Deputy Bob Duhamel appeared before the Environment Scrutiny Panel today.
As this was a "hearing" yours truly was admitted to observe only - provided I made no noises, ate food or drank. Every day there is something new - now we "the public" must wait until the witnesses are comfortably seated before we are allowed into the room - and outside a new notice has appeared;
"Members of the Public"
"Please be aware that public hearings may be filmed by the accredited media"
which is a variation on the protocol previously published.
We the public are also to keep mum until we have left the room after the hearing has finished - so it affords little opportunity to set up an interview such as this with any of the participants.
It's all part of the "them and us" syndrome which seems to affct so many people who become part of this little Island government as does the policy that the identification of scrutiny particpants is only done for the purposes of the electronic recording machine. It is not to assist any members of the public to know who all these people doing the talking actually are!
Scrutiny still has a long way to go in the engagement with the public stakes and so it is especially sad when an enthusiastic chap like Deputy Duhamel mumbles so quietly when responding to the scrutineers. There is no sound system to improve amplification for the public and of course, we are not allowed to speak to complain.
Nevertheless Deputies Young and Luce with Constable Rondel made a reasonable job of interviewing Minister Bob and his team of two - although their probing did not elicit a squeak from one of the senior civil servants beyond his (inaudible) name at the outset. It must be quite a feat of dedication to remain so silent for 2 hours and 35 minutes but clearly Deputy Young has a keen interest in the business of planning since he was a former Chief Officer at South Hill .
Whether familiarity is a good thing was not clear but Deputy Young does know the subject matter well enough - but those of us who dealt with him when he was in the comfy planning executive chair would hardly say he was a notable reformer....
Here Bob Duhamel answers my questions for 15 minutes and the transctipt of the hearing will be on the scrutiny.gov.je website in due course for anybody interested.
On today's showing - the public is not interested since their seats were empty. Pity really because Bob outlined some new thinking and proposed changes which will probably mean that he is dumped by the savings obsessed Council of Ministers at the first opportunity...
he will also need to speak up and be more authoritative if he wants to impress the Chief Minister and his bean counting team....ironically it was the very same CM who appeared after luncheon before the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel and bean counting was at the centre of their population and immigration controlling agenda...
frightening is not an adequate word so it's no wonder that Deputy Bob wants to claw back some powers to his Planning Department....not a chance alas...what on earth can we do?