Monday, October 28, 2013

Guy Fawkes or Sir Walter Raleigh - who was the greatest traitor?

Remember, remember the fifth of November, Gunpowder, Treason and Plot....
but we seem to have forgotten what lies behind this annual celebration.
And we - especially in Jersey - have not considered the similar role of Sir Walter Raleigh, Governor of the Island from 1600 until mid 1603.
By the time that Guy Fawkes was arrested on 5 November 1605 about to blow up Parliament, Sir Walter had already been sentenced to death for his part in the earlier stages of virtually the same plot. and been imprisoned for two years in the Tower of London.

In the following interviews, Guy Fawkes, the Roman Catholic mercenary soldier from Yorkshire explains some of the background to his campaign against his Protestant adversaries and the path that led to his death on the scaffold following dreadful torture.
He also explores some of the modern equivalents and the role of "Royalty" in our life today.

Video Part One that follows is about 6.5 minutes long;

Part Two below is about 10 minutes and starts with Guy Fawkes introducing Sir Walter Raleigh and examines his contradictory role as hero - whereas Sir Walter was in fact just as blameworthy (if anybody is blameworthy for trying to overthrow a tyranny) and should be burned in effigy too.

Sir Walter married "Bess" Throckmorton in secret from Queen Elizabeth's court and was virtually exiled from London society as a result. But the Throckmortons had a very strong Catholic hatred of the Royal House and Francis Throckmorton was executed in 1583 following his own scheming with Mary Queen of Scots.
Yet other Throckmortons were related to prominent organisers of the Guy Fawkes plot such as Catesby, Wintour and Tresham so Sir Walter Raleigh was already in the front line by marriage when he bacame the "bagman" in 1603 and promised to carry the 600,000 Spanish crowns through Jersey to finance the revolters in England. His commission was a substantial cash payment and a pension for life but he was arrrested before delivering.
Instead Sir Walter was tried and sentenced to death for treason but he hung on incarcarated in the Tower of London until 1616. Then he was released in order to carry just one more expedition - piracy by any other name - in search of more Spanish plunder. After that failure he returnd to London and was executed by beheading in accordance with his 1603 sentence.

So why do we now - especially in Jersey - "celebrate" the execution of Guy Fawkes today whereas our very own former "Royal" Governor, the wholly disgraced Sir Waltyer Raleigh, is considered to be an "hero"....?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

More complaints about Jersey's Complaints Board

Dave Manning's Complaints Board public hearing - taking part in a mini-bus!

Dave Manning, who has become famous over the past 40 years re Field 1007 at St John was appearing before a Complaints Board on 23 October at St John’s Parish Hall.

I was the only member of the public sitting in the public seats except for Mike Stein – a former senior Planning Officer – who was there with his “Interested Party” – a neighbour of Mr Manning at St John who presumably initiated the whole thing by complaining about his use of Field 1007…

In fact, it was not made clear who actually made the initial complaint and neither Mr Stein nor his “Interested Party” was allowed to speak – although they had submitted papers which were included “in the bundle” presented to the Board….

Mr Manning complained about these papers – was it legally correct he asked for a Third Party submission to be included in the file?
It was just the first of many interesting questions asked during the next few hours and Board Chair Christine Vibert did not know the answer. She offered the view “It is a bit hazy” but that the papers had been inserted by the Greffe.
Mr Manning countered that he was asking for them to be removed…

There were to be more questions later about Officers of the Planning Office communicating with their former colleague Mr Stein but the rules were never very clearly laid down and the haze became even deeper and widespread as the hearing proceeded…

Yours truly, in the interests of clarity, asked at the outset whether video recording was allowed. Absolutely no! Was the Chair’s response. And how about the site visit – could I record there? No.
But that is not what has happened in the past I protested and this is supposed to be a public hearing…No, No video recording said Chair Christine – “but I will allow you just one photograph”.
At this point Board member John Mills interjected “No, I won’t allow any photograph of me” and third member (lawyer) Geoffrey Crill also joined in but his words were not clear enough to penetrate the fog.
Mr Manning, on whose land the site visit would take place confirmed that he had no objection at all to the proceedings being video- recorded.
His supporter, people’s rep Deputy John Young – said nothing on the matter.

Although this was supposed to be a “hearing in public”, as already explained, the public were absent. There had of course been no advertising of the event in the Gazette and the JEP and other media did not apparently advise of it – even if they were aware of it taking place.
Quite how the general public is supposed to know in advance of such hearings has always been a source of discontent with this blogger and I have campaigned on the matter for years.
On this occasion I had been personally told by Mr Manning that the meeting would take place on this date etc but the Greffe’s liability to advise the public is at best, uncertain.
Since such hearings are complaints against the administration of States Departments it is curious that no better and wider publicity is given to them. There was not even a notice outside the St John’s Parish Hall advertising the hearing and of course, it is not helpful that these take place generally around the Parishes, so that location, time, date etc etc are changed at “whim.”

No “accredited press” attended either.
Presumably any media reports will be based upon the usual Press Release from the Greffe or some other States Communications Unit.
In other words, they will be based upon the “official government line” and of course, the subsequent decision of the Board.

At the hearing there was no sound system in use either for the ease of those present or to make a recorded transcript. In fact the sound levels in the small, first floor “Committee Room” were reasonably OK but no sign indicated a sound loop….Access by lift was available however.
A clerk from the Greffe kept written notes – but what happens to these overtime is not clear to this blogger.
In fact there is not even a complete register of previous Board decisions so it is impossible for a potential complainant to check them for precedents or similar circumstances….

So the Board, their team and Mr Manning then drove to the nearby Field 1007 to see the site in context.
Unfortunately, the rain poured down immediately we all arrived so that the initial discussions took place within the official mini-bus. Mr Stein and yours truly stood outside getting wet but able to hear nothing.
I took the photo – presumably my only permitted photo - as posted here, to indicate the public meeting in progress.
Eventually we too were allowed into the “public” van to hear the proceedings. Mr Stein was allowed to offer some clarification on dates.
But when the windows misted up so that the “site” outside could no longer be sited, the Board adjourned back to the Parish Hall.

It is necessary to explain, as did Deputy Young, that he was supporting Mr Manning because both his St John Constable (Rondel) and Deputy (Ryan) had declined. He had responded to Mr Manning’s request for assistance in spite of being an elected rep for St Brelade.
It was an interesting insight into the myths of Jersey’s system of elected representation and exposed the difficulties experienced by potential complainants seeking help…when did you last know of a Constable presenting such a case for a Parishioner…?

The Planning and Environment Department was represented solely by Planning Officer Townsend. There was no elected politician speaking for the government administration although in times past it was ruled that the relevant Minister (or President) must always be present at such hearings…

Dave Manning presented his case very competently. He is an experienced campaigner since 1970 regarding this Field but, of course, most people with a complaint and seeking a fair hearing would be intimidated by the whole process.

That less than a dozen hearings take place every year from a population of 100,000 indicates that the system of making complaints against the entire Jersey administration, is substantially defective.
It is of course a very pale imitation of the “Ombudsman” system that operates in other places against all aspects of government decision making and many other aspects of experienced bureaucracy.

In Gibraltar, with a population of less than 30,000, hundreds of hearings take place each year and thousands of complaints are made. Many through a system that actually seeks out the transgressions of the government and initiates action – even when no individual has come forward to complain.

Jersey’s system is hopeless and the few decisions made cannot be enforced.

In this particular instance the Board Chair explained that they will try to report back before Christine Vibert goes on holiday for a month from 1st November. If not, the parties must wait. Is this really indicative of an adequate system – one that relies upon volunteers finding some spare time to deal with the complaints of fellow citizens that might be suffering untold grief or worries…?

As this blogger has written previously, the Complaints Board system needs to be scrapped in its present form.
It may be that the Scrutiny Panel system needs extending to include “individual grievances” too but the current systems available to the general public are so hopelessly inadequate that there must be Human Rights implications raised.
Of course, with our famous Jersey own Brand lawyers charging £300 an hour just to speak to people with grievances or complaints the pursuit of justice is just a dream for so many.

Mr Manning is unique and I am offering no comments on his case here but I shall eat my tricorn if he fails to succeed in this instance.

I invited Deputy Young to be interviewed on these matters and more but he declined “until after this decision is known.”

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

St Clement Parish Green Zone meeting 15 October 2013

Video one - Deputy Duhamel confronts the St Clement Parishioners before the main contest;

Video two - runs about 19 minutes
Deputy Rob Duhamel (Minister for Planning & Environment) presents his case introduced by Constable Len Norman.
CO Skate says nothing here.
Questions from the floor may feature in a later video if anybody is interested in seeing them.

What was especially interesting to this Parishioner was that the £200,000 referred to by Deputy Duhamel as the fair price for "affordable" housing does not include the cost of land.
He was a bit vague about private deleopments of "affordable" units and how mortgages might be obtained for couples on his 2x £28,000 (joint £56,000) salaries might be obtained from commercial lenders.
However, he did explain that private developers who might obtain permission to build on rezoned former Green Zone land, would have tight restrictions imposed on their permits.
And, if they did not proceed with the development then States Compulsory Purchase powers would be used to take over the deevelopments in the puiblic interest.
He also referred to taxation of gains being introduced where land was re-zoned....

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Do we need a Green Zone? What use is the Jersey Island Plan?

Part One discussion above about 18 minutes

Part Two discussion above about 23 minutes

This two part video discussion relates to the written submission of September 2013 to the “Planning” office. That submission is posted on this blog on 21 September as “Heads in the Sands” and is a response to the planners’ invitation for comments on its proposed revisions to the 2011 Island Plan.
Among a wad of papers almost as thick as the Island Plan itself the planners outline some possible re-drafting of the Island Plan and in particular that some sites in the “Green Zone” should be re-zoned for housing purposes.

My view is that the whole Island Plan should be scrapped because successive Plans, produced at enormous cost, have proved to be virtually useless. The only sector the economy that has been prosperous during recent years is “finance” and that is the one that has received little or no attention under the “Plans”.

On the other hand, Tourism, light industry and agriculture have been largely ruined and the provision of Housing is a disaster.

What other community, with such “prosperity” could have 10,000 working adults – a fifth of the working population – who are not allowed even to rent or buy proper living accommodation, even if it were available! Such is the dreadful result of Island Plans produced over the past fifty years or so….

Even the Strategic Plan agreed by the States undertakes to house everybody in Jersey adequately and to eliminate discrimination….but the Planners evidently work to a totally different and unique agenda of their own!!!

At the very least I say that the Green Zone part of the Island Plan needs to be removed. The true housing and other needs of all the people – not just cows, potatoes and rich residents – needs to be totally re-assessed and other demands on land reconsidered.

The two part video discussion reveals that there is still an emotional clinging to the concept of the “Green Zone” by both politicians here (without much evidence) whilst the Architect is confidently willing to build.

The participants in the video are Deputy Rob Duhamel (Planning and Environment Minister), Deputy John Young (a former Chief Officer at the Planning Department) and Architect Derek Mason.

Some previous blogs here that relate to this are;
21 September 2013 “Heads in the Sand” Island Plan submission of Mike Dun
28 August 2013 Interview with Architect Derek Mason
9 July 2013 Minister Rob Duhamel interview
20 June 2013 Video documentary on Accessible v Pretty buildings in Jersey
9 March 2013 Deputy Green Housing Minister interview re “Non-qualified” residents
5 December 2012 Architect Paul Harding re Plemont
24 September 2012 The Battle for Plemont
23 March 2012 Minister Rob Duhamel “Planning for the Future”
6 January 2012 Architect Paul Harding on Care provision in Jersey
18 October 2011  some housing Election promises…


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Outsiders in Jersey 2013...discrimination as a way of life...?

This video interview with two Romanians living in Jersey runs for about 21 minutes.
Most "newcomers" settling in Jersey face similar problems of finding a job and somewhere to live but it is unusual that they cannot claim the full benefit of their Social Security and Income Tax contributions until they have worked for at least 5 consecutive years working at least 35 hours per week. So far as housing accommodation is concerned they will have few rights to rent or buy accommodation until they have been resident for at least 10 years. In this interview "Jimmy" and "Edward" complain that it is unfair that they pay into public funds but have only a limited chance to enjoy the result. What actually happens to our contributions they ask. Furthermore they suggest that perhaps some money should be given back to them if they leave the Island - as happens in other places. Or, some of their contributions might be transferred to the Romanian government to help provide for their welfare in future as a pension. They even suggest "repatriation" as a possible answer and they suggest other things too such as the appointment of a Consul in Jersey to help represent their interests here. After all, no States Mambers seem very keen to speak up for the 10,000 working adults from all nations that try to survive in Jersey doing so many of the jobs that others do not want or at wages that cannot provide an adequate standard of living. The £5 fee that some Jersey people are complaining about as a charge from their schools for providing evidence of residence under the new Registration seems like a trifling matter compared with some of the difficulties and obstacles now put in the way of "newcomers" in Jersey which are clearly intended to encouarge them to move on...