With winter turning to spring, there was a temporary pause from high covid cases but not covid news, with more individuals and businesses caught breaking the rules, the Government clawing back support over-payments and ‘reconnection’ still taking place.
It was also the quarter that fishing took centre-stage and the island’s long-nurtured relationship with its closest neighbour became severely strained, all because of Brexit, which Jersey had had no say on.
But suddenly, we became the main event…
In one of the most bizarre legal twists of the year, a former town jeweller convicted of money laundering proposed “trial by combat” to determine his appeal.
Darius Pearce had perhaps watched too much Game of Thrones in proposing this most medieval of dispute settlement, or maybe he thought the Bailiff, who has an interest in battle reenactment, might be interested.
In any event, his idea was, to paraphrase General Melchett, pooh-poohed by the Court, as was his appeal.
In an awkward fusion of poignant, if slightly weird, protest and male stag-do style bravado, one of the ‘Red Rebel’ climate change protesters was pushed into the sea at West Park by a young male, clearly under dare instructions from his mates.
It was one of those “do you laugh or cry” moments. While some found the incident funny, others argued there was nothing “amusing” about it, branding the man’s actions as “vile” and pointing out the experience must have been “frightening” for the individual involved who could have been injured.
Pictured: One of the climate-change-protesting Red Rebels was about to get a soaking.
Fortunately uninjured, the anonymised rebel carried on walking around the marine lake wall, no doubt muttering “little sodden” or something similar. The Red Rebels dress and perform as they do to prompt action, but probably not the quick-shove type.
If climate change scientists are right, mankind will need make a concerted push to reverse its damaging past behaviour.
2021 will be remembered for the ‘Great Jersey Fishing Dispute’ or whatever history chooses to brand it. One of its many high-points, or low points depending on your point of view, was in May, when a fleet of angry French fishermen sailed to St. Helier to protest over licences.
The source of the protracted, confusing, and at-times bizarre diplomatic spat – as yet unresolved – was Brexit, and in particular the speed at which a trade deal was agreed between the UK and EU last December.
Like waiting after a flash of lightning, it took time for the boom to arrive, and when it reached French shores, suddenly politicians and fisherman woke up to what their compatriot Michel Barnier had signed. And they didn’t like it.
Pictured: On one mad day in May, Jersey became the global focus of post-Brexit tensions.
Jersey, meanwhile, had interpreted the trade deal and followed its terms. It then issued fresh licences based on the new provisions. And the French didn’t like it.
The May protest certainly served to show France’s confused anger, but it also forced Jersey to delay implementation of some the new regime.
It also prompted French Fisheries Minister Annick Girardin to threaten to cut Jersey’s power supply. She didn’t because she couldn’t, but it did add to the “you couldn’t make it up” narrative of early May, complete with musket-firing militiamen, goading millionaires and gunboats circling in the misty distance.
In April, the three-year ‘Bridging Island Plan’ was launched. Despite it only covering three years instead of the normal ten, it generating thousands of comments, most of them calling for parts of it to change.
In many ways, the plan is symbolic of just how congested and contested Jersey is in 2021. Gone are the days when a tucked away field could be developed without people really noticing or caring. Those spaces just don’t exist anymore.
Instead, every vergée is fought over: farmers don’t want to lose them, environmentalists want to protect them, neighbours like them just how they are.
In particular, a field in St Peter that a nearby quarry wants to expand into received the most attention, with hundreds of people expressing their concern that this tree-lined expanse could become a large rocky hole.
Proposals to build houses on farmed fields in St. Helier and St. Saviour also caused outrage.
And yet the Island has a ‘housing crisis’, or more to the point, a supply and demand crisis. One suspects that until demand is managed, fractious battles over supply will only intensify.
In what must have been one of the most under-reported major international spats in 2021, the Chief Minister told US President Joe Biden to “look closer to home” before demanding global tax reforms.
Specifically, Senator John Le Fondré was referring to the fiscal laws of President Biden’s home state of Delaware, where a one-storey building in Wilmington is home to 300,000 (clearly very small) companies.
Clearly the Senator’s words hit home because President Biden was not heard to utter another word about tax, until a global agreement was reached to tax big companies at 15% as a minimum.
Jersey said it was happy for that to happen because big multinationals like Amazon didn’t use Jersey anyway.
John 1 – Joe 0.
In June, ministers came under pressure with the rapidly rising numbers of islanders in self-isolation because they were a direct contact of a positive case. By mid-month, almost 800 people were in quarantine.
Back then, in those heady days when two doses meant you were fully vaccinated, there were strong calls for double-jabbed people to be exempt from isolation.
In the end, ministers changed the rules to mean that ‘DCs’ didn’t have to isolate as long as they signed up to be tested and didn’t show symptoms.
It was another twist in the long journey of this most pervasive and, quite frankly, irritating virus.
The Lions rugby squad landed in Jersey in June to train for their South African tour. For a sport famed for its rules, Covid compliance seemed to come naturally and the squad dutifully got on with their preparations, including a few publicity friendly activities such as having their second dose of vaccine.
They were also able to ‘relax’ in a £150k cryotherapy chamber, which had earlier looked like it would be a casualty of the fishing crisis until a temporary thaw in relations which allowed it to be shipped from France.
Pictured: Some of the biggest stars in rugby came to Jersey to train ahead of the Lions Tour of South Africa.
Schoolchildren, fans and those wondering what all the fuss was about thronged to St. Peter to see training sessions and practice games.
One islander had a particular reason to celebrate the visit. Graphic designer Charlotte Curry’s brother Tom was in Warren Gatland’s squad so had a change to catch up with her sibling.
Some of the Lions also retuned to Jersey after the tour, which they lost 2-1, not only to recuperate but also take advantage of the island’s less-stringent border regulations.
The annual Sunday Times Rich Lists revealed that the seven richest Channel Island residents held more than £17 billion between them – enough to build just 17 hospitals.
Holding the title for the richest in the Channel Islands were the Brecqhou-based Barclay family, whose wealth fell £1 billion over the year to £6 billion (6 hospitals).
Jersey-based Glenn Gordon and his family was worth £3.595 bn, according to the list (3 hospitals and a car park) while husband and wife Chris and Sarah Dawson were equal 79th on with an estimated fortune of £2.05 bn (2 hospitals and a cycle path).
January to March: Constable, CEO and unwelcome visitor exits