Page last updated at 09:46 GMT, Thursday, 2 October 2008 10:46 UK

Last meeting of feudal government

Chief Pleas
The Chief Pleas will become an elected body in December

A chapter in Sark's political history, spanning 400 years has ended with the last meeting of the island's government in its current form.

The Chief Pleas, made up of 40 landowners and 12 deputies, will be replaced by 28 elected members after a general election in December.

Despite the changes, the meeting focused on current issues and raised tax on cigarettes and alcohol by 10%.

It rejected two propositions for change by the billionaire Barclay brothers.

Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, who live on the neighbouring island of Brecqhou, said the constitutional changes did not go far enough and amounted to a violation of human rights.

'Royal fief'

They sought a judicial review by challenging the role of the two hereditary posts of seigneur and seneschal which will still have an unelected role.

But the legal bid was rejected by the High Court in June.

Sark's feudal system of government dates back to 1565 when Queen Elizabeth I granted "letters patent" to the first seigneur to hold the island as a "royal fief".

The island is just three miles (4.8km) long and 1.5 miles (2.4km) wide, with a resident population of about 600.

It is also car free - horse-drawn vehicles, bicycles, tractors and battery-powered buggies are the only permitted forms of transport.

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22 May 08 |  Guernsey
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09 Apr 08 |  Guernsey

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