Monday, March 24, 2014

Daniel Wimberley at CHOW talk 3 March 2014 "Truth, honesty and trust in the Public Arena - with a Quaker twist."

The following videos were recorded at the CHOW /Business Connect Jersey meeting on 3 March 2014 and includes most of Daniel Wimberley's talk.
The Q and A sections were not recorded.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Evelyn's continuing pain - and Jersey's shame continues....

We posted here on 17 November 2013 about Evelyn's fight to stay alive and her campaign to be relieved from pain using cannabis. We updated her initial interviews with a follow-up recorded in hospital (on the same blog) in January 2014.

Now Deputy Monty Tadier has asked some questions in the States assembly and the Attorney General is considering the legal implications. Although it seems that there is already legislation in place to allow cannabis to be prescribed locally for medical uses there is the usual official reluctance to admit this...

The two part interview posted below was recorded this week;

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A scaffold erected in the Royal Square! - but just the usual discriminatory incompetence....

The "States Building" in the Royal Square is Jersey's most important public building.
It is not only the seat of government but also houses the offices of the Bailiff and the Royal Courts, Judicial Greffe and Scrutiny Offices and their administration....but of course it is not really a "public" building at all because we - the paying public - are only admitted "under sufferance".

Moves are afoot to make public access even more restricted soon with  stricter surveillance at the entrances with body and baggage searches following some organisation or other's "Report".
Of course this will inevitably be another excuse to employ yet more "private" security officers who are not answerable to us and will cost a great deal of money - although they will probably be employed on minimal wages under Zero hours "contracts."

How much better it would be to spend the money to address the ancient problem of poor acoustics within the Courts for most people - especially in the museum piece that is Royal Court No 1 - or to improve the ridiculous and restrictive circular stairs that are the public's only means of access to the "Gallery" of the States Chamber.

If the same "organisation" that reported on the security of States Members etc was equally concerned about the welfare of the public, that "Gallery" would have been closed years ago on safety grounds. Never mind that it is totally inaccessible to those with mobility impairments or who experience "vertigo" and there are no public toilets of course.

It may be appropriate that the well named "Cock and Bottle" pub in the Royal Square is generally happy to provide the "necessary" that our government is not...for those that can face the descent and climb back up the stairs....

Meanwhile from now until mid- May this most important public building is shrouded in scaffolding for the purposes of redecoration.
Usually this activity precedes a Royal Visit or some other jolly occasion but, once again the money would probably be better spent on improving facilities for the paying public...

As it is, the scaffolding serves to further reduce access to the building for many - as the interview with newly elected Deputy Le Cornu here explains...

Yours truly spoke with about half a dozen others from our elected reps in the Royal Square and none would agree to be recorded but it is truly amazing, that on the very same day that the feeble Anti-Discrimination Regulations were being debated,  none of our States Members  or the Law Officers, or  Bailiff or Dean or any others in authority had even noticed that the scaffolding was a barrier to access  for so many members of the public who might want to engage with the government, or the courts etc etc

The ramp upon which the scaffolding is erected is the only means of access for many and there is no attempt to give information about alternatives or assistance.
The Minister with responsibility for this building through TTS is Deputy Lewis. We were not able to find him to ask about this although he did appear before a Scrutiny Panel yesterday but no questions or concerns were raised about this matter there...

Several States Members today promised to raise the matter when prompted in the Square....we will report again in due course.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

SSTAG in exile blog site - Social Security Tribunal latest...

Another Social Security Tribunal hearing....

The latest Social Security Tribunal hearing on 27 February was open to the public. The applicant was asked outside the room if he objected to the public being present and he confirmed that he had no objection. So yours truly attended and can report as follows.

The dispute with the Social Security department arose because the applicant had been awarded a 10% long term incapacity award for a shoulder problem. This amounted to a lump sum payment of about £1300 for the period from October 2013 to March 2015.

He had previously been awarded a similar 10% award and received the money without any difficulty but since then has been claiming Income Support and he has another ongoing 70% award, paid as a regular payment (not a lump sum) with his Income Support, for kidney failures (for which he receives dialysis).

He is 52 year of age and unable to work (but the 10% award was made without any further Medical board examination. It was based upon previous information as the applicant explained to yours truly after the hearing).

Unfortunately, having accepted the £1300 and used it to settle some outstanding debts ( including a loan of £800 towards his parents’ funeral etc and a JEC bill) the Social Security department decided that it should be treated as “income” and duly proceeded to re-claim it ( except for 6% “disregard”) from his Income Support award.

The result is that the applicant is no better off. The 10% award has actually created problems because he has settled debts which could have been spread over time and the money used for other essential purposes.

The letters from the SS Department were discussed in some detail – were they clear enough? Did the applicant understand what they said etc?

In fact the SS law had been changed in 2011, presumably under Francis Le Gresley’s direction – so that Long Term Incapacity awards (LTIA) were no longer to be treated as “capital” for Income Support assessment purpose but were considered as “income”. The applicant’s original award at 10% was “capital” but the current one was “income” and so was clawed back...

The applicant explained how he was unaware of this and would have had the award paid on a regular basis instead of a one off lump sum if he had known.

But the SS Department explained that a 10% award must be taken as a lump sum – it cannot be paid with Income Support like the 70% award.

There is no discretion either – the SS Department must pay the money out too because the law demands it. In other words the applicant cannot refuse to receive it (unless appealing against the decision itself) although there is a bit of a grey area if the money is paid out and the applicant then appeals within the 3 months period allowed...

The SS Officers explained that there was some discretion available to them regarding redundancy payments or where a property value diminished to become a “negative equity” but in this case there were no exceptional circumstance and it was a common place occurrence. Many others have been treated in the same way they explained...

All due notifications had been made they said and there was no reason to change the decision (which had been confirmed by the Second Determining Officer in accordance with the Department’s own internal reconsideration process).

The Decision and other things.

The Tribunal members -  Chair Advocate Thacker with Mrs S Le Monnier and Mr A. Hall - agreed and rejected the appeal. There were no exceptional circumstances.

They did though raise the question of the  letters sent out by the SS Department  and whether these needed to be phrased more clearly and they did advise the applicant that the Minister does have an ultimate discretion to reconsider or change decisions and that he could approach him.

As is usual, the Tribunal’s findings will be sent to the Department – but what happens to all such decisions is a mystery to yours truly. There does not seem to be an archive for the public to look at or to enable such important decisions to be analysed and discussed.

It is the usual “Jersey way” of sloppy and incomplete administration...

The Tribunal hearing lasted about 45 minutes and the decision was delivered after a short retirement. It was well conducted and the applicant presented his simple case well.

There was one other person present in the “public” seats who appeared to be an observer for the SS Department. No “accredited media” attended.