A stinker of a problem that must be fixed straight away

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So much so, in fact, that I will rarely swim anywhere else. Forget the Med (full of bacteria) and the English ‘riviera’ (grey and dirty) and Guernsey (sewage corner).

Nope, the only beaches for me are Jersey beaches because they are clean and gorgeous. Part of my childhood beliefs stem from a visit to Bellozanne, many years ago, as a student of human biology. There, we were told, Jersey’s sewage was turned into nothing more obnoxious than clear and benign fluid that could be pumped back into the sea with no fear of contamination.

We were shown how the process works, to transform the nasty brown smelly stuff into a stink-free miracle of cleanliness. Then last week we learned that nothing is sacred. The States Transport and Technical Services department have let us down.

For three years now the system has not been working well enough to satisfy international standards. The infamous ‘cavern’ under Fort Regent – as I recall the subject of many a discussion about overspending – has also been proving inadequate.

In a finite Island community supporting up to 100,000 people at any one time, the efficient disposal of effluent is a health issue second to none.

If sewage is simply pumped out into the ocean, the damage affects all of us who live here, it puts a big question mark over the tourism industry, and it potentially starts to affect marine life, including the creatures which provide the succulence of many a fruit de mer.

Yet it seems that not until the uncommon growth of sea lettuce started to warn our nostrils of the unacceptable level of nitrogen around the shoreline did the authorities sit up and take notice.

I’m afraid the reassurances of the Environment department have done nothing to allay my concerns.

The Environment Minister may consider that it’s ok for some Jersey beaches not to be good enough for the Good Beach Guide – and Jersey might even be the best of the UK bunch, we are told – but that’s not good enough for me.

Undoubtedly there will have been some effect from Guernsey’s total failure to treat its sewage – a wrong which, we now understand, they intend to put right by investing in a new treatment plant. Shame on them for not acting sooner.

There is no excuse for allowing such contamination, especially when the technology is available – and no expense should be spared to correct it.

Thanks, but there’s no burger for you

EVIDENCE suggests of late that the current recession is beginning to make subtle changes to our habits.

Closing down signs are appearing in shop windows more often than they used to and, in a reverse move, some clothing retailers are postponing their sales for better times and continuing to charge the full price longer into the season.

On the corporate front, breakfast meetings which used to provide ample bacon butties for all are becoming coffee-in-the-corner gatherings.

Banks, too, we hear, are cutting back, and longer-serving staff seem to be suffering most.

One of the biggest banking groups, for instance, has been busy finding staff willing to take voluntary redundancy and/or making staff redundant to order. This week they held a barbecue event at one of the Island’s more exclusive hotels to ‘celebrate’ the restructure.

To organise such an event might seem callous enough (given that hotels these days are not cheap) but I also have it on good authority that those members of staff who have been made redundant were told in no uncertain terms that they would no longer be welcome to attend.

Some of those on the receiving end have clocked up nearly 40 years of devoted service.

Perhaps no one should be completely surprised, given that this is the same banking group which recently announced the biggest loss in UK corporate history – and is currently paying its former chief executive a massive £700,000 a year pension.

If this is the future of co-operation….

THERE has been increased talk in recent months of more co-operation between Jersey and Guernsey.

In the main, this has come from the Institute of Directors on both sides of the water, who are making a concerted effort to persuade their respective governments to pay more than lip service to the notion. Not least is the need to make potential savings, given that both islands are currently facing the prospect of black holes in their finances, they say.

On the face of it, combining forces should make a lot of sense. So what is stopping our politicians from making practical progress?

Some inkling of the constitutional waters dividing the two islands came to light last week when Guernsey’s chief minister, Deputy Lyndon Trott, was invited to speak at the Jersey IoD lunch.

Most of what he wanted to say centred around his own role, as a ‘senior ambassador’ for Guernsey, which apparently includes attending UK party political conferences, dining with people like Lord Bach (the Whitehall man responsible for the Channel Islands), holding meetings with tax haven oponent and Liberal Democrat shadow chancellor Vince Cable, visiting high-level advisers in Washington and Brussels, never saying no to making keynote speeches, and even holding an annual London dinner to which the movers and shakers are invited.

I have to say it would be hard to imagine our Chief Minister, Terry Le Sueur, toadying up to Tory hopefuls at the Conservative Party conference in Blackpool or wherever.

In all, it was a quite peculiar stance to take, and I suspect others in the audience also found it a little perplexing. Whether we are one step back or one step forward towards mutual kinship, time will tell.

A small tale

RED squirrels have moved into suburbia. I have been watching them for a couple of seasons now, running up and down the wall of the nearby school on a weekend spree, tails flying.

The other morning two bright faces peered down at me as I walked to work and then the red daredevils scampered off to pursue more interesting activities.

Occasionally, Kamikaze Squirrel, as he is known, has stopped trafffic by trying to cross the road. I cross fingers and pray.

There are a lot of things worth preserving in this Island and these little guys are but one example.

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