The Douzaine in St Pierre du Bois
Each Parish has a Douzaine that has a slightly different structure although the responsibilities are fundamentally the same. In St Pierre du Bois the Douzaine consists of twelve Douzeniers – each of whom has a voting right, and two Constables – a senior, who acts as a chairman of the Douzaine meetings and the junior, who acts as his or her deputy. The Constables have no voting right and act as the executive office of the Parish. All are elected positions, are voluntary and with no salary attached, though both Constables receive a small sum in lieu of expenses. The Dean of the Douzaine is the most senior Douzenier who through knowledge and experience chairs the Parish meetings. The Parish Clerk is a paid employee of the Parish who undertakes the day to day running and correspondence of the Parish.
There are several committees and sub-committees which the Douzaine either oversees or has an attendance on. These include the Parochial Properties committee, Boat Moorings committee and the Parish Rectory committee. In addition, a Douzenier currently sits on the Parish Cemeteries Committee.
The Douzaine has responsibility to ensure the smooth running of the Parish and also provides a conduit for information in each direction between States’ bodies and Parishioners. Some of the tasks are historical but many are of more recent times.
To fund the functions of the Douzaine, ‘Parish Rates’ are currently raised on a ratio based on the TRP value for properties and land in the Parish. The Douzaine is responsible for raising the rates for both secular and ecclesiastical purposes. The Douzaine has no immediate control over the latter which are raised on behalf of The Church through the People’s Warden and are for maintenance of the external fabric of the Parish Church and Rectory. The secular rates in St Pierre du Bois are largely for the collection and disposal of refuse, the running and maintenance of the Parish properties, the Clerk’s salary and the general running cost of Parochial responsibilities. Because the Douzaine is run by elected, non-salaried members, most of the responsibilities of the Douzaine are carried out without any additional charge to the Parishioners.
The Parish refuse and now recycling is undertaken by a sub-contractor whom the Parish pays. The States’ refuse tip charges are also paid for by the Parish.
The overseeing of the twice-yearly cutting and clearing of hedges, banks and douits occurs in June and October and as tradition and the law insists they are ‘walked’ (now often in a car) and failure to comply noted and acted upon by the Constables on instruction from the four Chef de Canton. The link below shows the Canton divisions in the parish and the relevant Douzeniers, who you can contact if you have any questions. If you are unsure of which Canton your property falls in, please contact the office.
The Parish owns several buildings including the Douzaine building, Post Office, car park and Community Hall. These have to be maintained and let/rented with rental income offsetting the rates.
The sea defences are checked regularly by the Douzaine and reported back to the States’ department.
Multiple smaller tasks such as Liquor Licences and Dog Tax are policed by the Douzaine. Permits and Bornements are issued for building and ground works.
The Douzaine acts as a ‘sounding board’ on proposed States’ policy on issues that may affect the Parish and also as a conduit for Parishioners’ views.
Another task is to discuss any representation from Parishioners and subject to the Douzaine’s decision, to act accordingly.
The Douzaine meets monthly, usually on the last Monday before the last Wednesday of every month, except in August. Alternative dates are scheduled for those months with a Bank Holiday and in December. The Constables meet with the Clerk every Tuesday throughout the year apart from holidays.
For more information on Douzaines in Guernsey see: http://www.cwgsy.net/private/s_langlois/index.html