A little foresight would be a fine thing indeed

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I’VE lost count of how many times over the years that I have criticised firms – and particularly the airlines upon which this small rock is so dependent – for what amounts to a fare increase by stealth by charging clients who use credit or debit cards to pay for their tickets.

The practice was particularly insidious when they started imposing these charges for every leg of every passenger’s journey, which meant that a family of four travelling to and from the United Kingdom faced not one surcharge for what amounted to one financial transaction, but eight greedy bites at the cherry.

For once in its life the European Union did something useful and declared that from last weekend the practice would be illegal. I can’t recall when the EU made the announcement, but I reckon it must be a few months ago at least.

Sadly, but perhaps not surprisingly when it comes to one of that lot in the Big House, its implementation seems to have caught Murray Norton – he’s the assistant minister for Economic Development with special responsibility for consumer affairs – totally unawares. When asked if (or when) the ban would apply here, he indicated that not only would it not, but that he was unable to say when it might take effect.

Deputy Norton described the ban on imposing the surcharge as having complicated and varied rules and added that there was ‘more to these rules than meets the eye, which is why we want to consider all the options’. However, the Deputy did not explain why our elected representatives and/or their highly experienced (we are constantly reminded) hired help had not considered the options he referred during the months between the EU’s announcement of intention and the ban taking effect. It remains to be seen how long it takes avaricious businesses to realise that the rules don’t apply here and that, therefore, they can continue ripping off their customers at will.

JUST in case any taxpayer needs reminding, that lot in the Big House get little brown envelopes every Friday lunchtime containing (as near as makes no difference) about nine hundred crisp one pound notes. In exchange, some of them work extremely hard – and that includes some back benchers as well as some ministers – while others are simply required to be there in their plush leather seats whenever the Big House convenes.

Not too much to ask, one would have thought, and compared with other ways of earning a living, far from an onerous task. Yet, the other day the Boss’s apprentice Tim Le Cocq had to suspend the sitting for ten minutes because there was an insufficient number of our elected representatives present in order to continue the process of governing the Island.

Mr Le Cocq – was it his dad who used to be manager of one of the banks at Quennevais, I wonder? – was later able to resume the sitting, but only after he’d effectively been forced to send out a possé to round up those who thought they could get away with playing truant.

Since they appear to want to behave like school children – just look at those who can’t be bothered to be in their seats when the roll is called at the beginning of each sitting – perhaps it’s time to start treating them like school children and either give them detention (a couple of hours learning Standing Orders by heart might concentrate a few minds) or five hundred lines on a theme of ‘I must start earning the considerable amount of money that hard-pressed taxpayers are giving me and stop treating them with contempt’, might also do the trick.

HERSELF often gently chides me – her phrase, not mine – about my alleged inability to ‘multi-task’, whatever that might entail. So I was amused when she hurtled down the path towards The Shed, where I was having one of my quiet five minutes, telling me that she’d found someone less capable than me.

She’d read the comment by Eddie Noel saying that he and his cohorts at Infrastructure hadn’t given any detailed thought to what might be done with the Les Quennevais School site once its replacement had been built.

As she said, well you’d expect nothing else from the public sector, given the track record of letting valuable buildings almost fall down in disrepair and neglect before deciding what to do with them.

AND finally… A deserved bouquet to those at Health who’ve kept flu at bay for thousands of Island residents.

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