Douzaines and Constables
The States of Deliberation (commonly known as “The States”) is the island’s parliament. In addition to parliament and central government, are local administration areas known as parishes.
The administration of each parish is carried out by an elected council of residents called the Douzaine. Douzeniers, the residents who work as volunteers for each parish Douzaine, are elected every four years.
A Douzaine Committee is typically made up of twelve members (as the name suggests, this comes from the French word “Douze” or twelve). There are two exceptions to the number of members in the Douzaine, these being the largest parish of St Peter Port and the parish of the Vale (which was once two parishes), which have more Douzeniers.
Each Douzaine meets monthly to discuss parish matters – there are eleven full meetings of the Douzaines each year.
The Douzaine is responsible for the vision, the direction, transparency and engagement of parish affairs. There is a Dean of the Douzaine and a Vice-Dean. Each parish also has two Constables who are elected residents of that parish. All are non-salaried positions.
The Douzaine also acts as a ‘sounding board’ on proposed States’ policy on issues that may affect the parish and also as a channel for parishioners’ views. To fund the functions of the Douzaine, residents pay ‘parish rates’. These are currently raised on a ratio basis on the Tax on Real Property (TRP) value for properties and land in the parish.
Constables are elected to serve for terms of up to three years; they carry out the day-to-day administration of parochial affairs, on behalf of the Douzaine.
The Constables are responsible for the collection and disbursement of local taxes and duties, the maintenance of parish assets, and the efficiency of parish management. The Constables, in consultation with the Dean and assisted by the parish secretary, organise the tasks of the parish year, propose the structure and timetable of parish business, draw up agendas for meetings, including regular reports from Douzaine sub-committees to the full Douzaine, provide the Douzaine with information, and keep the records including the accounts.
Among the many varied duties, this includes, the overseeing of the twice-yearly cutting and clearing of hedges, banks and douits, which occurs in June and October.
- Administer parish cemeteries
- Maintain wayside pumps and troughs
- Collect parish rates
- Issue dog licences and collect dog tax
- Manage parish boat moorings