Saturday, September 29, 2012

Constable Murphy of Grouville - some of his views...

Part one video is about 4 minutes - Part two about 22 minutes.

Constable Dan Murphy of Grouville

In this two part interview (the unexpected ‘phone call being the cause for a break) Dan Murphy aka “Spud” joins the discussion on the role of Constables and other things.

An “Old Victorian”, born in Jersey during the war, he tried to become a Deputy in 1993/4 when Imogen “Vera Lynn” Nicholls was elected. So he has primarily served as Constable in a Parish (population about 4,500) which quite often returns candidates unopposed.
Especially interesting here is that Dan is against the States’ purchase of Plemont and the obvious question is whether most of the other Constables will take a similar stance in the Chamber?

Presumably if a majority of the Constables vote one way or the other then they will be accused of being a “party” with a block vote.
Constable Murphy is clearly not too keen on being mandated by his Parishioners – so he will have to defy them if they did call a Parish meeting and express a view in favour of States’ acquisition. What might happen in other Parishes?

In fact, the only Parish really affected by the Plemont issue is St Ouen but it has now been made an “all Island issue”. So it will be especially interesting to see how the various factions within and outside the States play their cards.
Conservatives and ecologists are an unstable alliance at the best of times but with Senator Bailhache carrying the flag for acquisition some of the more progressive elements will have difficult choices to make!

Also revealing is Constable Murphy’s desire to build more affordable housing in his Parish. Of course, he wants to house people – but the underlying agenda is the need to have more suitable young candidates for the Parish Honorary service – currently seriously understaffed.

The traditional farming community is no longer available in Grouville to call upon and similar concerns have been expressed in other “country” Parishes too. Bearing in mind that there used to be 1,100 dairy farms in Jersey after the war and there are now only 26 (and even this number is likely to reduce rapidly soon), the “traditional Jersey future” looks bleak.
The more so since the population has increased from 50,000 to 100,000 over the same period and our leaders are already contemplating 140,000.

Yet although Dan Murphy wants more houses in his Parish – he still want to control their allocation and it seems that Housing Minister Green has already agreed to an opt-out from the common “Gateway” system…

Clearly the whole new housing strategy will be torpedoed even before launching if other Parishes and Housing Trusts are able to allocate “social” houses according to their own priorities and whims…

Thanks to Constable Murphy for his time and sorry if the image gets a bit dark towards the end.

If any other Constables would like to be video-interviewed in this series, please make contact.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Happy Anniversary 28 September 1769! The struggle continues...

The Jersey Class War continued 1769 – 2012 or the Battle of Plemont.

“Whether the States should purchase  this land is outside this inquiry – that is a political not planning decision – Plemont Estates Ltd have made their planning application and paid the fee… this is the lawful and proper approach…it will be for the applicants to make  their case why permission should be granted…”
So said Planning Inspector Alan Langton from the UK at the opening of thee public Inquiry into the proposed housing development of 28 houses on the Plemont “headland” at St Ouen – on the site of a former hotel from the 1830s or the holiday camp “established in 1925.”

Then, near the end of the two day hearing (at La Societé Jersiaise building), Senator Sir Philip Bailhache announced that he had prepared and lodged this very day, a proposition for the Chief Minister, to purchase the land for the public.
It was a bit of a party pooper announcement…

In other words, the battle has a long way yet to run and no matter what this Inquiry decides, the final decision will be a political one and it is the general public who will pay the costs, one way or another. Somewhere between £8 to £14 Millions (plus lawyers’ fees) based on opening gambits…

Of course the value of the land may well depend on what use or development is approved – if anything at all.
Much of the two days was spent in trying to determine if the concept of “abandonment” applied to the much neglected existing buildings. Were they still a “tourist” facility or had that use been lost through neglect? Could the buildings be revived as a hotel or just restored as a holiday camp – after all, the current owners (the “very wealthy” 11K Hemming’s family) still run two holiday camps in the UK among many other tourism activities…

But, if the meaning of “abandonment” under Jersey planning law is ever agreed the owners of other empty buildings had better watch out…
Other common use words – such as “curtilege,” “green field,” or “brown field” – were also found to be ill-defined in Jersey planning and property law and the old legal humbug about the status of UK interpretations and/or UK case precedents was never far away…so much for 800 years of Jersey’s own, unique legal system.

In spite of the National Trust for Jersey’s employment of a very gobby, pin-striped, smooth-talking Advocate with an Irish accent to present its lengthy case against the development - these two days were more like the “Last of the Summer Wine” gone ecological than the stereotypical image of youthful protest that appears at Planning Inquiries elsewhere.
Sadly, the aged principal speaker for La Societé Jersiaise actually collapsed during the proceedings and had to be taken away in an ambulance.
 “The medium is the message” as the Canadian prof used to say…

Equally aged Sir Nigel Broomfield (there being no shortage of titles or honours at this gathering) even observed how well run this Inquiry was (by Mr. Langton) and how it displayed none of the “ill-will” as expressed in other places. He respected the right of the Hemmings family to dispose of their property as they liked etc but he wanted the land cleared and restored to nature.

He did not suggest this as a suitable site for his brainchild of Jersey’s New University though… presumably all those young students would be better contained in an old military fort in St Helier and not interfering with his coastal walks with his two spaniels.

Bob Le Sueur, a 90 plus Jerseyman (living on the coast at St Clement), in jest referred to himself as “a fully paid up Jersey bean card carrying OAP and elderly busy-body” which was generally accurate for most of the “antis” assembled here for this last stand - and he was quite clear that his views might be considered “irrelevant by some.”
Many a true word…
Of course, he didn’t really mean it because he does represent a widely held resentment against something – but it is just so difficult to determine what it is that needs to be protected and from whom?

The class prejudice of the Jersey nouveau-riche was everywhere apparent.
Those who might well have enjoyed a crazy night or dance at the campsite in its hey-day were now queuing to dis-own its very existence. For many, the only worse thing that could happen on this "headland" would be to construct “a housing estate” and there was no “proven demand for houses in this area” according to several speakers besides which the new occupiers would be building sheds and conservatories in a few years…oh heaven forbid!

The pin-striped lawyer had even suggested that “homeless people were camping” in the existing buildings!!! Oh quelle horreur and what a sudden concern for deprivation!!! There were no visibly homeless people speaking at this “public” inquiry of course.
In fact there was no voice here for the thousands of Jersey residents who live in appalling conditions…but they were unlikely to find a spokesman in this legal eagle or any others here to promote their needy cause. Everybody present here was adequately housed thank you very much…and whilst there were voices for puffins and bats, there were none for rats or cats either.
Nobody much liked the 18th century "hamlet" style of the proposed housing clusters either - not sufficiently similar to traditional Jersey farmhouses for these lobbyists. Wonder if they drive 18th century style cars and fly off to their Breton holiday homes in hot-air balloons...?

Dr Renouf waxed lyrical about Neanderthals who might have lived here 200,000 ago and how they had once looked across a wooded valley to Guernsey.  Now “the home of our ancestors” was probably a cave in the cliff face 14 metres above the high tide line he suggested  and the new houses might spoil the view from there…it was an odd, belated sort of planning objection on amenity grounds for people whose only presence now is the 13 teeth they left behind.  Nevertheless, Alan Langton lapped up the Doctor’s evidence and wished he could hear more…but time pressed.

Yours truly had tried to raise the question of the legality or propriety of the proceedings early on but Mr. Langton had soon declined my invitation to discuss that suggestion.
In fact of course, Mr. Langton was one of the two Planning Inspectors who conducted the substantial review of the Draft Island Plan adopted in 2011 – so he had already heard and considered many of the arguments about Plemont before.
His partiality or possible prejudice on this current occasion must be an obvious possibility – especially since he was supposedly appointed at short notice for this Inquiry after a preferred Inspector had dropped out.
Surely it would have been better to wait for another more visibly impartial person to come along…?

But it is not just the Inspector who might be flawed because the whole Planning Inquiry process has been subjected to much critical examination in many countries during recent years – and some of the test case judgments should not be ignored (try the Internet for a start re McGonnel v UK, Bryan v UK, Balmer-Schafroth v Switzerland  etc etc).

Although the current Jersey Planning Law seems to allow for Inquiries to be set up where public interest is great enough (and how might that be determined?) – the personal status of those who were objecting to this development was insubstantial. None were near-neighbors affected by the proposals so that none could claim any personal loss or grievance. They were all “assuming” some public role but why should the property rights of the owners be subjected to such an examination at all? Where is the “fair and impartial” hearing for the applicants and who is protecting the “peaceful enjoyment of their possessions” against such an assault on their integrity and motivations?

This is a capitalist society after all – where the pursuit of profit is not a sin. But the Convention on Human Rights is supposed to protect the wealthy developer just as much as the impoverished underdog. These protestors seemed only to have heard of international restraints with “environmental” aspirations and they were clearly not too concerned with other treaties that demanded homes and a decent standard of living “for all.” 

So where is the concern of these “ecological” protesters for the unmet housing needs of so many in Jersey? Do they ever ask for such a Planning Inquiry when developments are proposed in the St Helier ghetto? Did they organize a “Line in the Sand” protest against any urban development during the past decade in the town? The sudden concern for the inadequate St Ouen bus service was a joy to behold - but we all knew it was just another ploy to criticise the proposal with. There was little genuine concern to improve the whole Island transport system here...
The north-south, country-town divide was everywhere apparent.

Noticeably, there were several ex senior Planning Officers appearing here in somewhat different roles. John “Lesquende” Young now appearing as a St Brelade Deputy seemed to forsake the un-met housing demands of his own parish electorate and apparently wanted the buildings declared as “abandoned” too.
His fellow ex officer Peter Thorne batted for the developers and presumably had come to different personal and professional conclusions. It all depends on who pays your fee of course and that is another issue raised elsewhere (try the Internet) about Planning Inspectors and the ability to be truly “independent”. After all, they are employed by and have their terms of reference set by, the very same Ministerial Department that ultimately lays down the planning policies that makes or refuses planning consent.

Bearing in mind that Jersey Planning Law now requires the applicant to show that an application is justified – rather than the traditional onus being with the government (or Planners) to show that it is not – the whole development control process seems to be potentially flawed…but who cares…eh!
Since the discussion will now move on to the States chamber, the populations of the urban areas of St Helier, St Brelade, St Saviour and St Clement will have the opportunity to lobby and resist (or support) this latest Ministerial proposal, through their own elected representatives….

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Chief Minister Senator Gorst issued a PR statement today to re-assure the public of Jersey that the JEC link to France is guaranteed safe and that in the extraordinarily remote possibility of any fault in the system that the public of Jersey would not have to pick up the bill or pay more for their electricty.
Signed Asst Minister Phil  "I'm as much in the dark as you" Bailhache.

We take this opportunity to publish this video-recorded election promise from CM Gorst on this and related matters.

We are so fortunate to have politicians of such integrity and foresight.

Monday, September 24, 2012


click on image below to increase size

This strange advertisement appeared in today's JEP and is the latest episode in the long saga of the Les Pas Holdings mystery. Those with long memories will recall this throwback from Jersey's feudal past which rose out of the legal swamp to enrich a few individuals by many £millions of public money...

The general public thought that feudalism and the spectre of ancient seignorial  rights had long since been consigned to the history books but Advocate Richard Falle and a few others were one step ahead of the average Jersey country boys and girls and made a killing.

This advert has been placed by Barrie Copper - who, - so it seems - is the ONLY person left in Jersey still challenging the decisions that were made when the States threw in the legal towel and handed over a cheque by way of compensation or something similar to the smart guys.

Senator Dick Shenton was responsible for the petition published in the JEP in 2003 referred to in the advert above which was signed by 7,224 residents who wanted a different outcome.

As always they were ignored by this Jersey government which had been so badly advised.  As per usual, nobody in government or the Crown Offices was blamed and the reclaimed land was soon sold to developrs and built upon.

Whether the infilled land was contaminated and who would pay for its cleansing was all part of the mystery deal that was made at the time but what the long term implications are for this development and the rest of the land on the Waterfront is still not clear. Nothing seems to change and we now want another reclamation site to bury our toxic waste materials according to Planning/Environment Minister Duhamel!

Harcourt Ltd under various names are due back in the court to sue the Treasury and States this Thursday 27 September "for a substantial sum etc" following their failed development activities on the troubled Waterfront - but they failed to appear at the initial hearing.

In 1769 of course the court was taken over on 28 September by several hundreds of dissenting Jersey residents who demanded all sorts of reforms....

Further details of the Les Pas Holdings Ltd saga can be found in Proposition P117 of year 2000 but as Barrie says in his advert, the case is officially closed - nothing further can be done now!!!

Shall any of our 51 elected representatives be contacting Barrie Cooper to discuss this with him or shall any be brave enough to re-open this mysterious file?

Answers please on parchment with a wax seal to prove authenticity...

Friday, September 21, 2012

Constable Len Norman - St Clement, - in favour of some Jersey Reform

Following the interview with Constable Steve Pallett of St Brelade we now offer this posting from St Clement.

What is immediately apparent is that although Constable Pallett's previous political career had been supportive of reform it is Constable Norman - traditionally a conservative - who now promotes more change.

So Len Norman's views, as the only one of the twelve existing Constables, who thinks that they should not also be returned "ex officcio" to the States are especially important.

Life is full of such surprizes.

We took the opportunity to discuss other Parish matters too with Constable Norman and he is unique as the only current Member of the States who has served as Deputy, Senator and Constable.

St Clement as the smallest of the twelve Parishes also has a population of 10,000 - second only to St Helier - but has very little commercial activity. The Parish is predominently given over to housing.

If any other Constables would like to be interviewd for this series - please get in touch.

Thursday, September 20, 2012



A professional person has been struck off a professional register for “bringing the profession into disrepute” – but just what does this mean?

One might think that this matter is somehow related to the £1.2 Millions of laundered drugs money that was brought back to Jersey this week by the Americans.  That “reward” has been much trumpeted by the Crown Officers through the JEP but appears to be money that should never have been admitted to Jersey in the first place (back in 2004).

What would you do with it if you had this £1.2 million was BBC Radio gaga’s theme for a more or less mindless hour of “phone-in” chat. But what have we really learned about the many £millions of illegal loot that have obviously been moving around the world from one haven to another for decades on behalf of an “unnamed Colombian cartel”?

The relevant Jersey branch of BBVA (the Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria) “used to be based in Mulcaster Street but have not had a presence in Jersey for several years.”
Was it one of our famous “Top 100” of international banks that can do no wrong – did it go bust  in the world banking crisis – if so what happened to the staff and any assets or debts? Shall depositors be making any claims on the Jersey Treasury for lost savings….

More importantly in this context, might any professionals such as bankers, accountants or lawyers be “struck off” as a result of this latest grubby activity? Who should initiate any enquiries about the professional ethics of those involved – perhaps the JFSC? Or shall it fall to some professional body in Bilbao, Panama, Timbuktu, or London?

On the evidence of the famous BBC Panorama covert camera investigation at Lloyds Bank in Jersey a few years ago – nothing will happen. No further action will be taken here in Jersey – at least not in public.

According to ethical standards that are supposed to apply, “A finding of bringing the profession into disrepute signifies that the practitioner has acted in such an infamous or disgraceful way that the public’s trust in the profession might reasonably be undermined, or might reasonably be undermined if they were accurately informed about all the circumstances of the case.”

Well, of course the public in Jersey is never going to be accurately informed about such matters because there is simply no source of accurate information.
In some places the media, or at least the specialist press, would dig out the details but there is no such investigative journalism here. And of course, the whole “profession” of journalism has been under-going its own ethical trauma this year in London and elsewhere.

George Bernard Shaw had it right – “All Professions are a conspiracy against the laity”- but what if the profession has no “reputation” that might be harmed?

Presumably somebody respects Jersey lawyers, bankers, accountants, architects, engineers, doctors, vets and even estate agents – but how an earth might the  “whole profession” be brought into disrepute by the actions of just one renegade practitioner?
Is this, in fact, the kernel of Shaw’s conspiracy theory – that the whole thing is built upon a myth?
Is the notion of “professional reputation” just a lie?

Ironically, the professionals are supposed to set higher standards for their own conduct. In other words, what is NOT considered to be disgraceful to an ordinary person may be considered to be disgraceful to a professional person.

Tough luck on society then if “professional reputation” actually means nothing!

And there’s the rub. Since all professions are rewarded with extra powers of self-regulation and stewardship of training standards and qualifications etc., because they are supposed to police themselves on OUR behalf.

In Jersey, our 250 or so local lawyers have extraordinary powers of self regulation and self protection. Unlike other professionals, complaints cannot be taken to an outside (UK) tribunal for adjudication and much of local proceedings take place in private.

In this most recent example, a children’s nurse was struck off by the NMC – the UK Nursing and Midwifery Council – which declared that this was the only way to protect the public. She had been working for the Jersey Health Department in 2009 when the relevant incident arose and the decision that she should be struck off was made on 18 September this year.

That there are unresolved issues with regard to several other disciplinary and suspension matters in Jersey is beyond the scope of this posting.
But that there have been several high level disputes in recent years does raise questions about the competence of any locally constituted tribunals to deal with these matters.

P.S. So far no Jersey lawyer has volunteered to be interviewed in response to my earlier video blog with Alan Collins, the UK solicitor advocate, who is acting for 50 plus people under the Jersey Abuse Compensation Scheme.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Jersey Medium Term Financial Plan - A suitable case for treatment

This won’t hurt – just a little pryke….

Unfortunately – it always hurts, in-spite of all the promises - and these are currently pouring out of our Ministers’ mouths like super cream milk from a prize Jersey’s udder as the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) feeds the other end of the beast…

Old farming references are never far away in Jersey politics and many of today’s Scrutiny participants (on the “taxpayers’ behalf “as they kept reminding us) had led the cows in for milking in a previous life. So it sort of comes as second nature to milk the public I suppose but the reality of life in this little Island seems to belong to another age so far as most of our elected politicians are concerned.

After all, in the lifetime of many there used to be over 1,100 dairy herds in Jersey whereas there are now just 26…and in the same period the human population has risen from 50,000 to 100,000 and human births are now a buoyant 1,000 per annum (in spite of a maternity theatre that is already not fit for purpose)…

Eleven elected reps in total were sitting at the top table for the two hearings today and only one was a Constable (an Assistant Minister in two Departments). Two of the eight Deputies came from single-seat Parishes and one Deputy sat in on both hearings and one is a Minister with another an Assistant Minister. One of the two Senators is a Minister – the other chaired one Scrutiny panel.
This information is given here as part of my Electoral Commission democracy in action audit service…

Since cows no longer have names – I have not named our elected reps here but hope that their anonymity is useful. After all, it is rather akin to being a member of the anonymous and voiceless public who attend or don’t attend on these occasions. Not in reality – just “akin” of course.
They don’t refer to us by name – at best we are “taxpayers” or the “aging population” or “immigrants” or some other troublesome group. Whatever we are – we seem to be a great burden which our elected reps could do much better without.

Pity we cannot be culled like dairy herds…

Today, one Deputy with a “farming background” (FB) started to question the Deputy with the Ministerial status (another FB) about adaptations of homes so as to be suitable for “care in the community.” The questions seemed to be getting somewhere but missed the point that most residents of Jersey live in rented accommodation – much of appalling inadequacy and totally unsuitable for caring for anybody even if their landlords agreed to any adaptations…
That there are 10,000 working adults in Jersey (many with offspring) who do not even have housing quals just does not seem to get into our reps heads. How on earth shall “they” be adequately cared for if the new style hospital system (cost about £400 Millions in ten years time at today’s rates but fuller details can be made available to Scrutiny at a “private” meeting according to the Minister) requires “them” to heal “at home” from surgery or serious illness…and shall they be required to pay for “home nursing” on a “user pays” basis…

That question was alluded to but not really answered (and nobody even asked about the 20,000 with quals who don’t live in Jersey – how might these affect the “projected figures” if a substantial number return to Jersey as problematical “pensioners”…) but the Deputy (FB) did wonder why £5 to £8 Millions will be spent every year on up-grading and maintaining existing facilities until the super new hospital is complete…especially if past population growth of 1,000 per annum continues in future years…

The Minister (FB) responded to the housing/population line of questions with the comment that future demand “is based upon current usage” and that some residents wanted to downsize from their 6 bedrooms granite farmhouses or something equally absurd…just how far removed from reality is it possible to get in a 9 x 5 Island…

Besides which, the actual cost of providing the proposed new “care in the community” system – even if all the extra trained staff could be harvested from the UK or “grown locally”- was still not at the “final business plan” stage. There are a great many works in progress it seems and so many boundaries yet to be determined…which KPMG will no doubt be pleased to do for a fee…

If the FBs are running the Health service… it is reassuring to know that the Treasury is also run by an FB turned cattle feed speculator. That particular venture was supposedly not a great financial success but should not be taken as a barrier to planning the Island’s economy for the next decade…and the scheme to raise bonds on Jersey’s public property portfolio has already (and unfairly) attracted a view of Jersey’s impending financial doom on one UK specialist blog-site…
Although the presence of the Scrutiny chair in the same room visibly and audibly induces a very high degree of mutual irritation between them both, the Minister’s word-count remains the highest recorded since records began…but as for content and credibility…

Well, of course, the one big question is as always – where the “Phlip” is all the money coming from - and the Minister certainly has dreamed up another cunning plan…Or as my granny used to say, money is like manure, it's only useful if spread around a bit...
Apparently people in the Middle East, Asia and somewhere else are just gagging to give us their money and although 20/20 (whatever that is) ends next year, fulfilment is seeking new directions, tourism is down, GST yields and growth  are diminishing and CSR did not achieve the savings anticipated (besides which our rugger team has not yet won a match) and we have no idea how to fund the new health plan and hospital, road repairs or liquid waste treatment plant – but we do have a plan to deal with tax-avoidance and the failed “deemed distribution” policy that the EU ruled as not acceptable.
Details cannot be revealed before the budget (in spite of the need to tell States Members in time for the debate on the MTFP) of course but in broad terms it kills 2 birds with one stone…as a sort of anti-tax avoidance measure that encourages investors to pay more tax as a device to reduce their tax contribution…it still needs some fine tuning but we have every confidence of success…

And finally, following the closure of our London Jersey Finance Office we are to open a new one in the name of the States of Jersey

This will allow the Minister (FB) to engage more often with the likes of Vince Cable, the Swedish Ambassador (who he met last week) the UK Minister of Justice and other like minded, self-important personages on an equal basis…

Full details are not yet finalised but there might also be an opportunity to introduce a herd of milking Jerseys onto Hyde Park emblazoned with advertising material sponsored on a user pays basis…all subject to Data Protection Laws and Client confidentiality and all of
our International Human Rights obligations…

Any further questions before I conclude he said…at which point the Minister was reminded that it was for the Chair to close the meeting, not him…

Just a little pryke indeed…

Monday, September 10, 2012


Storm in Bailhache’s absence

Today the final public meeting of the Electoral Commission was held in the Committee Room at the Town Hall.

In fact it wasn’t a complete Commission because Chairman Senator Philip Bailhache was absent and Deputy Baker only turned up at 11.20am for the hearings that started at 9.00am (although the screen in the lobby said 10.00am).
Left to their own devices the remaining four Commissioners seemed much more relaxed and Colin Storm, the former Guinness and Burger King Supremo was noticeably friendlier and tolerant as chair. He even invited yours truly as the token member of the public present at the outset if the sound was adequate – an issue raised during my own hearing some weeks ago - so the Commission is at least listening on some matters…and they presumably read the JEP too, as revealed during the hearings.

Seven witnesses appeared to give their oral evidence although several proceeded to read scripts that were written in haste at the last possible moment – and it showed.

Deputy Higgins was a rather disappointing self in his presentation and he always seems to be too busy with his aircraft hobby to concentrate on his more important duties public duties as a Deputy.
Shame, because he is a decent sort who means well, but when Colin Storm loaned him a pair of glasses to enable him to read his own script the credibility quotient hit a particularly low point on the scale.

The Deputy did commence though with a jibe at the recent JEP editorial which provoked Storm to clarify in strong terms that the Commission had not yet even considered any of the matters before it. He continued that he did not know why the JEP had written such a thing or whether it was done maliciously or benevolently but he resented that certain people had made that allegation which impugned the Commission’s honesty.
“I can assure you on my honour that we have not yet discussed these matters” Storm protested…

During Senator Farnham’s presentation yours truly passed a note to the Chair asking if the witness could speak up and true to his word Storm interrupted the Senator twice to raise the decibels a bit. So he was not only listening but prepared to act too…

Daniel Wimberley’s 11.00am session commenced with an initial heated discussion arising from a late night
e-mail exchange and his desire to be allowed to rebut an “expert opinion” commissioned and paid for by Advocate Mark Renouf and attached to his written submission “on the final day” allowed.
Colin Storm explained that this document would be examined along with others in the usual way…

Wimberley followed up with a request to see the “expert opinions” received by the Commission but Storm said that these were already published on the Commission’s web-site – which came as a surprise to both of us.

The former Deputy also raised the JEP question and Storm repeated that he did not know if the editorial was malicious or misguided etc but Wimberley persisted “Will you ask the JEP for a retraction?” Storm was unsure – he initially said it was a matter for the Chairman but then that he did not know – but thought it was unlikely that a retraction would be sought.

The exchange seemed to take the wind out of acting Chair Storm’s sails for a while and Dr Jonathan Renouf (the former Hautlieu student turned BBC TV documentary producer) then mostly asked the questions for a while on Wimberley’s “seven principles that the Commission should follow.”

As is traditional for the man from St Mary, his diatribe exceeded the time allowed and he was only silenced by Storm at 11.45am with thanks for all his written research and the promise that “we will read it all.”

Bob Hill next appeared and also explained his growing cynicism and how there was a perception “outside” that there was already a “done deal” by the Commission and that its constitution had been “loaded.” Storm assured him that they all had one vote only and Renouf affirmed “we are only lay members after the event.”

But, asked Bob, suppose there is a split vote between your 6 members? Would the Chairman have a casting vote? Storm responded that at worst there would be a deadlock but then added “This is not a charade; I would not be involved in a charade.”

The hearings eventually - and finally - ended at 12.50pm.
Other questions were asked by Commission members Constable Gallichan of St Mary and Professor Sallis.
Deputy Baker managed a few sentences including the comment that poor voting figures were a reflection of contentment.

Other witnesses were Raulin Amy a Jersey advocate working for a local practice.
Sylvia Lagadu, a candidate in the most recent Senatorial elections.
Constable Steve Pallett who had been turned from party politics and membership of the JDA through Honorary service in St Brelade…

Anyone for charades?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The importance of Friday 28 SEPTEMBER - JERSEY REFORM DAY

…something we should ALL be doing on Friday 28 September this year.

REVOLUTION was in the air in the1760s.
All the Western Empires were creaking following the latest European war and old values were being tested. Religion, politics, scientific knowledge and the social order were all being subjected to examination and reform.

Even in little Jersey, there were brave people prepared to put their lives at risk in order to challenge the established order. Then, all economic, social, political and religious life in Jersey was dominated by the all - powerful Royal Court. This was a wholly corrupted body dominated by the Bailiff, and a dozen each of Jurats, Parish Constables and Rectors.
The same few privileged families controlled almost everything and the Island was divided up into hundreds of feudal fiefs which had to pay rentes to the seigniorial overlords. Most of the Island’s 22,000 or so population lived in precarious poverty.

Then, as now, the Crown Appointed Officers, reigned supreme. The office of Bailiff had degenerated into a hereditary sinecure of the UK based De Carteret family, who hardly ever even visited Jersey. In their place, over three centuries, substitute Lieutenant Bailiffs were appointed.
During much of the 18th century, it was the Lempriere family and their cronies who dominated the Royal Court, the government and so much of Jersey economic and social life. It was against this group that the poorer people of Jersey rose up and rebelled on 28 September 1769 – but there is no memorial built to their memory. Their leader Thomas Gruchy lies in an unmarked Trinity grave.
Officially, these brave people did not exist. The record of their rebellion was even erased from the contemporary Royal court ledger.
Then as now, dissent against the “Crown Officers” was treated as some sort of treason or sedition. The oppressive government dismissed the dissenters as “some factions of jealous persons of a spirit of disrespect in some of the lower classes towards their superiors.”
The Lemprieres planned to hang as many as possible or to deport even more of the rebels, appealing to the King in London to send over troops with authority to suppress the troublemakers.

In fact, the London government did not give the Lemprieres the authority they sought and nobody was hanged or deported. Instead, the brave Island rebels drew up petitions expressing their many grievances and these were sent to London.

As was so often the case, the London government protected the inhabitants of Jersey against the worst oppressions of the local tyrants. It was the ancient responsibility of the London Parliament for the good government of Jersey – even though there were no elected representatives from Jersey in Parliament.

The immediate outcome was that some of the abusive powers were taken away from the Royal Court and more authority was confirmed for the States of Jersey.
It was the start of a more democratic government in Jersey although very short of what the dissenters actually wanted.
In addition, a “Code of Laws “ was agreed and published by authority of the Privy Council in 1771 which was an attempt at providing a clear statement of the laws that applied in Jersey.

The Code was totally inadequate (to this day, clear commentaries on the obscure laws of Jersey are still needed), but it was very significant in the 18th century.
It did make clear that neither the Jersey Court nor the evolving States could pass new laws or amend existing ones, without prior Privy Council approval.

Following this mini- revolution, Philip Lempriere H.M. Attorney “resigned” and left the Island. A new H.M. Lieutenant-Governor was appointed following representations in London against the local oppressors.

The suggestion that Jersey people have enjoyed a democratic paradise since 1204 is just nonsense.
The true history of Jersey has not been recorded or written.

Islanders and the outside-world audience have been fed an official Pro-Royalist ( PR) diet of misinformation for centuries.
The Inquiry (under Lord Carswell’s chairmanship) into the Roles of The Crown Officers brought out the queues of apologists for an official version of history and preservation of the status quo.
A legion of lawyers, Jurats, Honorary Parish officers, politicians past and present (and even H.M. Dean) presented a parrot-like recitation of wonderment in support of seven centuries of supposedly enlightened government, administrative excellence and judicial brilliance.
Historically supported fact or evidence was noticeably absent from their written or oral contributions to the Inquiry Panel of five persons (unimaginatively composed of three lawyers, a Jersey lawyer’s wife and a nurse).

Most of all, it was the Crown Officers themselves, the Bailiffs, Deputy Bailiffs, Attorneys and Solicitors General who felt the greatest need to sing their own praises,  protect their own interests and resist any notions of reform or change.
Thus, the same 18th century style of Crown Officers’ resistance against reform continues to this day.
Former Deputy Bob Hill’s successful call for an examination of the Role of the Crown Officers was just a continuation of the same call for reform that inspired the events of 28 September 1769. It is the voice of the people against oppressive or undemocratic institutions.

For the modern Royalists, it was all hands to the pump trying to maintain the Crown Officers’ ship afloat. Even the Crown Officers from Guernsey were encouraged to give support in an effort to keep the progressive standards of the twenty-first century, at bay.

There seemed to be a desperate but concerted attempt to hang on to perverse powers that their Channel Islands ancestors enjoyed over past centuries.

Jersey’s 1769 mini-revolution pre-dated the American 1775 break with Britain. Yet, when the American colonists’ French allies mounted an expedition against Jersey’s “nest of pirates” on 6 January 1781, Charles Lempriere, the outrageous Lieutenant-Bailiff, was finally forced to resign from office. His slightly less unpleasant son was appointed in his place and H.M. Lieutenant-Governor Corbett (Charles Lempriere’s father-in-law) was court-martialled and dismissed, for failing to adequately defend the colonial outpost.

As always, such disciplinary decisions were made in London because the Island never had an adequate administration, or the powers, to deal with such matters.

It was the Channel Islands’ role as bases for smugglers, privateers and pirates that attracted so much critical attention in the 18th century - as does the finance centre business today.

Inevitably, the Island based smuggling, privateering and “piracy” activities were defended as being beneficial to the British Imperial interest.
The business was a great training ground for navy recruits and many national and local heroes served on the vessels but they also incurred the wrath of others.
Invasions, such as that of 1781, were constantly threatened by foreign powers and so too were the calls on the British Government to curtail the abuses by imposing English Customs or other regulations.

Similar threats and pressures continue to this day from Britain the EU, the OECD, the IMF, the UN the USA and elsewhere.
Now, the Crown Officers continue to defend their own privileged and anachronistic positions within a system of government and administration which must surely be condemned before an international tribunal soon.
The Crown Officers also continue to defend the finance industry - the 21st century equivalent of the nefarious smuggling and privateering – and seek to give credence to the myth of 800 years of democratic government and benign administration under their own or ancestors’ authority.

During the 18th century there were just six Jersey advocates (appointed by authority of the Bailiff of course). Now, there are over 250 (mostly within huge international partnerships) – yet, just a couple dared to express any dissenting views before Lord Carswell’s Inquiry on the Roles of the Crown Officers. Jersey lawyers are the central and essential professional core of the whole Island based finance business and predictably, the Crown Officers are recruited exclusively from among them.

The single most important finding of the “Lord Carswell” inquiry – that the Bailiff should not sit in the States – has inevitably been ignored.

As in 1769, this is just another manifestation of the great divide in Jersey between the general population and the non-elected elite who still retain such a stranglehold as lawyers and Crown Officers over Island life.
We in Jersey should remember the brave heroes of 28 September 1769 with pride every year celebrate their achievements and continue to demand further reforms.

Currently (summer of 2012), following the proposition of (former) Deputy Wimberley an Electoral Commission has been set up to consider the structure of the Jersey States Assembly and whether reforms are needed.

Unfortunately, this Commission has been hijacked by the former Bailiff Sir Philip Bailhache in his new role as an elected Senator of the States and the Commission is now loaded with politicians rather than the independent people that Deputy Wimberley had originally intended.

Every effort is being made by the old guard to ensure that virtually no reform takes place.
The media is manipulated as always to present a defence of the status quo and the Commission has already indicated that it will be pursuing a very narrow interpretation of its Terms of Reference.

Now, as in 1769, the people of Jersey cannot rely upon the government of the Island to address the many problems that are obvious in this community of just 100,000.
Unfairness and lack of equality runs throughout so many aspects of official political thinking which has scant regard for international obligations or standards.

Problems of poverty, poor housing, inadequate heath care and such like – which the protestors of 1769 were concerned with – remain unsolved or addressed.

The reforms of government itself and the lack of democratic representation - another major part of the 1769 grievances - also remain unresolved and it seems unlikely that the current Electoral Commission will support change for the better.

Peaceful protest on the streets, public debate, the free expression and exchange of ideas to challenge the political status quo - these are the wholly respectable and democratic rights of the people in a democratic society.

As in 1769, it is surely now necessary for the public to take the initiative for reform and remove the discussion away from the too cosy and restricted confines of the States Chamber and out of the clutches of complacent officials and their media mouthpieces.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Constable Pallett of St Brelade - what happened?

Yesterday’s Scrutiny Panel hearing concerned the Economic Affairs Panel, the Medium Term Financial Plan and the Economic Development Department.

Almost everything that is wrong with Jersey government was on display. Some of the shortcomings are discussed in the interview here with Constable Pallett of St Brelade but in the light of the current Electoral Commission’s work, there is much more that needs to be said in other places.

Quite how the politically progressive Steve Pallett has become transformed into an ultra-conservative Constable in such a short time is a mystery to me, especially since he is evidently the same decent thinking and friendly chap.

His views as expressed here on the role of Constables both in and outside the States certainly cause me to be even more concerned about any future activities for this powerful group.

The fact that his fellow Panel member Constable Paddock of St Ouen sat through the entire 75 minutes of this public hearing without contributing anything beyond  speaking his name – says a great deal to me. But why was he there?

Much the same could be asked about Assistant Minister Deputy Baker (sitting in for the EDD Minister absent for legitimate family reasons) but he spoke for only a few sentences – 2 minutes at most – whilst the EDD CO Mike King hogged the entire proceedings.

Even when Deputy Baker asked to be able to “say a few words regarding question three” his request was ignored. The discussion carried on without him!

Of course the whole scrutiny hearing was led by Deputy Luce of St Martin as chair of the Panel but he clearly sees the purpose to be just a friendly, well-rehearsed PR chat.
When ever the questions seemed to ruffle the feathers of CO King, Deputy Luce was apologetic – saying we don’t mean to be critical etc….!

A case in point was when Steve Pallett raised the international human rights question (which was presumably not according to the prepared script) and this was obviously intended – as a political question – for Deputy Baker – but King took over and Luce moved the discussion on to other matters, just as soon as he could.

If Scrutiny has managed to make their pod-cast system work then this full discussion can be accessed on-line.
But why are the Committee of Constables allowed to meet in total secrecy with no published agenda and no public participation etc etc and why oh why does a  formerly progressive chap such as Steve Pallet believe  this to be satisfactory?

We should all be very worried – but at least we have Friday 28 September to look forward to when we can all vent our frustrations in the proper place – in public – and discuss such things and many more whilst getting organised for change with or without our elected representatives…..

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Jersey First Scrutiny Podcast - WORLD EXCLUSIVE

JERSEY ROYAL GREEN SLIME saves the day and the Jersey economy….

Architecturally speaking we always used to say – if it’s a mistake then make a feature of it.
Thus we have Le Carbuncle on the Waterfront whereas the world at large has the legacy of Charles-Edouard Jeanneret aka Le Corbusier to grapple with (and if you saw the size of his nose you would understand why he was nick-named after the crow)…

Meanwhile today was full of excitement (or was it excrement?) and it was so handy because of the launching of the new Pod-Casting of Scrutiny hearings (but not meetings) so that we can all enjoy the Scrutiny experience from the comfort of our own armchairs.

First up today was Deputy Green the Housing Minister trying to justify his Housing Transformation programme in the context of the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFR).
He batted bravely for an hour but it is obvious to anybody that his grand plans (that have already been kicking around for years), are virtually dead in the water.
As he kept saying, we have had discussions with the Treasury minister aka Ozo le Crocquodile and the funding is there!!!! Oh yes – pull the other sausage and in spite of some very deep and consistent probing by Deputy Reed he would not confirm that Le Crocque had confirmed as much in writing.  And he also needed the Planning Minister to re-zone more land for urgently needed building sites too. Some hope!

Wonder why he is called Green…

Next it was the Assistant Minister for Health – who looked so much like Constable Refault the Assistant Housing Minister who had appeared with Deputy Green - that they must surely be twins? Anyway relationships did not matter very much because it was his Finance Officer “Jason” who did most of this team’s talking on the MTFP and once again it was more about faith than factual evidence of funding for the famous “White Paper” proposals.

The role of charities aka the “Third Sector” was a strong undercurrent theme because of recent reductions in grants and the supposed need to “purchase services” with SLAs (aka Service level Agreements) after “robust tendering”…but it was evident that nobody wanted to utter the words SILKWORTH LODGE because that was still a weeping sore.

Also it was clear that the true cost of providing private services in the hospital was sensitive because it seems that there are long waiting lists for the general public needing surgery but private patients are a better earner.
So good in fact that the operating theatres may be running at 90% capacity which not only exceeds the UK average of only 60% (what a load a shirkers) but also creates a risk of nasty infections (oh dear)…

Once again it was pretty much apparent that the creature with the teeth was in control behind the curtain and that all these grand plans for a new hospital “needed in 10 years time” are just a dream or something to talk about during the long winter nights….

Next it was Deputy Duhamel’s turn again and we have watched him defending his little Planning & Environment Department on a previous occasion. This was his Quarterly grilling before the Environment Scrutiny Panel and the heat was turned full up for an hour’s thorough basting. He must enjoy it.
Deputy Young was in a surprisingly aggressive mood for an ex Planning Chief Officer (did he leave under a cloud harbouring a grievance?) and wanted all the muck exposed – and there was certainly plenty of it.  Excrement – human and animal – ash – fly and bottom – asbestos - nitrates and pesticides - you name it and we have it in Jersey in abundance and there are hidden leeching wonders buried at Mont Mado that we have not yet even dreamed of.

What are you going to do about it? Was the main questioning line as can be imagined.  In fact, it transpires there are all sorts of interesting options and some of them might even comply with International Conventions, which was nice to hear….

Unfortunately yours truly had to leave at this point to attend Royal Court No 2 where Harcourt Ltd (under various names) was due to challenge Le Crocquodile in legal combat!

It was great pity because Deputy Duhamel was just about to explain that it was the new CEO of the States who – in a former role – had made the decision to dump tons of asbestos waste in steel containers on the reclaimed land near La Collette industrial zone and the corrosive sea.
Quelle horreur!!! Who shall pay for this folly? Let’s hope he will accept his £500,000 severance pay in instalments because the treasure chest must be nearly empty by now…

The Court proceedings were a disappointment.  Neither Harcourt nor their lawyers (Ogier) appeared – much to the dismay of Commissioner Clyde-Smith who even asked yours truly if I was representing them. I declined the offer although the pay would have been nice and after a short recess (when we gather that some hasty e-mails were exchanged) the decision was to adjourn the hearing until 27 September in order to allow for Mr Power or his company to appoint fresh lawyers. In the meantime a fixed sum of £600 towards costs was payable within 7 days.

The very youthful looking Solicitor-General Sharp had acted out his call for the action to be struck-out and the Judge condemned Mr Power’s lack of courtesy for non-attendance but due to the substantial amount of Harcourt’s claim and the complex nature of the case felt that there should be another chance to appear to justify their action.
Ogiers were criticised for failing to answer to the SG’s letters (which might even be against be against the Law Society’s Code!) and the SG was mildly rebuked for failing to include all his legal authorities in “the bundle” but quite why Ogiers had fallen out with Harcourt was unknown… ….perhaps it was all a result of the infill pollution that was still troubling the Planning Minister when I returned to that hearing which had at least attracted a public audience of 15 concerned about the Green Slime…after all, there have been instances of death caused by the rotting stuff near St Malo.

Also revealed was that the water we receive through our taps from Jersey Water is actually more polluted by nitrates than the stuff that flows into St Aubin’s Bay to feed the algae that turns everything green! The figures are apparently 50mgs per litre max for drinking water but only 10mgs per litre for all that excrement polluted waste water that pours out from Bellozanne every day under TTS rules.
Of course this does not include the entire chemical and excrement polluted run-off from agri- activities etc that finds its way into the Island’s foremost bay to such a visible and smelly result.

By 3.55pm, other dire tales of heavy metals and sludge being spread on fields or put into the new incinerator to create yet more fly ash had just about put the tin hat on this Minister’s future career. There was simply too much bad news being revealed here – the States PR machine would have to be working overtime for months ahead if this continued…

But the Minister had a trump card yet to play – the Slime was a valuable commodity.
Not only did the Japanese want it by the ton to eat but it was also good for cleaning teeth (after a bit of modification) and a multitude of other uses besides spreading it on spud fields as every Jerseyman knew already.
So out of adversity there was good news – the day’s proceedings ended on a happy note. Punch loves Judy. The economy is sound. The future is GREEN…

Mr Punch….Deputy Duhamel
Ozo Le Crocquodile….himself
1st sausage….Deputy Moore
2nd sausage…Deputy Reed
Other sausages….themselves
Judy…..Deputy Martin
Clown…Deputy Hilton
Invisible man….Senator Gorst
Sound effects and unsound affects… Constable Refault

Next instalment will feature the “Man from Mars” on space travel at speeds in excess of 40 mph and managing economic development.