Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sarah’s Scrutiny Show was a bit subdued this week – now that the Pied Piper has left town. At least the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel public meeting was only 10 minutes late starting at 9.40 a.m. and it’s the only scrutiny show in town this week.

The mystical tunes still lingered though and there was competition in a rambling, casual sort of way between Senators Ferguson, Perchard and Deputy Le Fondre to express the most Thatcherite, reactionary views…

The proceedings had a somewhat surreal, temps passé, the party’s over feel  - as though nobody quite knew why they were there but all wanted to be somewhere else – in a different time zone perhaps.

Senator Breckon was bugging them a bit – misrepresenting what the Panel had written in a previous Report to support his anti-GST Proposition….but he does not understand taxation…we should keep our powder dry on this they agreed.

How come that people from Poland and Madeira and the UK are still arriving in Jersey and getting jobs whilst there is so much local unemployment? – was one theme.
The Social Security bill is now £170 millions and growing all the time – how much is paid out in benefits? How much was paid out in 2004/5? We must stamp on the increasing outgoings…
There is no incentive to return to work if benefits are so high – what we need is information on trends…there are plenty of jobs…
And we need to watch what happens in the EU too because the French are wanting to introduce border controls against Italy and we cannot in Jersey because we are bound by the terms of Protocol 3…we need a legal opinion on this and accurate figures…

They also wondered about secret negotiations between Jersey and the UK and outside influences over the Fulfilment Industry and Zero Ten…there are lots of rumours and leaks…

It was better under the old Parish welfare system, there was more control then and it’s not fair that some departments like Planning are not cutting costs at all but simply increasing charges and carrying on as normal…and there are more external consultants  now than ever and Education have 14 internal reviews going on…

And there were more leaks and rumours…had Chief Executive Officer Ogley  resigned  or was he dismissed…what settlement was made…was it in accordance with his contract or was it like Mr Pollards “in house” settlement?…we are getting fed up with this …the public has the right to know…and how will his successor be appointed…we should  consult with employment law specialists…but that will mean more external consultants…our question to the Chief Minister should be  on the Departure and Replacement of the Chief Executive Officer and the Re-Structuring Plan…

What else does the CM do? How about Probity and conflicts of interest? Does the CM or other Ministers sign up to a Code of Practice? What training or instruction do they receive on appointment…what advice is given to them or Assistant Ministers…and what name do you prefer to be called by Senator Perchard?

The meeting ended at 11.10a.m.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


There’s a new Pied Piper in town and Sarah has fallen in love with him.
Well, any man who says he can reduce government costs by 20 to 40% is sure to get the Senator’s attention but when he also promises to change the whole management structure – with the involvement of the workforce!
Well now you are talking big boy!!!

Unfortunately, this latest guru to hit the world looks too much like the second coming of Leslie – “don’t call me Shirley “ – Nielson to be taken seriously - but even our very own Miss Piggy of politics was visibly charmed…

Unfortunately there was the usual messy pre Scrutiny Panel foreplay to spoil the presentation of Prof. John Seddon MD for yours truly.

The public meeting was scheduled and advertised to commence at 2.15pm in the Blampied Room so yours truly was there at 2.05pm to be sure of a good seat – by which time the meeting appeared to have already commenced.

Then, out-popped the scrutiny officer to apologise that she had advertised 2.15pm in good faith but it had been put back to 2.30pm due to unforeseen circumstances. Yours truly would just have to wait…

At 2.30pm yours truly and the sole JEP photographer were admitted to the room where the meeting had evidently been in full swing for more than 25 minutes – with the public excluded.

So what you might ask, who cares – but the fact is that these Scrutiny Panel meetings are supposed to be an essential part of the Ministerial government system in Jersey and they are supposed to take place – for the most part – in public and at times and locations that are certain  and pre-advertised.

Obviously, a bus service could not be run on such a hit or miss basis – why insult the public with something as important as government being run on such a casual basis?

Once again, the SECRECY issue has to be raised. What discussions took place behind closed doors over Sarah’s sandwiches before the public and press were admitted and who took this decision to re-arrange things?

On Sarah’s Facebook site she was apparently inviting the public to attend the meeting at 2.30pm long beforehand –so it was not a last minute decision because her guest witness had had to land an airplane in an emergency or something. Even her best friend Jerry Dorey (remember him?) had posted comments there on the new messiah well in advance. So why the need to have a meeting in secret at all? Something to hide anybody?

It was not a very good start for John Seddon in Jersey. An officially sponsored deceit with a meeting in secret – hardly sounds like engaging with the entire workforce from top to bottom….

As it turned out, Senators Ferguson, Perchard, Deputy Le Fondre and two “panel advisers” listened to the fast talking witness until 3.55 p.m. They seemed to be mesmerised by the magic tunes.

As usual the standard of questioning was infantile with Deputy Le Fondre barely able to express a coherent sentence. Perchard tried to conceal his obvious disbelief at the message being spouted but if he thought it too good to be true, he declined to say so.

Poor Sarah on the other hand just could not get enough – she was left gasping for ever more counter intuitive management methods and sharp sounding savings strategies. This Pied Piper could have asked for any reward to rid Jersey of its failed systems of government from this Senator – but what a pity that he was not invited to address the problems of the Scrutiny System itself.

Many questions need to be asked.
Why does the public show so little interest in Scrutiny activities and why do the panels churn out report after report that nobody reads? Could John Seddon have answered these puzzles?

And, who exactly invited this witness and paid his expenses because he clearly had no knowledge that was specific to Jersey. Was this occupational psychologist just on a sales trip for Vanguard Consulting Ltd and have we, the paying public already bought his piping services?

Whilst on the subject – yours truly also called at the States Greffe bookshop – laughingly called the States of Jersey Information Centre or something equally absurd  - to inspect the States Members “Statement of Interests” volume.
Deputy Mike Higgins’ entry states (page 1) “I am a director of Jersey International Air Display a.p.i. (not remunerated).”
Yet (on page 2) he writes;
“In the organising of the Jersey International Air Display I am employed under a contract of service for which I receive remuneration…”

I was puzzled by the contradicting information and asked the bookshop staff if I might photocopy the document. NO was the answer. You are only allowed to take notes.

There is something very sadly wrong in Jersey with regard to States Members, access to public information and meetings and things that should not be SECRET.


Thursday, April 7, 2011


Today’s meeting of the JDCSPCSSSP was due to start at 3.30 pm and the team players were all ready to start at 3.15pm. This in itself is unusual. Yours truly should have feared the worst.

The atmosphere was a bit like the rutting season in scrutiny-land, with the sheep baring their molars and smiling in a funny sort of way….

As a precaution, yours truly had asked Ken Soar, today’s lamb for the slaughter, if he objected to being vide-recorded. Not at all, he said. I welcome it. The more transparency the better! His assistant from the Appointment’s Commission (James Morris -a surprise and previously un-announced extra witness) agreed.

What a corker yours truly thought – but only very briefly, - because Deputy Le Fondre then leapt out of the Blampied Room sanctum, introduced himself in a matey sort of way and ushered Ken Soar out into the Royal court lobby where they talked for a few minutes “privately.”

The formal Scrutiny game then commenced.
The JEP man took a few happy snaps and left. Yours truly interjected politely that since the witnesses had agreed to be video-recorded, would this be permitted?

Amazingly, Ken Soar and his assistant (who was now sitting like an old Scrutiny Panel pro at the top table and not among the public where he surely belonged) had had complete brain-transplants because they now no longer agreed to be video-recorded.

What on earth had happened in just a few minutes? Had they been nobbled, - and if so by whom? And wasn’t that what this Scrutiny Sub-Panel was about! Oh no – not a plot within a plot….

Deputy Le Fondre (who seemed to be getting ever-higher on his seat) played the same record about official anti-recording policy or Sarah’s Curse or something the same as yesterday and Deputy Le Herissier and Senators Le Gresley, Perchard and Breckon all looked blankly and silently at their thumbs…

Le Fondre started the balling – mostly under-arms - and Ken Soar had no difficulty in bouncing him to the boundary every time.

Scoring was appropriately the first issue for polite discussion. Apparently a unique three Panels interview process had been established with candidates (one chairperson and 5 nodding donkeys were to be selected) to be marked on a 0 to 5 scale. The issue whether there were enough local candidates - or did being a local person trump competence - was also subject to some consideration. But the witnesses stressed that they were adamant that they had got this one right, it was politically impartial “in spades.”

In fact the witnesses stressed that their whole remit is to PREVENT POLITICAL INTERFERENCE but they were somewhat confused why this selection process had become such a focus for political interference including being subject to examination by a political scrutiny panel!!
Candidates from the UK did not appreciate the level of political interference in Jersey they said and many civil servants returned unhappily and prematurely to the UK because of it. No names of course.
This might be something to discuss in private they suggested…

Then the witnesses proceeded to explain that some scoring was evidently skewed – completely biased in fact, with regard to the NEDs. They had never seen anything like it – scores of straight 5s were previously unknown in the history of the world. One candidate – who was appointed, was in fact, according to the witnesses, totally unacceptable for the job. During the interviews this (local) candidate was asked what expertise he could bring to the task and had answered “none.” No wonder he was appointed.

At one meeting, Chief Minister Le Sueur had claimed that the Appointments Commission was there to “provide political oversight” but Ken Soar had corrected him that their role was “sight” not “oversight.” It’s a very subtle game in staff selection these days!

Regarding the communist plot revealed yesterday, the witnesses explained that the high calibre candidates from the UK were compromised there by Olympic building projects and so were gagging to come to Jersey.
Also, peers of the realm are not used to being subject to an interview process and don’t respond to newspaper adverts they explained. So they are captured by head-hunters.

There was no public discussion of the “Baroness” and how she might now be replaced. The witnesses did though reveal that they would not do it the same way again, that all politicians were advised that all the paperwork is confidential and should have been destroyed, and that some e-mail communications were probably contrary to Data Protection laws.
The witnesses confirmed that they would make some information from the paperwork available to the Panel in private session only and subject to future confidentiality. And, yes – they still had the score-cards which would normally be destroyed after a year.

The witnesses revealed that are paid at the rate of £340 per day as Appointments Commissioners, have no offices and work mostly from home with some admin provision through the HR Department of the States. There is confusion over some aspects of their responsibilities and accountability. They were not asked if they were being paid to attend before the Panel.

The witnesses confirmed that if the process had appointed Donald Duck then the States could have declined him but that this was one of the several types of incidents where political interference and the related processes needed to be further examined. The “Supremacy of the States” as employer raises certain issues of conflict. Yours truly wondered if Donald had ever been approached by the head-hunters.
Following the concerns regarding these appointments and setting up of this Scrutiny Panel, Ken Soar said he had offered to resign but had been persuaded to stay in post and wait and see what the Report says…..

At 5.25 p.m .the Scrutiny Panel went into Private session to look at two pieces of paper and to discuss any further matters arising. Will they take the lid off the SECRETS BOX?
Shall we ever know?

No announcement has yet been made about any future exciting hearings before this sub-panel but we can only hope that it goes on and on for many weeks to come. We want so much to see and hear our Chief Minister being put to the question and coupled with Pip Rondel’s explanation, this must surely provide the plot for many a festive parish pantomime to come.

Scrutinizers’ scores  0 - 5
Deputy Le Fondre 0 Le Herissier 2 Senator Breckon 0 Le Gresley 1 Perchard 1


Wednesday, April 6, 2011


The SECRET SEVEN were in action again from 1.15 p.m. today - in between sessions of the States Assembly.

This time it was Constable Dan Murphy of Grouville who was “put to the question” as key witness before the feared Jersey Development Company Selection Process Corporate Services Scrutiny Sub-Panel - or JDCSPCSSSP for short.

Today there weren’t actually seven tormentors –only Deputies Le Fondre, Le Herissier and Senators Perchard and Le Gresley with just one “Scrutiny Officer” around the “operations table.” Another “officer” deftly worked the electronic control panel from a discreet distance - out of sight of the witness.

Although the session was supposedly open to the public – nobody except yours truly had the nerve to attend the X rated proceedings.

Before entering the sealed room (which only has one doorway) we asked Dan if he agreed to be video-recorded. He said he was very happy for this and was all in favour of total transparency. Yours truly was pleasantly surprised. Perhaps Dan is not so desperate after all?

Unfortunately, Deputy Le Fondre over-ruled the Constable’s wishes and declared that there could be no video-recording and there was no time to explain his reasoning which was also the view of the sub-panel.

Deputy Le Herissier tried to disagree - saying that he had no objection - but Senators Perchard and Le Gresley said nothing whilst looking blankly at their thumbs.

The “Scrutiny Officer” also claimed that the Chairmen’s Committee had ruled about twelve months ago that such public meetings could not be vide-recorded.

Yours truly tried to counter-object of course but the SECRET SEVEN minus Two’s leader said they were not going to waste time discussing it now…..

It’s all very strange because the room has large windows overlooking the
Royal Square
where real, ordinary people can be seen going silently about their lives. Why oh why don’t any look up and see what horrors are taking place here in their name?

Constable Murphy was asked to give his name – which as it turned out was probably the most searching question of the day.
It then transpired that he had also been invited to play a part in the same mysterious Selection games as Senator Sarah. He had wanted to see the “long list” of candidates for the job of Chairman for the Jersey Development Company rather than just the “short list” because the names on that were all former UK LABOUR PARTY APPARATCHIKS!!!

Even Le Fondre looked shocked at this startling revelation of a possible Communist inspired Plot deep at the heart of Jersey government.
Could this be pay-back time for the reciprocal heath agreement deal yours truly wondered?

The Constable knew that there were fourteen names on the original “long list” but he wanted to know who the discarded ones were, why had they been rejected and were there any Jersey people amongst them? But, on the short list the “Baroness” was so far ahead of the other apparatchiks that there was really no contest. The result was obvious even before the meetings took place….Spooky eh? What now – with the Baroness in a sulk and the chair still empty?

As for the Non-Executive Directors – NEDs or Nodding Donkeys in common parlance – Dan had wanted more local names and he knew somebody who would be ideal but was not even considered. Jersey’s very own-breed apparatchik perhaps?

However, Constable Dan thought that the whole procedure was handled professionally although the cost of employing “head-hunters” was excessive.
He did not know why Pip Rondel from St. John was so afraid to speak in public…

Then at 2.00 p.m. precisely, Deputy Le Fondre suddenly declared that there was just one more question to ask and that could only be dealt with IN PRIVATE.
Yours truly had to leave.
The GREAT SECRET would not be exposed today.

Tomorrow, Thursday, Mr. Ken Soar is billed to appear before the SECRET SEVEN. What SECRETS might he reveal?

Yours truly cannot wait…SCRUTINY is just so exciting.


Monday, April 4, 2011


DEPUTY BOB HILL presented yet another Complaints Board today on behalf of a member of the public (or more correctly a family) from Trinity.

As is so often the case, it was against the administration of the Planning Department and concerned an enforcement order requiring the demolition of a boundary wall.

Few people will realise just how much work is involved in putting together a case for such a simple-sounding hearing by the likes of Bob Hill or the amount of stress that is caused to those who have the grievance.

Yet, in Jersey, only about a dozen such cases make it each year to a full Board hearing and some might conclude that this reflects the high standards of our various government departments.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, there should be hundreds of such cases heard each year for a population of 92,000 but the whole system of Jersey government and administration is loaded against the public.
Complaints are actively discouraged at all levels so that the construction of a simple wall can become the issue that ruins lives, destroys friendships and breaks any trust with the political system.

Obviously, the basis for a complaint might be simple, complicated, not so serious or a matter of very great importance and/or cost.

Yet, sadly, Jersey’s Complaints Board procedure is totally inadequate to deal with the myriad of irritations that arise each and every day between the public and its government or in the consumerist market-place

In other places, there are all sorts of specialist bodies (sometimes called Ombudsmen) to deal with specific aspect s of administration by governments departments such as health, social security and pensions, planning and building, housing, taxation etc etc besides others that deal with private grievances arising with insurance companies, banking, lawyers, consumer issues and Utility companies supplying water, electricity and gas.

Jersey’s Complaints Board system is hopelessly inadequate.
Its terms of reference are far too narrow and the team of volunteer panellists are just simply not pro-active in seeking out the matters that are causing grief to the public. Even when a positive decision is made – it cannot be enforced.
The Complaints Board system is grossly under-resourced, is not fully independent (it operates through the States’ Greffe) and is hardly ever advertised or promoted. Very few States Members have the interest or ability to research or present a grievance on behalf of a member of the public and there is no Legal Aid available to engage a lawyer – although States Departments can call upon the Crown Officers etc as felt necessary for legal help.

Of course, Jersey likes to claim that the Complaints Board system satisfies international human rights obligations by providing an appeal system against administrative decisions. But this is just a sad joke and a mere pretence.

In other places similar Boards have the power and duty to initiate hearings even where no complaint has been made or to call departments to account, to enforce decisions and even to prosecute where the law has been broken.

When Complaints Boards are initiated they are almost always supposed to take place in public. Yet the Greffe hardly ever announces when and where they are to take place and today’s Board did not even meet at the agreed time and place! There is no Press prior- announcement of Board hearings and details are not even posted in the States Building notice box. Hearings cannot be filmed, recorded or broadcast.
Once hearings have taken place there is no comprehensive archive of previous decisions or even an indexed list to guide potential complainants regarding precedents.

A recent decision declared that Boards are not constituted to hear complaints based upon human rights arguments!

Coupled with the inadequacy of the Complaints Board system are the deficiencies of the Jersey legal system (cost, lack of clarity, shortage of published information), limitations of the CAB service, shortage of published information by government departments, absence of Jersey NGOs or political parties and the refusal of the  entire States’ Scrutiny Board system to investigate individuals’ grievances etc etc.

If Jersey had 53 States Members like Bob Hill then perhaps there might not be so great a problem – but Jersey has only ONE such elected peoples’ representative.

When did you last hear of a Constable representing a Parishioner before a Complaints Board? If you wanted representation where would you turn?

Jersey’s whole system of administrative review needs to be totally changed. The existing system does not work – it should be scrapped.


Saturday, April 2, 2011


The Secret Seven are a secret society who hold regular meetings and organise things to do, whether it’s helping the community in some way, solving mysteries that turn up or just having fun playing Red Indians in the woods….

Well, on Thursday, because the weather was a bit gloomy Sarah decided that she and her chums would play indoors.

According to the Usher at the States Building it was only to be a private game and he was all for refusing admittance to the accredited press gang until “blogger” (yours truly) explained that it was only the start that was restricted. When Usher revealed that a special messenger had been sent out to buy biscuits we knew that we should be welcome to attend and watch - if not actually to join-in…

Normally, Sarah is Chairman (that’s what she calls herself) of the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel (just her, Deputy Le Fondre and Deputy De Sousa only because she does not have many friends), so she makes up all the rules, but on this occasion she chose to appear as star witness before the specially created “Jersey Development Company Selection Process Corporate Services Scrutiny Sub-Panel.”

Obviously this is a silly title created by the Confuse-them Committee but the object of the game is much simpler to understand - viz Sarah has a SECRET and the Scrutiny Panel (all males) has to discover what it is!

So, on Thursday 31 March 2011 at 1.15 p.m., Senators Perchard, Breckon and Le Gresley together with Deputies Le Herissier and Le Fondre plus two “officers” sat around the truth table in Le Capelain Room to face the challenge of discovering “Sarah’s Secret.” What a super wheeze!!

Before going into the room of secrets, yours truly asked Sarah if we might video-record the proceedings for history since she was appearing unusually in the role of witness? Unfortunately, she explained, she had not had her hair done so she must decline and in any case, she said yours truly only ever writes bad things about Jersey and she cannot understand why people like me live here at all…nothing personal of course.

Deputy Le Fondre acted as “chair” and sat in the middle waving the magic pen. He explained that it was the first time he had ever done anything like this and they were really only trying to discover some basic clues to start with. As he explained, at the moment we haven’t got a clue.
But, very soon he was stringing together sentences of five words or more and Sarah revealed some strange things that had happened to her on several occasions from December to February last.
The whole room went very quiet as we all listened in anticipation.

Apparently, she had been invited to join an advisory group or something but she did not know what is was for and there were no rules or terms of reference that she was aware of. It was all a bit spooky because other people invited to attend seldom turned up and when they did, nobody seemed to take any notice of what they said or decided.

Deputy Le Herissier explained that he had been invited to attend one of these meetings too but had declined. However, this came as no surprise because he always sits on the fence and it is said that he still cannot tie his own shoe-laces.

A couple of times the Panellists seemed to be getting warm with their questions but Sarah kept alluding to some “big boys” with names like Ugly, Ozo and The Sewer who had been playing in another room, choosing a Chairman for the newly formed Jersey Development Company – and she was not at all keen to tell any tales on them.
There was somebody called “The Baroness” and apparently she was breathing fire for something that the big boys had done to her but Sarah had by now drunk all the water and her mouth sounded very dry.

Eventually Sarah confirmed that it seemed to her that she had been asked to play in a scoring-game but the result was known even before the game commenced. She was not at all happy about it but she wanted to whisper some answers in private although we suspected that she really wanted all the chocolate biscuits for herself.

So, we few onlookers were asked to leave the room so that the game might continue behind closed doors.

We asked if any details of the private proceedings might be revealed later but were told that these will be kept secret for eternity – if not longer.

We understand that Pip Rondel from St John had also played a part in these strange goings-on and that he wants to go into the “room of secrets” too and to be “put to the question.”
However, he will only do so in total privacy because he is really afraid of the big boys –even though he is a member of the
Stopford Road
gang. It is all so scary.
What can he possibly know that is so secret?

Scrutiny is such an exciting game!!!

Tom Gruchy