Sark Newspaper 08 March 2019

10 STOP SQUANDERING TAXPAYERS’ MONEY ON THIS ILL THOUGHT THROUGH FOLLY After overturning his own Price Control Order on 30th November 2018, Sark’s Electricity Price Con- trol Commissioner issued a notice on his corner of the state website which included this statement: “ Sark Electricity Limited and Chief Pleas have agreed to start negotiations with the intention of Chief Pleas purchasing the Company, including its equipment. This negotiating period will start on 1st December with the goal of completion by the end of February .” Unsurprisingly - at least to those familiar with the paralysis of Sark’s parliament, Chief Pleas - that deadline was not met. This fact was very much picked up by the local media. Some Islanders were interviewed by ITV Channel News. Linda Williams, Sark state tribunal member and former wife of the long-term unelected Chief Pleas member Paul Williams, opined about the Chief Pleas planned purchase of Sark Electricity Ltd (SEL) that “ I think it would be a move in the right direction ” and she added that she would also be “ grateful ” if, whilst they are at it, Chief Pleas would invest money it doesn’t have in solar energy and wind turbines. Kaye Char, on the other hand, claimed that Is- landers would prefer stability to the uncertainty cre- ated by the present situation. Sark Chamber of Commerce President Tony Le Lievre said that “ No one is saying anything about much at all, really. As far as we know negotiations are still going on. ” It is certainly true that, perhaps with the exception of SEL director David Gordon-Brown, no one is say- ing anything. Even the Sark Electricity Price Con- trol Commissioner, Anthony White, is uncharacter- istically quiet. He has not issued yet another one of his all too familiar notices. He has not seized the opportunity of his deadline passing to once again impress upon the Sark public of why they need to pay him undisclosed amounts of their hard-earned money for his fantasy-based assumptions. Nor has he warned us of to expect now that his deadline has been and gone without any agreement being made between SEL and Chief Pleas. All that the taxpaying and electricity consuming Sark public has to go by is what is reported in the media. The split in Islanders’ opinions, reflected in the statements made to ITV by Linda Williams and Kaye Char, are every bit as deep as the chasm be- tween SEL and Chief Pleas. As shown by the Guernsey Press coverage, SEL director David Gor- don-Brown claims that no progress has been made and that Chief Pleas has failed to appoint the profes- sional valuers they need in order to move forward. Meanwhile, the deputy chairman of Sark’s ‘lead’ committee, Policy & Finance, William Raymond, assures the same paper that “ professional advisers acting for both SEL and Chief Pleas are working to try to agree a basis for the valuation process ”. The fake ‘electricity crisis’ which hit the national and international headlines three months ago was the culmination of the hostile campaign instigated by Sark’s Chief Pleas nine years ago to gain control over the family-owned SEL, a private company against which the public at large was, they claimed and continue to claim, in need of government protec- tion. This ‘protection’ has not resulted in lower electricity prices. Instead, it has saddled the people of Sark with mounting costs - so far the astronomical amount of £694,184.60 in legal fees, professional fees and the Com- missioner’s pay and expenses, but not including the fees incurred by Chief Pleas’, SEL’s and the Commissioner’s separately contract- ed valuers, nor does it include unquanti- fiable costs such as the endless hours spent on this entire misadventure by Guernsey’s Law Of- ficers over the past nine years or the serious damage the Guernsey Press Saturday 2nd March 2019

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