Sark Newspaper 04 January 2019

2 The euphoria following December’s election, the first opportunity that the people of Sark have had to see a ballot box since 2013, has now dissi- pated. Islanders are keen to know whether or not the new influx of democratically elected poli- ticians will bring a decade of state-sponsored economic ethnic cleansing to an end, the likes of which has not been seen in Europe since 1930s Germany. Hardliners such as the Island’s unelected ‘chief minister’ Reginald Guille have inflicted a decade of misery on the people of Sark. The working men and women of Sark have been kicked in the teeth one too many times by Guille and his sup- porters. Guille represents the worst of Sark. He has feathered his nest with vast sums of unde- clared and untaxed earnings from the unregulat- ed offshore financial services industry and, as a result, has the luxury of playing footloose and fancy free with the future of the Island and its people. Whilst this renowned state bully and his supporters trade on the politics of division, hate and entrenchment, the rest of the Island have had to struggle to survive during a decade of state-sponsored economic decline. The facts speak for themselves. The unelected Reginald Guille and his supporters have ruled, unopposed, over Sark for the past ten years. What you find in Sark today is solely of their making. The collapse of the Island’s tourism in- dustry, the unprecedented depopulation through their policies of economic destruction, the fail- ure to deliver land reform and with it the pro- spect of property ownership for all and tax hikes the likes of which have never been seen in Sark’s 450 year history: · The Island’s population has plummeted by 40%. · Land and property prices are down 30%. · Employment is down 70%. · Sark school pupil numbers are down 30%. · Our building sector activity is down 60%. · The Island’s hotel bed-stock is down 66%. · Retail space occupancy is down 55%. · Property tax has risen by 130%. · Direct taxes have risen by 67%. A CUSTOMS POST There is not a single action that can come close to changing the fortunes of the people of Sark than that of the introduction of a Customs post to al- low our tourism businesses direct access to the vast markets of mainland Europe via the coastal ports of the west coast of France. Tourism is the principal economic driver of the Island’s econo- my, yet it attracts barely enough customers to keep a single medium-sized hospitality operation in business anywhere else in the world. The Island boasts six first-class hotels, 30,000 sq. feet of commercial and retail space, 10 guest houses, 30 self-catering businesses, two campsites, three pubs and 18 cafés and restau- rants. Each year it should welcome hundreds of seasonal workers to work in its world-class hos- pitality businesses, yet currently only a handful are needed to man the few hospitality businesses that remain open. The knock-on effect of Sark’s struggling tourism sector is being felt throughout the economy. We are consuming 40% less elec- tricity, gas, oil and other consumables than we were a decade ago, leaving the rest of us to pay inflated prices for all of the goods and services we use. 2019 MUST BE THE YEAR THAT SARK REBUILDS ITS ECONOMY 2018 SEASON TOTAL NUMBER OF PASSENGERS TRAVELLING TO SARK UP TO SUNDAY 4TH NOVEMBER 2018 54,736 AVERAGE DAILY NUMBER OF PASSENGERS TRAVELLING TO SARK UP TO SUNDAY 4TH NOVEMBER 2018 249 TOURISM SARK’S PRINCIPAL ECONOMIC DRIVER