To all Customers, I have issued this initial notice through the media in an effort to specifically make all residents aware that, moving forwards, for general notices such as these we will be using the new Facebook page Sark Electricity.
This is in an effort to reduce the number of postal visits that need to be made while we all observe the necessary social distancing. All customer specific correspondence will of course be continue by email where we have it and by post where entirely necessary.
Given the circumstances, It would be helpful if we can maintain communication through electronic rather than postal methods. Could we please ask those of you that have an email address to ensure that we have a current one on file so that we can keep you up to date as the situation progresses.
The team have been working hard to clean disused diesel storage tanks in an effort to increase our available on Island storage capacity in the unlikely event that supplies are affected. The team now have a standing instruction to maintain maximum storage levels at all times while this pandemic continues.
I have already doubled the available cash reserves on hand to support the balance sheet at this time and I will monitor the financial situation as it progresses in an effort to ensure that supply continues.
Where at all possible I would ask customers to avoid coming into the office. We will not be at all offended if you simply post cheques and correspondence through the letterbox and smile and wave at us through the window. While I am of course keen to ensure the good health of all residents; as key workers, I am especially keen to ensure that the engineering team maintain their current level of peak physical health. I for one am grateful to PJ for his inspirational lifestyle choices and I have begun adapting my own lifestyle accordingly. Sorry Joanne, but you and I as admin are second class on this one.
I recognise that there are some who utilise pay meters currently and I will be exploring options next week to see if we can utilise the key teams who continue to provide us with important services day in and day out while this pandemic has progressed. I would like to extend my sincere thanks and those of the staff of SEL, to the grocery, hardware, banking providers and others who continue to selflessly serve our community during this difficult time. I will update you as these discussions progress.
I recognise that at this time of genuine personal crisis, paying your electricity bill may be a very low priority. I would urge those of you with financial security to please support your fellow islanders by settling your bills as soon as possible. Maintaining SEL cash flow to ensure the stability of supply will be a key focus for us moving forwards. Like many of you, the season is an opportunity to increase cash reserves that see us through the winter months and fund infrastructure investment. In an effort to support the business I have, with immediate effect, reduced my own salary by 50% for the duration of this crisis.
The economic model of Sark is distinctly different to our Island neighbours and the ability of Chief Pleas to support the local economy through this crisis is genuinely limited. I am aiming to talk with our procurer this coming week to explore how we can support those who are unable to settle their practical household expenses at this time of inevitable increased need and will be reaching out to the Bailiwick business community and others to explore how we can unite in the face of the effects of this pandemic.
On an extremely practical note, I do not think it would be unreasonable for me to characterise the historic investment of the previous owners in anything beyond basic engine maintenance as ‘sporadic’.
Of the four diesel engines that we maintain at SEL, one is in bits, two have been generously described by our foreman as ‘middling’ and one as being in ‘good’ condition.
My original intent had been to arrange an immediate and significant overhaul of our equipment. This would ordinarily involve an outside engineer for a job of this complexity.
However, given the current travel bans this is not possible. Please be assured that I am reaching out to our friends at Guernsey Electric, the States of Guernsey and the wider Bailiwick business community in an effort to identify what, if any, local expertise is available to support our somewhat urgent and significant engineering needs.
The media's help in getting this message out would be helpful. I do not anticipate any short to medium term concerns in respect of our ability to maintain supply.
However, in the absence of a definitive timeline for this situation to ease, I am keen to ensure that I mitigate potential future problems before they have an opportunity to occur.
NON COVID-19 RELATED
In a rather personal twist, I am disappointed to notify you all that, due to the change in ownership, NatWest Bank have requested that we close our bank accounts with immediate effect. They did not even give me an opportunity to apply. Apparently. my history simply makes business banking absolute impossibility. A lack of business banking services would clearly have an impact on our ability to function as a going concern.
On Friday I reached out to the Guernsey Policy and Resources Committee and expressed my personal disappointment that 13 years after my offence and with my conviction now being officially classed as spent, that I am still being punished in Guernsey for the recognised failures of my past. How does the Guernsey executive reasonably expect ex-offenders to effectively rehabilitate if practicalities such as business banking arrangements are out of reach of those with prison records? I accept that my failures would reasonably make it harder, or more expensive, but impossible!
I have asked the States of Guernsey to seriously consider leveraging its cash deposits with NatWest to ensure that the spirit of the Rehabilitation of Offender’s (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2002 is executed in practice. I understand that Deputy Al Brouard has now reached out to NatWest Bank and the Guernsey Law Officers to discuss the topic. As a private citizen, and not on behalf of SEL, I would respectfully ask that those of you that support the concepts of prisoner rehabilitation write to your Deputies and NatWest Bank asking them to reconsider this socially reprehensible policy.
Conversations with the Price Commissioner in respect of the PCO and the historic case are ongoing. In fairness to Chief Pleas, responding to Covid-19 is a higher priority at this time and this will, I am sure, be dealt when they have a chance to take a breath.
I would like to extend my personal thanks to Chief Pleas members and the team around them for facing this challenge as diligently as they have. Decisions that have stumped significant bureaucracies have been made swiftly and I have no doubt, will have saved lives. Thank-you to you all.
Regards, Alan Jackson