Page last updated at 23:24 GMT, Thursday, 11 December 2008

Sark gets first elected leaders

Sark voter
The very high turnout of 87% meant counting went on into the early hours

The first fully democratic government has been elected to serve the people of the Channel Island of Sark.

Until Wednesday, Sark was the western world's last feudal bastion, with power mostly held by tenants (landowners).

From the 474 residents on the electoral roll, 412 voted in one polling station to elect the 28-strong Chief Pleas.

But it was followed by news 100 jobs or more will go as the Barclay Brothers, who wanted more radical reforms, are to pull out of the island.

Because of the high turnout of 87%, Wednesday's count at the Island Hall continued until the early hours before preliminary results were announced by Sark Seneschal Lt Col Reg Guille in his role as returning officer.

The final results were not released until Thursday evening following a recount because voting for the final seat was so close.

Billionaires 'not appreciated'

Fourteen of the conseillers (members) will serve a four-year term of office. They are: Rossford De Carteret; Helen Magell; Antony Dunks; Stephen Henry; David Pollard; Andrew Prevel; Elizabeth Dewe; Sandra Williams; Paul Williams; Richard Dewe; Paul Armorgie; Charles Maitland; Ann Atkinson; Christine Audrain.

The remainder, who will serve for two years, are: David Cocksedge; Helen Plummer; David Melling; Christopher Bateson; Edric Baker; Diane Baker; Andrew Cook; Michelle Perree; Christopher Nightingale; Janet Guy; John Hunt Anthony Ventress; Stefan Gomoll; Peter Cole.

The Barclay brothers

Earlier in the day, the billionaire Barclay brothers, who own neighbouring Brecqhou and land on Sark, began shutting down their businesses on the island, which include hotels, restaurants and some shops.

It followed the release of preliminary results showing many anti-reform candidates had been elected.

Sir David and Sir Frederick, 73-year-old twins, have pushed for democracy on the island and challenged the unelected posts of seigneur and seneschal, which have remained despite the election.

Their lawyer, Gordon Dawes, told the BBC: "Today, via their agents in Sark, they [the Barclay brothers] have authorised and decided to close down their ongoing operations in Sark as a result of an election last night of a majority of the new assembly which is called Chief Pleas who are standing on very much an anti-Barclay platform".

He added: "It was clear the Barclays were clear on their commitment to the island with support - they got no support at all.

"Sark doesn't appear to want or appreciate the Barclays' investment and so it doesn't have it."

Others on the island were positive about the vote.

Shirley Carre was a social anthropologist from Rochester, New York, who came over from the US in the 1960s to study Sark's feudal system.

She met and married Henry Carre, who was the island's constable and has lived on the island ever since.

The 84-year-old said she had been in favour of the change to democracy and Wednesday's election had been "the icing on the historic cake".

"We needed some new blood. Some of them may be inexperienced, but that's not a concern - if they're smart enough they'll learn quickly," she said.

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