Year Three in the Atlantic

NOVEMBER 2014

Every year we get a nice bunch of folks from the Department of International Development come to visit us. It’s an  opportunity to justify the funding that the Island receives. Each year the acronym has changed; last year it was DPAM and this year it is BAM. I can’t help it but keep thinking of the line ‘wham bam thank you ma’am’ on Ziggy Stardust. The Sentinel is expecting Batman to appear. I’m invited to make a presentation and give a warts and all picture of both the successes and the failings in housing. I make my rent increase/second homes tax/reformed housing benefits/dowry proposals. As with all of my audiences to date, the scale of the problem is recognised, they’d like to help but…can it wait a year or two? There is a mountain of competing demands and a conflict between the long term benefits that the airport will bring and the more immediate need for decent homes and other public establishments.

I just want to share another genuine day in the life out here.

It began with emails and Councillors reporting leaky pipes, poor housing conditions and an agricultural tenant wanting an extension to his tenancy.

A couple of hours are spent drafting procurement documents for the rewiring of Signal House, the most prominent house above James Bay, and a draw down contract for the 14 houses on Piccolo Hill.

We have another glitch on Half Tree Hollow to deal with. Some land has been sold which cuts right across the site for our exemplar home, without being picked up on the infrastructure design. I change the plot for the exemplar and we will need a rearrangement of a couple of plots to ensure that we do not lose a house or parking.

I don’t miss mobile phones – far from it – but it means that I have to traipse around town to find an elusive, very busy contractor. I find him on the wharf.

Tracy has a painful slipped disc and has been off for a while, so I call to see how she is and whether she’ll be back next week.

And to finish the day I’ve two unusual tasks. Firstly, as I mentioned last month, there are a number of houses whose addresses appear to vary from one database to another. This is because none are numbered and even the tenants are not sure what the numbers should be. Because everyone knows each other you don’t always need an address, but when it comes to rent accounting it matters. And as the Fire Service pointed out this week, if the fire alarm is going off, they want to know which flat or house is on fire (I’d have thought that the flames would be a clue). So I’m sticking numbers on houses. 

Finally I’m trying my hand at goatherding because several of our tenants’ goats are said to be causing a nuisance to the residents of a home for people with learning disabilities. Odelayee odelayee odelayhe o!

Thank god it’s Friday. After that every day and two dives, two tennis matches, five a side, a round of golf and a poker night in the Island Distillery (no joking!) this week I need an early night. No chance – I’ve offered to have a Star Trek night with some fellow geeks so the marathon starts at 6pm. LLAP.