December 12, 2008

Billionaire twins annoyed by vote on Sark

Two billionaire brothers who own much of Sark said Friday they are closing their hotels after their choices failed to win the British island's first election.

Sark, one of the Channel Islands, had been the last feudal principality in Europe. Sir David Barclay and Sir Frederick Barclay, who live on a nearby private island, advocated a turn to democracy but did not like the results, The Times of London reported. The Barclays own The Telegraph and Ritz Hotel in London along with one fifth of Sark and four of its seven hotels.

Many island residents who depend, directly or indirectly, on the twins for their livelihoods seemed ready to blame the voters.

We have lost our livelihood but don't blame them, said Paul Marriette, who rented his produce shop from the Barclays. A clique of people don't want them here and that's it.

Kevin Delaney, who manages the Barclay property on Sark, said the brothers planned to hold on to their real estate until voters elect a Chief Pleas, as the new legislature is quaintly known, conducive to investment.

The Channel Islands hug the French coast and are more French than British in culture and language. Sark has an area of 2 square miles and a population of about 600.