Sark Newspaper 08 February 2019

11 At Wednesday evening’s Extraordinary meeting of Chief Pleas the Speaker Ar- thur Rolfe announced that the by- election to replace the two seats that re- main vacant following the resignations of the unelected Reginald Guille and Sébastien Moerman will be held on Wednesday 12th June 2019. Nomina- tions will open at 1pm on Friday 10 th May 2019 and close at 4pm on Friday 24 th May 2019. The successful candi- dates will be sworn into office on Wednesday 3 rd July 2019 for a term of office that will run until Thursday 14 th January 2021. He gave two reasons for not holding the by-election earlier. The first being that, in the aftermath of December 2018’s general election, the first to be held in Sark since 2012, Arthur Rolfe spoke of the need to bring the electoral register up to date. As this publica- tion observed at the time, the register is a far from accurate record of those who truly reside in Sark and who subsequently should vote in our elections. He revealed that he intends to send a letter to eve- ry house in Sark inviting electors to update and correct the information currently held on the reg- ister. The Speaker is clearly minded to give enough time for everyone who wishes to respond to do so before the June by- election. He went on to dismiss what he referred to as the commonly misunder- stood myth that paying taxes in Sark au- tomatically gives people the right to vote, noting that the tax office and the Greffier office are not linked in anyway. The sec- ond reason he gave for, what on the face of it, seems an interminably long time between the January resignations of Guille and Moerman and the June by-election to replace them he pointed out that an Ordinance will need to be requested by the Policy & Finance Committee from the Law Officers in Guernsey after which it must be brought to Chief Pleas, adding: “This would need to be done at the latest before the agenda for Easter Chief Pleas closes on the 3 rd April. So that has time constraints.” Chief Pleas will meanwhile function with 16 of the 18 seats filled. 7 of those 16 members will govern without a mandate from the people to do so. BY-ELECTION TO REPLACE GUILLE AND MOERMAN TO BE HELD IN JUNE property, apart from a couple of metres of steep cotil. It proved its usability during emergency training in 2011. The preference of Sark’s une- lected ‘government’ of the past 10 years has been to pretend it doesn’t exist - to the extent of buy- ing provisional portable equipment with taxpay- ers’ money. Safety gear is notoriously expensive and has a notoriously short shelf life. Is this equipment, bought at a cost of £4,000 to Sark’s taxpayers, still in date and useable? There is no information whatsoever available to the people who paid for it. A new era has finally dawned in Sark’s govern- ance. A majority of our legislature is, at long last, elected to their seats and hold a mandate from the Island’s people to make decisions on their behalf. The big question is, will they acknowledge La Moinerie helipad as an asset to this Island in an emergency, or will they continue to pretend it doesn’t exist in line with the policy set by their unelected predecessors? On Tuesday this week Air Rescue Channel Is- lands once again hit the headlines in the Guern- sey Press. This time to suggest that this charity could provide out-of-hours emergency evacua- tions for Alderney, whose medevac agreement with Aurigny ‘only’ covers regular hours. Sark, on the other hand, has no air evacuation agreements with anyone. Reliant on the ambu- lance boat or, in bad weather, the life boat, a se- riously ill Sark resident faces a long delay indeed before reaching even Guernsey’s limited hospital facilities. If specialist UK hospital treatment is needed, we can expect at least two hours added onto the average of the four hours it presently takes to get reach a suitable UK facility. The people of Sark need, and deserve, a complete re-think. If the worst comes to the worst, there is absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t have ac- cess to the same services as our neighbours on Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney. We, and our loved ones, should not be condemned to needless suffering or premature death because of political dogma. The election results of December 2018 gave us hope that compassion and common sense will now win the day and the dark days have come finally to an end. The new rescue service hit the Guernsey Press headlines again on Tuesday this week.