John Foster, Dean of the Douzaine
'Apathy' the reason for low turnout
After only 26 voters turned out in the St Sampson's Douzaine Elections in November 2008 we asked the Dean of the Douzaine why he thought the turnout was low.
John Foster is the Dean of the Douzaine in the Parish of St Sampson and he puts it down to "general apathy on the island".
He explained the current system in place: "Years ago it was decided that the douzaine elections would all be on the same evening to try and encourage people as the general election.
"Unfortunately just the general apathy seems to have crept in and people just aren't interested anymore in coming to the meetings and voting."
Figures at the general election in April 2008 put the population of the parish at 8,880 and those on the electoral roll at 4,848 meaning that the 26 who turned out was 0.54% of the electoral roll and 0.3% of the population.
Mr Foster said it is not good for the future of the douzaine: "People are going to see the apathy and say why should we bother putting ourselves up voluntary to do many hours of work for the parish and the community when no one seems to be bothered in backing us."
He said there is an attitude towards the douzaine: "Over the years it is being eroded, the work and the power of the douzaine, but we still have a vital role in the island."
He expressed concern that the voice of the average Guernseyman would be lost with the douzaine if it disappeared: "When the States departments are dealing with major projects and issues the small man in the street may be forgotten and that's why we're here to help.
"We get individuals complain about road works, possible developments in an area, we strive to help them find out what's happening." He added that the douzaine have more of a voice than an individual when speaking to States committees.
Mr Foster said that the future of the douzaine is an issue for "everybody, I think it is not just the States" but it is down to "the population if they want the douzaines to continue to serve them".
"I think a lot of people don't realise that we do this work voluntarily to help the parishioners... and unfortunately I don't think this message seems to have got through," he added.
last updated: 06/11/2008 at 16:45