Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Scrutiny knows no fury like a le Fondre scorned

When you encounter a body called the Corporate Services Abortive Purchase of Lime Grove House Scrutiny Sub-Panel you can be pretty sure to have reached into the very heart of Jersey government. It does not get any better – not even in Czarist Russia could a more convoluted and archaic title be dreamed up. And the plot behind the title is of suitably Mad Monk Rasputin dimensions too.
All will hopefully be revealed in good time before the choosing of Jersey’s new Chief Minister.

Inevitably, Senator Sarah was in command of this last minute venture in scrutiny-land. Yours truly really thought it was all over for this season if not for ever – because Scrutiny has been under scrutiny itself recently and it looked to be destined for the scrap bin. But, two other recent and urgent panels have been initiated (on school exams and the BDO/Operation Rectangle report) and had already breathed some temporary life into the doomed beast.

Today’s hearings were the start of a whole week of sustained talking and ear-straining for the depleted panellists Collin Egre and Debbie De Sousa – although Egre disappeared just before half-time and did not re-appear today.

As always yours truly had asked by e-mail to video-record the proceedings just in case Sarah has had a conversion – but this was ignored. Even passing up a hand written note to the high altar could attract no response. Only after the initial hearing with Senator Le Marquand and the Deputy Chief of Police had been concluded did her holiness respond to my verbal plea. A negative decision had been made, she said, because the meetings were of such importance that no recording would be allowed in case it disturbed things. Deputy Priestess De Sousa chipped in too that we were being treated just the same as the accredited press “if that was any consolation.” Yours truly pointed out that there was in fact an agreed Scrutiny protocol (copies were actually sitting on the public seats) that explained that if witnesses agreed they could be recorded - but the worst sort of demagogue is somebody who was once a serf - and there was no point in arguing.

Obviously it was far too important a hearing for the public to be encouraged to know about this little political hot potato. The panellists wanted it all to themselves.

Ironically, when yours truly returned home, the following e-mail had arrived from the scrutiny office : “The Corporate Scrutiny Panel had agreed that only the press would be permitted to use video cameras in its meetings” and attached the Practice minute of 4 March 2009 –“ Following a Panel meeting discussion on the use of video cameras at its meetings with members of the public, the Panel established that the press would be welcome because they had a Code of Practice to follow and complaints relating to abuse had a mechanism for resolution. Members of the public had no such restraints placed upon them which would have allowed disruption during the meeting and misuse of the footage. The Panel was minded that the meetings were open to the Public as observers and it decided to maintain refusal for permission for any member of the public to film during any Corporate Services Scrutiny panel hearing or meeting.”

The details of this political/property farce will doubtless be revealed in due course but from initial soundings it seems that Senator Ozouf could well be milking the cows on his St Saviour farm soon and should have no difficulty in finding some possible cow-hands among his current colleagues.
Senator Le Marquand seemed to enjoy revealing all he knew – which was not a great deal – because he had been kept so much in the dark by the Treasury as the negotiations proceeded almost to signing the contract - which then mysteriously collapsed.

The State Street Corporation (of Boston Mass) is the new tenant at an anticipated £24 per sq ft rental.
Presumably Senator Ozouf and/or his departmental staff valued this commercial letting above the provision of proper police facilities. So they pulled the bung.

The loss to the public is generally reckoned at £8 Millions for this failure because there is no better deal on offer and that takes no account of wasted fees or expenditure over the five years that these have been ongoing (2006 to date). Current valuation of the Lime Grove building is more like £12 millions rather than the £8.25 to £8.75 Millions which the States were negotiating to pay for this urgently needed Police HQ. So much for CSR.

Strangely, it is often the empty seats that speak the loudest at such hearings and just as Senior Police Officer Gradwell was only absent in body from the BDO Scrutiny - so the ghosts of Ozouf, Richardson and Le Sueur dominated these proceedings in an ethereal sort of way. In fact it was one of the themes that later witnesses alluded to – just as the negotiations to buy Lime Grove House began slipping mysteriously away - they had sensed a presence “of somebody behind the scenes pulling the strings and interfering in the decision making.”

How strange yours truly thought – this was just what happened at the time of the recruitment of the Jersey Development Company officers (WEB under a new name) which had also been subject to scrutiny by Senator Sarah and her team and was widely reported on this blogsite.

Another empty scrutiny chair was that of Deputy John Le Fondre. He had been painfully sacked as an Assistant Treasury Minister at the crucial point (Autumn 2010) during the negotiations and he had particular responsibility for the whole project. Then in a complicated game of musical chairs he had joined Sarah’s scrutiny panel whilst Constable Refault had left (to join the Treasury) as had Deputy Vallois (Sarah’s starlet) and Constable Murphy. Deputy Egre had recently joined the panel having been sacked as an Assistant Minister at Planning.

Deputy Le Fondre was present however, for much of the day’s proceedings, sitting in the public seats, taking many notes and listening very intently. Also present was a junior female emissary from the Treasury.
Le Fondre is precluded from sitting as a scrutiny panellist here being conflicted but will appear later as a witness. Feathers are sure to fly then and gallery seats should be booked.

The States Greffier also attended as an observer for a while today, which is unusual for scrutiny hearings.
The roles of Senator Ozouf and the Jersey Development Company will no doubt be fully revealed as this shifty business unfolds and somebody might even explain why the States Property Holdings Department was warned off, just as negotiations seemed to be successfully completed?

Those with an historical interest might consider that
State Street, Boston
, Mass was the location in 1770 for the “Boston Massacre.” Then the colonists were resisting the payment of taxes to the London government and this resistance was also demonstrated when tea was dumped in Boston harbour to avoid paying further British financial burdens, two years later. Jersey’s own “revolution” had taken place on  28 September 1769.
By 1781 the “American War of Independence” arrived in Jersey’s
Royal Square
when French mercenaries invaded the Island. “The Battle of Jersey” painting is a royalist depiction of this event and was painted by John Copley, whose family was tea traders and probably owned some of the dumped tea.
The “Boston Massacre” picture, which shows British redcoats shooting at colonists, was etched by Paul Revere (Rivoire) who was from a Guernsey family.

Some might see connections across an ocean and several centuries.


Monday, August 29, 2011


GILL CURTIS MBE was featured on this blog on 25 June 2011 and it was noted that since she died a couple of years ago, no individual or organisation has really taken up the campaigning cause of “disability” in Jersey.

Of course, there are many people who work very hard for specific disability groups and all those who care for a disabled person will know what a struggle it can be - but Gill tried to fight for the rights of ALL disabled persons as one big group.

GARY MATTHEWS is featured in this two part interview and he has arrived at a similar decision.

He will be remembered by some as a States Deputy in St Brelade during the 1990s.
Since then he has removed to England and become blind so that he now experiences disability at first hand just as Gill Curtis did.

Because Gary is a politically motivated person he takes on the difficulties of his disability in a campaigning way and he challenges unfairness when he meets it or it is drawn to his attention. As he explains here, there are hundreds of action groups in the UK and they work together for reform or to protect existing rights and achievements.

It is useful to listen here to his description of the provision to assist disabled persons in the UK compared with Jersey and this is especially relevant in the context of the Jersey Health Department’s “Health and Social Services Review” currently being undertaken.

Another interview with Gary is currently posted on Deputy Tadier’s Blog
and includes an interesting discussion between the former and current Deputy for District 2 St Brelade

Fortunately, Gary has the technology to translate this text into talk so that he will have no difficulty in responding to anybody who wants to get in touch with him, via the comments facility below. Any such contacts will be passed on to Gary in England.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Deputy Roy Le Herissier in discussion with Graham Bisson

Roy Le Herissier is the sitting Deputy for St Saviour District 3 and will be offering himself for re-election on 19 October.

Graham Bisson lives in District 3 and here discusses various political issues with Roy.

The interview is posted in 3 parts and is about 30 minutes long in total.

We have contacted other candidates for election on 19 October and offered to interview them. Some have not responded but further recordings are planned.

If you are interested in being interviewed – either as a candidate or as a member of the public with a view to express – please make contact via the comment facility on this blog.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

WHERE's the PARTY asks Donald Perrier?

This interview with DONALD PERRIER is Part 3 of a fuller version that was prepared for Nick Le Cornu’s District 1 St Helier Election 2011 blogsite.

You can view the two other parts there but I thought that Donald touches on some issues that are especially relevant – such as whatever happened to all the political parties that were promised just a few months ago?

Donald Perrier is well known at political meetings and turns out in all weathers to express his views, to hear the opinions of others and to PARTICIPATE in the political dialogue.

He is now in his 80’s but has a surprisingly optimistic enthusiasm for younger representatives in the States and reminds me very much of EMILLE COLLINS who died recently and is so very sadly missed.

The interview was recorded outside Le Folie Pub on the old French quay-side, near NORMANS.  This is one of the most neglected corners of District 1 St Helier yet lies at the very heart of Jersey’s most historic and culturally rich past.

This whole area should be a gem for so many people whether as workers or tourists, boaters, artists or residents.
Donald lives in one of the curious little cottages on the quayside which still has cod-fishery equipment at the rear – preserved and protected - but hidden away!

There were thousands of Jersey sailing ships that sailed out from this quaint corner over the centuries – but where is the memorial to a single named mariner here?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Deputy Bob Hill BEM Two Part interview JERSEY ELECTIONS 2011

Here is a two part interview with Deputy Bob Hill BEM who is standing again for election at St. Martin on 19th October 2011.

If it possible to arrange interviews with other candidates for Deputy or Constable or any Parishioners in St Martin before Election Day – this will be done.

This is not a complete election manifesto from Bob but is an opportunity to hear him explain some of his past achievements and his hopes for the future.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Senator Philip Ozouf is unusual among our Ministers insofar as he runs a blog-site and says that comment is encouraged – but he has not yet published my comment that follows below.

Unfortunately, it is obvious that he prefers to publish those submissions that agree with his views and postings which are, for the most part, sickly sweet PR and spin.

I submitted this comment on 7 August in response to his gushing praise of the trip that he and Senator Cohen recently made (at public expense) to Malta.

Philip Ozouf’s views on how wonderful the political set-up in Malta is and of the wonderful finance and gambling industries that are developing there are not echoed on the Maltese blogs or online news outlets. And there are an abundance of political and other scandals there that even our JEP would find hard to ignore.

So I have resorted to publish my comment here but would urge any readers to look at Sen Ozouf’s original posting on his blog too.
Sorry, but I can’t do the link.

August 7th 2011

Don’t want to be a Jeremiah but did you notice that Malta plans to expand its finance sector business from 12% of GDP now to 25% in 2015 with jobs for nearly 10,000. With all the dozens of finance centres around the world chasing the same money and rich clients I do wonder if there will be enough of the jolly dosh to go round?

Also, did you manage to help the Maltese authorities and their Italian friends with the search for the multi-millions of euros that have slipped out of the pockets of so many super-rich Romans via dubious company?

Apparently, many of the missing millions belonged to some unpleasant Calabrian mafia gangs and they want it back but it was last seen heading for Jersey, Switzerland, Luxembourg, the Virgin Isles and Bahamas. The files go back 15 years and there are at least 1,300 unhappy clients but the fraudsters have spilled the beans out of fear and are now locked up pending trial.

Also, how about the 500,000 euros speedboat robbery of one (of many) Maltese casinos a few months ago? – Cheeky eh! And the robbers seem to have got clean away. It’s not such a great surprise because Maltese lack of regulation of its gambling industry has been a bit of a scandal with dozens of gambling halls opened since 2007 under a “free for all” – with virtually no more licensing than a simple change of use from the Planning Office. No doubt Sen. Cohen was able to advise them on ways to clamp down under the planning laws?

Oh and how about the “Cyrusgate” scandal that is currently rocking Maltese government, policing and politics? Certainly makes any Jersey case look insignificant and how extraordinary that two RC priests have only just been jailed arising from child-abuse allegations that originated in 1993 but nobody would take any action.

Also, how amazing that Malta has only just agreed to introduce divorce whereas in Jersey we have already agreed to civil partnerships. Makes Jersey seem quite progressive doesn’t it? They did have a referendum though with a 53% vote pour – although the PM still voted against!

Am pleased to note that Dom Mintoff is still alive at 95 but was curious that one blog under maltatoday.com says that the behaviour of the current government makes the violent thugs from previous times look harmless. What is that all about I wonder?

Devout Catholic PM Dr Monzi of course leads the Nationalist Party and Malta has a lively political party system.

One blog critic writes “the only things that keep the PM in his place are his regiment of recipients of exclusive tenders and his posse of political appointees.” Doesn’t sound like the Maltese system according to your Press Release (though I could not actually download the Maltese statement that you kindly posted on your blog)?

Obviously, different people interpret things in different ways so you might find the Maltastar and the Malta Independent online or the timesofmalta.com to be useful travel reading on your next trip on our behalf. Sorry I can’t do the links.

By the way, did you know that over 11,300 new homes were approved at the high point of the Maltese property boom but this had reduced to just 4,400 last year – a drop of 61% since 2007!
Seems like that particular bonanza is over and did you bump into Angelina Jolie acting as UNCHR ambassador?
It seems that Lyster Barracks is used as a detention camp for asylum seekers from Somalia, Ethiopia and other Saharan areas of N. Africa and they are not very happy with their situation.
Presumably they are not enjoying all the benefits of the business that you mention occurring between Malta and N. Africa?
Perhaps we should invite her to Jersey? Would be another good photo-opportunity for you and Sen Cohen and good publicity for Jersey.