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Battle is a spectacle we should be proud of and never take for granted

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THIS afternoon, the cry will go out: ‘Let battle commence!’

Gary Burgess

This time, it will have nothing to do with politicians gently inserting knives into each others’ backs, nor will it involve revelations about the contractual arrangements of the most senior of civil servants. Instead, it’ll be a show of what Jersey does best: working together.

For months now, volunteers have been working every hour that God sends to get their floats ready for the Battle of Flowers. From the teams and committees that come up with their show-stopping and creative ideas through to the small armies who then bring them to life, they are a credit to this Island.

Each year I watch Battle in awe of their work, but this year it’s really hit home with me just how much effort goes into the spectacle.

Last weekend we saw the Battle Ambassadors at the airport handing floral garlands to arriving passengers and sharing with them the joy of this floral-filled event.

There were the float teams working the lanes from their sheds, plotting the journey their creations will have to make to reach the arena on Victoria Avenue, giving up hours to cut back overhanging branches so there are no unexpected barriers en route. That’s right, it’s not just about designing and building a float, or showing it off during Battle, these people even clear the highways and byways for our entertainment.

And, tonight, once the crowds are long gone and the grandstands emptied, they’ll be – yet again – burning the midnight oil, festooning their floats in lights ready for tomorrow’s Moonlight Parade.

To credit all those involved in bringing Battle to life would be nigh on impossible. From the overall event organisers through to the volunteer marshals who’ve spent today showing people to their seats, this well-oiled machine is something to behold.

At a time when the tourism slump seems to have passed and visitor numbers are, again, beginning to pick up, having such a spectacle as part of Jersey’s summer season is something we should all be proud of and never take for granted.

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If anybody, in any corridor of power, was looking for an example of disparate communities coming together for the greater good, with little or no fuss and precisely the right attitude, the Battle of Flowers is it.

While Battle coincides with the high-water mark of the summer season, it’s also the time of year when our politicians – or at least some of them – are escaping the Island and local politics for a bit of a break.

They’re all back to work proper at the start of September when the States sittings resume. Meeting number one of the autumn term begins with a few odds and sods that should get waved through – the reappointment of members to an appeals tribunal and the ratification of a tax agreement – but there’s also a curious proposition from new politician Deputy Gregory Guida.

His ‘Public Impact of Propositions’ bill would force politicians to consider, upfront, the time and cost to ordinary Islanders of every idea they bring to the Assembly for debate. Having spoken to Deputy Guida myself, I get the impression he doesn’t expect his idea to be successful, while other politicians I’ve bumped into have pooh-poohed the concept as pointless and impractical.

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But it does beg the question, just what are politicians considering when they table propositions? While there is no obligation to do so, are they thinking about the impact on the environment, the impact on the poorest in our society, indeed on the reputational harm or benefit that may result from what they’re debating?

While there are some who appear quick to dismiss Deputy Guida’s proposition as something naive from a newcomer, perhaps this kind of fresh thinking could be of benefit to some of the old-timers who may believe they know more than they arguably do.

And, finally, a message to all those who’ve contacted me in recent weeks following my ‘whistleblower’ reports in this newspaper: thank you. Thank you to those who’ve shared their experiences. Thank you to those who’ve pointed me in the right direction when I’ve needed further information. And thanks to those who’ve simply been grateful that these stories are appearing in the pages of this newspaper.

I am also acutely aware that the good work of the majority of people working within the various services I’ve reported on can easily be forgotten amid the horrific accounts I’ve been sharing.

To those people, you too have my thanks. I have asked those in charge for the opportunity to visit you in your workplace and tell your stories. If and when they grant me access, it’ll be my privilege to shine a light on the life-changing work you do, day in, day out, too.

As ever, if you want to get in touch, I’m at gburgess@jerseyeveningpost.com

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