There is just one Scrutiny Panel meeting again this week.
The looming election in October might have perked-up our elected reps elsewhere- but it’s just that old end of term feeling around the
Jersey corridor of powwow.
There is also an awful smell of impending doom - almost a feeling that the whole Scrutiny system is about to be closed down and buried. Shock and horror indeed – but very low key. No need to panic.
What then should Deputies Le Herissier, Macon, Trevor Pitman and Tadier do during the lunch-break of a States Assembly meeting and where else should they meet and eat their sandwiches?
This Tuesday at 1.00pm the famous four assembled beneath the rare Le Capelains under the guise of the Education & Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel and had even managed to attach an Agenda outside of the room so that the public could know what was happening within. Just in case.
This was a first – but the promised copy agenda on the Panels gov.je website had not materialised as promised. That site was still advertising coming events for 2009 which was probably when the future for scrutiny last looked bright…
Now the Panel was just wrapping up old reports.
There was no time to initiate any new investigations before the election except there was a suggestion for a review looking at
Jersey pubs. Yours truly was allowed to interject here very briefly as the MOP (member of public) who had suggested it. But this had been referred onwards by the Economic Affairs Scrutiny Panel just before that Panel had imploded following the resignation of Chairman Deputy Higgins.
Nobody was keen to pick up the flag on this one – then Deputy Macon smashed a glass but it was not through excitement or a practical pub re-enactment. It seems that his eyes had just glazed over for a second and he lost his iron grip….but the percussive sound usefully jolted the teams’ attention to the next item…
The Scrutiny Panel newsletter is to be axed. That startling news is a bit of a blow because it is a great way to promote an election profile at public expense and a copy drops through every letter box in the
Island. Its all part of the CSR cuts and even Scrutiny has to do its bit apparently and the decision was made by the Chairmen’s Committee – now led by Sarah – who won’t need to be re-elected this autumn as a half-term Senator.
Ironically (or not) this is just the sort of saving that Sarah’s pet Pied Piper had been advocating at her recent Corporate Services Panel hearing. Nobody reads these government publications he said – they are a total waste of time and money and make pretence of engaging with the public whereas they actually do the opposite!
On this basis the entire report publishing basis of scrutiny is doomed since so few reviews are ever looked at although they are given away free of charge. No reports means no scrutiny… and what about all those other States sponsored publications like Consumer Matters or Harbour News or Changing States etc etc that are churned out for no clearly defined reason and how about Parish Mags and the plethora of glossy freebies that are handed out here there and everywhere…All good potential business for printers and publishers and “accredited journalists.”
Yet Planning are charging £35 for copies of the printed version of the revised Draft Island Plan – even to those who paid £25 for the first draft and even £5 for a disc!
That rant is just a thought from yours truly not the famous four who had moved on to discuss their Police Succession Planning report - about to be published.
This won’t include former CO Graham Power’s recent written submission although that will remain on the Panel’s web-site (seek and ye might find it). And they will write to the relevant Minister to find out why there has been no response to the Panel’s request for more information about Mr. Power and the Wiltshire Report….it goes on for ever.
But, shall we ever meet again? Can Scrutiny survive?