out the senseless vandalism to vines owned by Sark Estate Management was intent on creating mischief and mayhem and adding to the deep divisions in this community, then they have succeeded.
Not surprisingly, Sark at present is awash with theories about this idiotic criminal behaviour, ranging from something akin to the burning of the Reichstag – to use the parallel with Nazi Germany in the 1930s which the Sark Newsletter is so fond of using when describing life here – to it being part of the protest residents staged against continued vineyard expansion.
I have no more idea about who or why than anyone else but I suspect the truth may lie somewhere in the middle, with the object being mischief and discord in a divided community. Accordingly, I doubt it is self-inflicted and doubt also that it was part of what, by all accounts – including that of Guernsey Police chief Patrick Rice – was a very peaceful protest near The Mill.
However, it was interesting to read about the adequacy of policing in Sark.
Perhaps someone could tell me how having Guernsey Police officers stationed here in Sark could have either prevented these criminal acts or made the task of catching the perpetrators any easier.
Vandals who damage or desecrate property in the middle of well-lit towns and cities – many also covered by CCTV surveillance – are notoriously difficult to detect and convict. Without putting too fine a point on it, that task is immeasurably more difficult in an environment with no street lights, in the middle of fields and without the luxury of CCTV, no matter how many police officers are available and who they are.
What does puzzle me, however, is why, when the vineyards have been established here in Sark for several years now without any reported vandalism on any significant scale, thousands of pounds’ worth of damage is done just hours before island residents stage a (first) peaceful protest against expansion. It is a question many people are asking.
What with all that, and the questions posed by the national media about a firm operating from Sark – quite legitimately, it appears – the island is again in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. One wonders how Lord McNally at the Ministry of Justice views all this.
Well, according to the word in The Avenue – I nearly said grapevine – the ministry was concerned about the company employing supply teachers operating from Sark but not, apparently, about the fears of island residents over vineyard expansion.
I wonder what the ministry’s reaction would be to a protest in Britain involving 10m. people – that figure simply being the pro rata equivalent of the Sark protest – and whether ministers like Lord McNally would view such an event with concern.
It’s just a thought.
Just before the half-term break I spent an enjoyable hour watching Sark School pupils demonstrating how to design vehicles capable of transporting an egg – sometimes at speed – without breaking it.
Held at the Island Hall, the event provided a goodly crowd of friends and families with lots of laughs, considerable admiration for innovation and ingenuity and much-deserved praise to everyone involved – pupils, teachers and in many cases families.
There had to be a winner and it was Yasmin Williams, aided, abetted and assisted by most of the Magell family, with an awesome-looking go-kart affair powered by some pretty powerful elastic.
Next week is busy for Sark. Chief Secretary Colin Kniveton is talking at a public meeting on Monday evening, just after the Theatre Group’s AGM, while Chief Pleas meet on Wednesday evening to discuss a report on the appointment of the (new) Seneschal.
There is also a public meeting on Thursday to discuss new road traffic legislation.
Preceding all this is Remembrance Sunday and the service at the war memorial, while Sark children will have planted crosses at the memorial this morning.
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