Thursday, December 29, 2011

New States of Jersey - New Year - but same old Scrutiny Secrecy and keeping the public at bay...

Why is this Agenda so badly presented here? Part of the technological problem is that Scrutiny web site information appears in a format that is only used by the States of Jersey and the planet Mars - so it is virtually impossible to download and use it. It is all part of the official inability to meet with the public and communicate. If the States want to have the latest programmes or IT gadgets they just go out and buy - mere mortals are not so fortunate and have to make do with ancient technology! This had to be scanned from a paper copy and then posted here - it would be so much better if it could be downloaded direct from somebody knows how?

Before 2011 is put into the political trash box it is necessary to consider just some of the secret decisions that Scrutiny Panels have been making during the closing days of the year. No doubt other big decisions have been made around the Council of Minister’s table but we can learn very little about them because these are ultra secret.
Certainly not suitable for the eyes and ears of mere voting plebs – unless of course Ozo can put a safe spin on them first.

However, the bare bones from Scrutiny meetings are made public in the published Agenda which have all – to date – been held in secret too.
As somebody who has submitted a long list of potential scrutiny topics I also have some knowledge, not generally made public, about matters which have already been discussed and rejected.

Technology willing, the Agenda of the secret Economic Affairs Scrutiny Panel for 21 December 2011 should appear on this blog (yes above). It was held in Le Capelain Room and closed to the paying public (under Standing Rule 138(6) of the SOJ Law for those who want to look up the feeble thinking of our past or newly elected Scrutineers).
In this case there were some important decisions to be made – not least the choice of future scrutiny topics.
This Panel is now constituted under Deputy Stephen Luce (Chair) with Constables Stephen Pallett and Michael Paddock so is brand new, through and through.
Although one item on the Agenda was the matter of the creation of the new “Jersey Business” (to replace both “Jersey Enterprise” and “Jersey Business Venture”) it is not known what was decided. Yours truly had also submitted a scrutiny topic on this matter too but what happened to it is not known and it usually takes months for Scrutiny minutes to be published.
Of course, if the public had been admitted to the meeting this would all be public knowledge – along with the Panel’s reasoning - and I could also have asked to address the Panel on the matters that I had written about. A member of the public might also have asked why it was felt necessary to have a day out in London to visit the House of Commons as the very first jolly of the new States?

In fact, this was not the first of the newly constituted Scrutiny Panels to meet because HSSH (Health, Social Security & Housing) had already met in secret on 13 December to consider such things as video recording by bloggers, the conduct of meetings, communications and correspondence from a Mrs Brand and yours truly.
We the mere public cannot know what Mrs Brand’s subject was but this new Panel rejected my topics;
1) Suicide & Self Harm 2) Respite & Care facilities 3) Pensions public & Private and
4) Discrimination & Human Rights
Suggestion number 4 had been passed on to HSSH by Corporate Services at a previous secret meeting (already discussed on a blog on this site) because nobody but nobody wants to grasp the Human Rights nettle.

An attempt to claim that my suggestion re Respite & Care had been accepted was in fact not correct because a much more limited scrutiny topic to consider respite for children and young people only had previously been embarked upon. This new Panel had already been milking the PR good message from this and ensuring that their visit to several “young persons” respite centres was fully announced in the established and unquestioning media.
This new Panel now consists of Deputy Kristina Moore as chair – so it will know how to milk the media to maximum effect – with Deputies Jackie Hilton and James Reed.

The next day – 14 December – the new Environment Scrutiny Panel met under (ex Planning Chief Officer) Deputy John Young as Chair, Deputy Stephen Luce Vice-Chair and Constable (ex Deputy) Philip Rondel (who formerly chaired this Panel). This meeting was in secret too of course to reject my scrutiny proposals as follows;
1) Provision of Public toilets and 2) Low Emission Transport.

So there we have it – the new super rejuvenated Scrutiny System has ended the bad old year and welcomed the New Year with much the same secrecy, non–engagement policies that have already brought the whole scrutiny process to its knees.

It is no coincidence that so few established States members are serving on the new panels because they have chosen to boycott the whole rotten system.

Just to let the public know – yours truly has submitted many more possible scrutiny topics and will publish the outcomes in due course. Don’t hold your breath as they say but my suggestions with regard to public hearings that cannot be heard – at election hustings, in scrutiny meetings, the courts etc etc – could find no home with any scrutiny panel so it was passed on to the Greffier of the States Mr Michael De La Haye to play with. He was also fobbed of with a whole bundle of my suggestions for improving the scrutiny process, better information about so many States Departments, access and the whole Complaints Board process (which also ought to include the fast asleep Trading Standards Department hidden away in the Market)…

Of course, at the Senatorial elections Jersey’s very own favourite Knight in shining “amour” aka  Philip Bailhache promised to reform so much that is wrong with our government and scrutiny in particular. We shall see - but yours truly will try to monitor any progress that is recordable with my most basic of devices in 2012.
Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Jersey's developing international identity - a Polish view from Leo Adamowicz

Not so many years ago polish pilots were flying Spitfires against a shared enemy. Then Poland became a part of Europe behind the Iron Curtain. Now Poland is part of the EU and Germany is the saviour of the European economy with France.
The world is constantly changing - little places like Jersey have to adapt and benefit from the opportunities that are presented. Currently immgration is a source of Jersey's well being and here Leo Adamowicz explains something of his life here.

Friday, December 16, 2011


Jersey’s government could soon be appearing in Strasbourg, though not to enjoy the fine skiing opportunities around this city in Eastern France.

This time it is the Island’s international reputation that will be exposed yet again to scrutiny. Now Jersey could be on trial as an alleged abuser of Human Rights before the
European Court
at the Council of Europe (which has nothing to do with the European Union although they used to share the same building).

Guernsey has appeared here already. I am delighted to have helped Gerald and Yvonne Gillow to present their successful housing rights case here when the snow was thick on the ground in 1986. Alas, they are now deceased and sadly missed.

But this will be a first for Jersey (no previous complaints having reached the Court) and it is the UK Government that has to share the international shame as the High Contracting Party for the backwards looking Crown Dependencies.

In fact, this will make the complete set because the Isle of Man was taken to the Court decades ago over its birching policies (see re Tyer 1978 v UK ECHR).

The process is especially important because the decisions that arise from such disputes in small places like these can have international implications. As we all know, even insignificant little dots on the map like Sark can harbour grievances that, once exposed, can cut down the ancient office of Lord Chancellor or even shake a Bailiff’s constitution – not to mention reforming local feudal institutions or government forms.

Now, Jersey is heading for the European Court of Human Rights because of defects at La Moye Prison. The particular case arises from the detention in 2008 of a 17 years old Jersey girl at HMP La Moye lacking proper and separate facilities for young males and females.
This youngster had been sentenced to11 months detention but there was no separate young offenders’ accommodation for females - unlike males.

Therefore, all female children served their sentences in an adult mixed prison.

During her detention this young female was bullied by other females, she shared a cell with an adult drug user and was harassed by an adult male prisoner.

She appealed her sentence before the Island courts and argued that serving her sentence in an adult prison was unlawful, ultra vires and in violation of Articles 5 (liberty and security) and 14 (discrimination) under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case is now being supported by the Howard League for Penal Reform and the AIRE Centre (Advice on Individual Rights in Europe Centre) as “interveners”.

Some people may remember the Human Rights conference I organised in conjunction with Highlands College many years ago at which AIRE Centre lawyers were the principle presenters.
The Howard League takes its name and purposes from John Howard the 18th century penal reformer who visited prisons all over Europe and campaigned for many years.
It is significant that the UK Lottery fund gave £2.6 millions to the League in 2009 specifically to establish a national programme of support for young people in custody.
John Howard’s work thus carries on after more than two centuries.

The Howard League produced a major report (2008) on child custody in Jersey at the instigation of (Senator) Stuart Syvret which made many recommendations; not least that Jersey must ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) like virtually every other territory in the world.
Of course, Jersey has still not done so and this issue, plus many more, was discussed with Senator Le Marquand – Jersey Home Affairs Minister – in the extensive (6 part) interview posted on this blog on 9 September 2011.
They will also feature prominently if the case is heard at Strasbourg where affluent places like Jersey are not given the same special dispensations as poverty stricken communities on other continents.

Clearly, Human Rights compliance was not a priority with Senator Le Marquand in previous administrations.  
It remains to be seen whether Senator Gorst as Chief Minister will demonstrate a keener interest in the subject but he will probably find that the Strasbourg experience will strengthen his enthusiasm for ratification and compliance.

The Jersey youngster – now a young woman working and living in the Island – has had the benefit of some very experienced lawyers.
In Jersey it is understood that Advocate Caitriona Fogarty of Ogiers was initially instructed - with Samantha Knights of Matrix Chambers in London advising
The legal arguments between Jersey Government and the litigant would now seem to have ended in stalemate. There has been no “friendly settlement” of this dispute – the usual preferred option at Strasbourg, which seeks to resolve disputes as far as possible, out of court.
Now all the legal arguments could be heard and Jersey’s penal, human rights and child welfare inadequacies subjected to international scrutiny. The papers will now be considered by a Judge at Strasbourg and if “admissible” proceed to the full hearing - but it is still possible that the matter will be dismissed in private.

This case will probably be discussed at a Jersey Human Rights Group meeting in the New Year. The legal arguments are complex and probably not yet in the general public domain so do not lend themselves to further analysis here. But if any of Jersey’s 250 lawyers or 51 States Members are tired of too much Xmas opulence, their comments would be especially welcomed here.

Meanwhile – Yippee…Strasbourg here we come!

Thursday, December 15, 2011


The new scrutiny season is underway. On 12 December the first Chairmen's Committee meeting took place - in secret of course - so nothing new there and the Agenda is published here (technology willing).
It is this Committee that lays down the procedures et al for the running of the other scrutiny panels and under the control of former Senator Shenton it became ever more bitter and twisted.

Praise the Lord, Shenton has now left the States and the Committee is now composed of;
President Deputy Vallois, Vice President Deputy St. Luce and Members Senator Ferguson with Deputies Macon, Young and Moore.

So apart from Sarah Ferguson (who also served as President briefly and was all in favour of secrecy and keeping the public and bloggers firmly in their place) this is more or less a new line-up of fresh faces.
Whether they will be capable of making fresh decisions and opening up the whole scruting process to full public participation and engagement will have to be seen. I have, of course, already written to the Committee and suggested many reforms that should be considered.

First on that list of reforms is of course that meetings must be open to the public. It is the usual farce that this discussion has now taken place in secret according to this agenda. Not a good start.

In fact it is a very important agenda. If there is any serious intent to make the scrutiny process effective then substantial reforms are needed throughout the system. These will only come into being if the named States Members here - speaking on our behalf - will  have the guts to standardize procedures and encourage more public engagement.

Scrutiny needs to be opened up so that it becomes an effective forum to examine critically the decisions and proposals of government. I have suggested too that scrutiny should also be opened up with a much wider terms of reference and be enabled to examine individual complaints against government behaviour. The existing Complaints  Board process for looking at States Administative Decisions is hopelessly inefective and cumbersome and should also be totally reformed too or scrapped.

So it will be interesting to discover what decisions this new Chairmen's Committe has made and what new initiatives these 6 States Members will offer us for Xmas from their collective £250,000 public payout?
: 12th December 2011: 2.00pm – 4.00pm: Le Capelain Room
The meeting is closed to the public under Standing Order 145(5) of the States of
1. To approve the minutes of the meeting of 22nd November 2011
2. To appoint a Vice-President
3. To consider the rĂ´les and responsibilities within Scrutiny and the PAC and agree the
future working practices of the Committee
4. To consider whether Committee meetings should be held in public or private
5. To consider matters for regular consideration by the Committee
6. To consider guidelines for Panels for working arrangements to standardise the process
7. To consider the following public engagement issues:
(i) Scrutiny Matters Newsletter
(ii) Home Life Exhibition
(iii) Citizenship Programme
8. To consider purchasing of Blackberries for Scrutiny Members
9. To consider amending the Ministerial Response template to encourage Ministers to
focus on Panel recommendations
10. To note opportunities for various working practices
11. To note opportunities available for scrutiny
12. To note outcomes of previous reviews into Scrutiny and the Code of Practice (excluding
13. To note existing protocols relating to Scrutiny:
(i) Standing Orders
(ii) Code of Practice
14. To note Chairmen’s Committee Legacy Report
15. To note Panels and PAC Legacy Reports
16. To note future training provision
17. To note matters in respect of the Scrutiny budget
18. To note meeting dates for 2012

Chairmen’s Committee

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Jersey Census Analysis - Statistics Unit follow-up - RARE FILM

I am pleased to post this rare film of the Jersey Stats Unit at work although it is not certain where or when this was recorded. It is believed to be a follow-up after a Census at some time or other and almost certainly has been used as the basis for important States policy formulation.

Special thanks to Agents Charlie and  Derek with the Jersey Camcorder Club - - for making this clip available, technical advice and translation from the monochrome Jerriaise original.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Today was the annual Soup Kitchen in Jersey’s royal square.
It has become an annual event to raise funds for Jersey’s homeless.

That it has become an annual tradition just before Christmas ought to say something about our little community. Should we be proud to care about homeless people in this Island in this way - or ashamed that they exist at all?

This year the problem is especially poignant because the ROSENEATH CENTRE will be closing at the end of December. This residential home caters for 30 adults and employs about a dozen specialist caring staff - but it’s being axed – for reasons which nobody seems to want to discuss.
It certainly was not a live issue around the square today where people were probably more interested in being seen among the right crowd doing the right thing.
Most of our politicians were there along with the Bailiff and others from the good and the great of Jersey with plenty of clerical collars on show.

We contacted Deputy Roy Le Herissier last week for an interview but he declined although he sits on the Roseneath Executive Committee that met last night.
He refused to say anything much more again today when we met him at the Soup Kitchen. He said that he was no longer on the Committee although he was at last night’s meeting (his membership is still listed in the Register of States Members Interests).
He blames the fact that the home was recently registered as the cause of its demise and could not afford to comply with improved and regulated standards. There is no hidden scandal he says – nobody has run off with the money because there isn’t any!

So, is it true that standards of care are so high that they put Roseneath out of business? If so, what chance for the Health Department’s grand plans for Care in the Community as published this year?
Who can afford to comply with such regulations and who could afford to be cared for?

We have also asked Roseneath management to speak with us but they have declined so far.
Everybody we ask talks about “resident confidentiality” when we ask where the 30 people are going after 31 December? We don’t want names of course – but we should like to know that they won’t be sleeping under hedges.

Even Senator Ozouf, the Treasury Minister came out with this same confidentiality line today at the Soup Kitchen when we asked. He said that it was not a question of money that the home was closing and that all residents were being re-housed. He had nothing to add regarding staff and their futures and was his usual smug self.

What about the buildings – who owns them?
Roseneath occupies two adjoining, large Regency houses in Springfield Terrace, Trinity Road.
One was donated free by the States and the pair are probably worth over £1.2 millions so Roseneath is at least asset strong.
No doubt the legal eagles aka vultures will soon be feasting on fees from this tasty legal morsel but what is the public interest in this valuable, useful property plus the missing 30 residents and staff?

Friday, December 2, 2011

SAM LALLY's Progress in Jersey, ANOTHER STEP...

We posted an interview by Thomas Wellard with Sam Lally on the
on 7 January this year.

Now that the year is drawing to a close we have taken the opportunity to speak again with Sam Lally for an up-date on his life.

As he reveals here, he has now moved back to Jersey and will be moving into new housing accommodation soon – just as soon as it has been adapted for his personal needs.

We note too that the Health Department proposes to encourage people to care for themselves in their own homes as part of the far-reaching reforms outlined in the May 2011 Discussion Document.

These proposals which include such things as constructing a new general hospital for Jersey have huge implications for all people in this Island - but especially for those like Sam Lally who depend so much upon public facilities and support.

Sam is very pleased to have returned to his unpaid job with a local store on one day per week and is involved with such organisations as JET (Jersey Employment Trust) and SPEAK OUT which, as he says here, offers a voice to disabled people.

We hope to return to him again and to open up the discussion so that other members of SPEAK OUT will participate and we hope that the group might soon have an inter-active blog site of its own.