On behalf of the Vale Commons Council, I would like to welcome all Habitants of the Clos du Valle and all other Islanders to the first dedicated website of the Commons Council.
In this introduction, I have given a broad overview, an Executive Summary which allows the reader to understand what the site contains. Inevitably, there is some overlap between my Introduction and the rest of the website, and some repetition also occurs within the content of the website, mostly because this is the first edition of the site.
THE COMMONS: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
In this section, you will find a briefing paper which was prepared by the Council and its Working Party. It provides a general overview of the Commons from the perspective of the Council. A further paper, which was prepared by the Environment Department in 2011, has also been included. As you will see, both papers say very much the same thing.
For years, the Commons have been seriously underfunded. The grant resolved by the States towards the general upkeep of the Commons was set at £30,000 in 2001. Provision for inflation was made, but was not added, with the result that what would now (2016) be an annual grant of up to £45,000 remained fixed at £30,000.
In 2016 the States increased the grant to £40,000 with effect from 2017
The policy of the States, which pays the annual grant, is that the Commons should be funded on a “User Pays” basis. Whilst the Council understands the constraints on the public purse, it will always be the case that, whilst various sporting and other organisations can and are being asked to contribute in this way, a great deal of the use and wear and tear on the Commons comes from everyday activities by individual Islanders, whose use of the Commons increases year on year. It seems to the Council that this usage was the purpose of the present grant and that, whilst various user groups can be expected to pay for their own usage of the Commons, it is not reasonable for them to subsidise the individual users, hence the Council’s assertion that, in the present circumstances, a grant from Government will remain appropriate.
In this section, we have produced the report of Environment Guernsey Limited, a company which operates under the umbrella of La Société Guernesiaise, and performs specialist works for and provides advice to Government, the National Trust of Guernsey, La Société and other persons. Whilst Environment Guernsey is not the only advisor in this field, their Notes for Future Management of the Commons has provided the Council with an excellent benchmark of what is required as a result of years of under-investment in the Commons, and the increasing requirement for enhanced environmental management.
A snapshot of some of the Council’s responsibilities has been included by adding a schedule of the car parks, footpaths and tracks under its management.
THE FUTURE OF THE WEBSITE
From time to time, the Council hopes to be able to update the website, so that the work of the Council and the future of the Commons are better understood across the Island. We have many tasks which await our attention.