As another week of fun and mayhem comes to a close, I want to thank all the residents and visitors alike for the warm welcome I received during Alderney Week. Having only spent the first part of the week on Alderney and despite the wet weather, I had a ball.
This year I decided to take a short break off the Rock and where better to go than Alderney during their party week. Never missing an opportunity and having listened to many a BBC Sunday Phone-in, I decided to take the advice of those calling from the northern isle and spend my time talking to the locals to get their views. For six days, that’s exactly what I did.
Having done my homework, I was ready for some difficult and lively discussions. I had read details of the reviews planned by the States of Guernsey, details from the GDA’s recent visit reviewing the accessibility of public areas, bumf from Citizens’ Advice, the Alderney States’ website and, of course, the latest on the Aurigny saga. However, instead of grumbles and groans, I was greeted by an outpouring of warmth from residents and visitors alike all wanting to share their love of island life.
The conversations I had were invaluable – the visit to the Mignot Memorial Hospital was fascinating, the many discussions with local States’ employees and their spouses (current and recent) were illuminating and then there were the chats in the pubs which were as enjoyable as they were informative. Also, the sermon by the Bishop of Dover at the Church Service opening Alderney Week was thought provoking followed by the fantastic Alderney Blowers whose music was thoroughly uplifting.
So conclusions – the majority of voices praised the lifestyle they have on Alderney but all agreed, unsurprisingly, that they sorely need transport links that are reliable and reasonably priced to encourage visitors, to enable families and friends to visit each other and to ease access medical services when required.
This is not, of course, just an Alderney problem but a Channel Islands’ problem. Having listened to many experts on the subject, I still don’t think the extension of the Guernsey runway is worthwhile having not yet seen evidence to justify the cost. I had heard about the availability of technical equipment which could help planes to land in fog and I thought that sounded like a good idea but I’m unsure if it was feasible.
But the more I listen to people, I think the answer may be cheaper and simpler: I think Aurigny should have a fleet consisting of mainly the same aircraft, making maintenance and the replacement of parts easier with no need for a differently trained crew for each type of aircraft. If fog creates havoc in the morning, these planes should be able to carry passengers quickly back and forth once the fog lifts in the same way the Trilanders did in their heyday.
For Alderney, it is also a question of a new runway (whose size is currently being considered as part of the Alderney Airport Runway Rehabilitation and Future Proofing project) and a smart, new airport terminal.
Whilst travel is the top of everyone’s conversation list, I think it important to make sure the States of Alderney and the States of Guernsey are working effectively together. As a proponent of good communication, I am pleased to see the Alderney representatives are being invited to join in the policy discussions in Guernsey.
As it is the job of the Alderney reps, I believe it is also our role as individual Deputies, whether in Guernsey or Alderney, to encourage the bond between the Islands and to enhance the offering of our Bailiwick to residents and visitors alike. Surely Alderney can be a jewel in the Bailiwick’s crown with its excellent food, history, culture and world famous welcome?
However, as with everything the Bailiwick has to offer at the moment, it is a case of how you get here.
With a theme of Cartoons and Comic Books, let the Cavalcade begin ………