Sark Newspaper 04 January 2019

5 In what must surely rate as the irony of all ironies, the only ap- plication to Sark’s Development Control Committee in December is for permission to mount a small noticeboard to display ap- plications to … Sark’s Develop- ment Control Committee. As we enter 2019 Sark’s build- ers have little to be optimistic about. Many have stopped trad- ing altogether and have sold off their plant and machinery. Others are struggling to survive in an industry that, a few short years ago, was trad- ing on upwards of £10 million a year but which now struggles to attract a few hundred thou- sands of pounds of turnover per annum. With the entire industry reduced to little more than a collection of jobbing builders, those who remain in business are resorting to dispatching their la- bour force to Guernsey in an effort to fill their empty order books. Quite how this sits with Guernsey’s own construction workers is any- one's guess. Sark’s builders working in Guernsey do not pay a penny in tax into Guernsey’s exchequer, yet benefit from over £2 million of hidden subsidies into Sark from the taxes paid by the very Guern- sey builders with whom they are competing for work. This allows Sark’s builders to undercut local Guernsey tradesmen's prices whilst sitting back and benefitting from the taxes that Guern- sey tradesmen pay on their hard-earned wages. There are millions of pounds of Sark building projects sitting on the drawing board waiting to be given the go-ahead, but there is little hope of these projects be- coming a reality whilst the Is- land’s economy remains in the doldrums. If we, the people of Sark, get the government we de- serve, then it is a fair assumption that the builders on Sark get the work they deserve. They are the architects of their own struggle to house and feed their families. They are renowned for keeping their heads low and refusing to challenge the sta- tus quo through fear of being blacklisted and os- tracised by the unelected Reginald Guille and his powerful coterie of unelected would-be politi- cians and state officials. The recent elections have shown that the people of Sark have abandoned the unelected Guille and his supporters’ ideology of division and en- trenchment. The rejection by the electorate of Guille’s loyal ‘lieutenant’ Edric Baker and his wife Diane shows that the tide has turned. The time has come for Sark’s building sector to stand up and be counted. As is the case the world over, their industry provides the barometer for the health of the economy. If they are thriving and prospering, then everyone else is thriving and prospering too. They cannot simply sit back and wait for better times to land on their lap. In an industry dominated by male workers one simple question remains unanswered, are they men or mice? NO RESPITE IN SIGHT FOR THE ISLAND’S BELEAGUERED BUILDERS SARK’S BUILDING SECTOR