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Sark power could be off until Easter

Sark power could be off until Easter

Thursday 29 November 2018

Sark power could be off until Easter

Thursday 29 November 2018


Chief Pleas will look to buy Sark Electricity Ltd, but getting all of the paperwork sorted could take months, the island has been warned.

Sark's politicians agreed at a meeting last night that they would buy the utility firm, once due diligence has been carried out.

As Chief Pleas hasn't yet seen any of the facts and figures related to the private company's accounts Conseiller Reg Guille previously said they can't spend public money without that due diligence being done. The paperwork could be presented at Chief Pleas "at as early a date as possible but no later than the Easter meeting 2019."

sark chief pleas

Pictured: The policy letter approved by Chief Pleas last night contained the above details. 

The man who owns SEL has said he can't afford to keep the firm running indefinitely so he still intends to switch the power off at midnight on Friday.

David Gordon-Brown has said his firm is losing £20,000 a month since price controls were brought in, cutting Sark's electricity price to 52pence per unit.

He said he can't walk into bankruptcy so he has no choice but to shut the power station down. 

Mr Gordon-Brown was at last night's Chief Pleas meeting, which had to be moved to the Island Hall as so many people were expected to attend. In the end up to 70 people were there watching the meeting, said Arthur Rolfe, the Speaker of Chief Pleas. That's almost a fifth of the island population during the winter months. Mr Rolfe said those who went listened to and observed the meeting and then many of them went for a drink at the Mermaid after, including Mr Gordon-Brown.

Mr Rolfe said it is hard to gauge the mood of people in Sark as everyone is "just getting on with it" but he said, "we're definitely not rioting in the streets, and that's not because we haven't got any streets!"

interior mermaid tavern

Pictured: The public mood in Sark remains as relaxed as ever, with many people going to the pub for a pint after the latest emergency meeting over what's been dubbed the 'electricity issue'. Even the man who wants to switch the island's power off was seen at the Mermaid last night. 

With hundreds of people expected to stay on the island throughout the quieter winter months, plans are well advanced to survive the black out - with families filing bathtubs with water to flush the toilets, shops stocking up on bottled water and generators being brought over to keep key areas powered up.

Stocks Hotel has its own generator and the manager has offered rooms to the island's most vulnerable residents so they can be assured of drinking water, flushing toilets, heating and cooked food.

The situation is far more serious than just the power going out, as the island's water boreholes network is run on electricity so a public health emergency could arise without drinking or flushing water available.

A 'gold' and 'silver' command structure was also approved during last night's meeting so Chief Pleas can act quickly if they need to spend money or make decisions based on public safety.

Screen_Shot_2018-11-29_at_09.22.43.png

Pictured: The detailed plans of what will happen if the power is shut off have started to be addressed publicly in Sark.

Guernsey Police has sent two officers over to support the Sark Constable incase any tensions run over before or after the switch off.

Usually Guernsey Police has no jurisdiction in Sark and officers have to be asked to lend their support. This rarely happens, except for during times of Royal Visits or other high profile guests setting foot on Sark, so this adds to the highly unusual nature of events this month.

Mr Rolfe said the police officers are there more in an advisory role, and to help tie up any civil contingency plans they can help with.

He said negotiations are ongoing otherwise, and "who can tell what's going to happen. The talks have been going on and on and on, and they'll continue now until we get this sorted - whatever happens."

Pictured top: Sark could be left in the dark within days.

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