Parish Administration in Guernsey
The French term for dozen is used, as most parishes have twelve members (known as Douzeniers) elected from parish residents. The exceptions to this are: Vale which has sixteen, and St Peter Port which has twenty.
The Douzaine is therefore composed of twelve Douzeniers who make the decisions relating to parish business, and two Constables who carry them out.
Dean of the Douzaine
The Dean of the Douzaine chairs the Douzaine meetings.
Each Douzenier serves a term of Douzeniers serve a 6 year term, with two being replaced every year in rotation.
Each douzaine nominates a douzenier as parish representative to attend the meetings of the States of Deliberation.
There are two additional elected officers, the Senior Constable and Junior Constable. Each serve a term of three years, the longest serving being the Senior.
The Douzaine is based at either Constables’ Office or Douzaine Room in each parish .
In addition to income tax, each parish levies parish rates to cover the costs of services provided by the Douzaine:
- Owner’s Rate - determined according to the Rateable Value of the owner’s property
- Refuse Rate – based on Rental Value of a property, used to pay for refuse collection
Areas of Responsibility
The Douzaine and Constables have the following responsibilities:
- Administration of Allotments - for those parishes who have them
- Beaches - determine any bathing restrictions, access for dog walkers and launch requirements for water craft
- Boat Moorings - The constables control the moorings around the island’s coastline (except for the main harbours in St Peter Port and St Sampsons which are managed by the Guernsey Harbour Authority). See Guernsey Harbours and Moorings for details.
- Gambling Control - the Constables comment on applications to the States Gambling Committee for permission to hold Crown and Anchor games (a traditional dice game played at the annual agricultural shows)
- Inspection of betting shops
- Salles Publiques - the Constables are able to prevent any films or live performances that they consider to be contrary to good morals or obscene.
- Inspection of licensed premises
- Fireworks - authorisation of public firework displays
- Dog Licensing - a license is required for all dogs aged over 6 months. Currently £10 per dog.
- Planning Permission - known as bornements which must be obtained from the constables before any alterations to property within 9m of a public highway
- Highways - the constables are responsible for ensuring that they are kept clear, in particular:
- Hedgerows are inspected twice a year (June and September) to ensure that they do not prevent access. They also check for the presence of noxious weeds.
- Servitudes - checking streams, douits and other water courses are kept clear by their owners to minimise risks of flooding
- Ensure no barbed wire on any boundaries adjoining a public road, and appropriate permission is sought for obstructions such as skips, scaffolding and advertising
- Health & Safety
- Cisterns and Quarries - ensuring Cisterns and Quarries are adequately fenced so that they are not a danger to the public
- Dangerous Buildings
- Places of Worship - ratepayers (chefs de famille) responsibility for maintenance of parish churches
- Refuse Collection & Recycling - service managed by the douzaine, paid for by the Refuse Rate
- Sunday Trading - the Constables administer the system to issue licenses for Sunday Trading
- Vraic collection - the ancient right to collect vraic from the beaches is permitted from 15 July to 15 April
Douzeniers serve a 6 year term, with two being replaced every year in rotation. Constables serve up to 3 years, and can be re-elected.
Douzeniers are also responsible for the supervision of polling stations during parochial and general elections.
- Ogier, Darryl, The Government and Law of Guernsey, States of Guernsey, 2005
- Priaulx, TF, Secular Parish Administration in Guernsey, Quarterly Review of the Guernsey Society, Summer 1966
- Priaulx, TF, The Ecclesiastical Side of Parish Administration (“The Trésor”), Quarterly Review of the Guernsey Society, Spring 1968
- Guernsey Press > Island Life
- Parish Life - States of Guernsey web site
- Other Parish Matters - States of Guernsey web site