I was delighted that the application to develop on the field at Route des Blanches in St Martin was refused on 16 December 2015. This was nothing to do with not wanting to see new developments in the Parish, but the fact that this was the wrong place. This was a case of trying to get permission before the new Island Development Plan got approved as it would clearly have been refused, being outside the Local Centre of St Martin and a greenfield site.
The site in question comprises prime agricultural land. In fact, it is Grade I soil, the best quality on the entire island. The Housing Department are intent on building wherever they can to justify an outdated, flawed and failing policy. What we need is a new policy that takes account of the circumstances of today, not 12 years ago.
That is why I was so pleased that my amendment, instructing Housing and Treasury & Resources Departments to undertake an independent broad- based review of the local housing market was passed by the States earlier this year. You can read more about that in my earlier posts.
The open planning meeting demonstrated the inconsistencies in current planning policies and how a new plan is needed sooner rather than later.
Well done to all those who were part of the campaign against the development and who spoke at the open planning meeting.
Following the decision to close St Andrew’s Primary School I was invited to join the group acting as a liaison between the parents, teachers and pupils of St Andrew and the Education Department.
Things were frosty at the start, probably understandably given how raw everyone felt about the closure. However, everyone acted in a very constructive way to ensure that children experienced as smooth a transition to their new schools as possible. Much credit should go to Sarah Barrett and Charles Swainston for the hard work they did on the group.
Following the closure of the school in July 2015, the group was disbanded in December after its last meeting. It is hoped that in the near future the building can reopen and continue to be at the heart of the community. I still believe the decision to close the school was wrong, but hopefully the group helped to make the inevitable as smooth a process as possible.
What an amazing weekend!
I volunteered to help out in town as one of the ‘Liberation Groundforce’ in St Peter Port, assisting people to get to where they needed to and selling brochures. I’ve never seen so many people together on Guernsey as that day. I was only booked for a 2 hour slot, but I got swept up in the sheer atmosphere of the day and ended up staying for more than double that. I definitely needed to put my feet up after that.
The next day saw Parish celebrations. I contributed to the St Martin’s celebrations by producing ration books and ID cards, together with vouchers, for the various events on the day, including the amazing tea party where some of my fellow Deputies did the cooking. It was good to see the men put their aprons on for a change! The Samba Band were excellent and I really enjoyed the display of vintage cars up Rue Maze.
So, a great few days and thanks must go to all those who organised the various activities big and small. Without the brilliant volunteers we really would not have had such a weekend to remember.
Petit Port has been called the jewel in the crown of our south coast. However, it was closed for most of 2014 and the first quarter of 2015 due to concerns of the Environment Department about falling rocks.
Myself, Deputies Sillars and Luxon joined forces with the St Martin’s Douzaine to put pressure on the Department to reopen the steps. It took quite a bit of campaigning in the media and various meetings and correspondence, but this we succeeded in doing just before the tourist season restarted in 2015. However, there are still concerns that the same may happen again, especially as the Department is no longer funding annual maintenance of the cliffs. It is very much a case of ‘watch this space’.
I took an active part in the campaign against the closure of St Andrew’s Primary School. It was a tough battle but I was honoured to be part of a fantastic team of people who worked so hard to try to save their wonderful school.
Sadly, it all came to nothing and we lost the debate. It was really lost before the debate took place but no-one involved in the campaing could have done more. That result was utterly depressing. St Andrew’s is at the heart of the Parish and a little bit of Guernsey history is being destroyed as a result.
This was not about the quality of the other schools. I have personal experience of St Martin’s school and know what a great school it is, both my children having gone there. It was all about retaining a sense of community and also, the fact we did not believe the figures provided by the Education Department actually stacked up.
Time will tell who was right.
This was the longest speech I have made to date, but it was essential that I put across the reasons why the schools should remain open. Due to its length I have added it as an attachment.Education Final