Monday, April 21, 2014

Sandra's New Flat!!!! Jersey Housing Department's seasonal joke in 4 parts...

Sandra  and her daughter have featured in several previous blog postings and even the JEP and other "accredited media" have reported on her housing and related problems.

The "black mould" of condensation was the most recent focus of attention but her difficulties are even more profound because Sandra has disabilities which require her to have specially adapted accommodation.
It's quite simple really. For example,  if you cannot open  windows  because they cannot be reached or are too stiff to operate - then good ventilation cannot be achieved and condensation results....

There is no point in blaming the tenant - the simple fact is that the flat is poorly designed for her specific needs - and after all, we all need to have windows that can be opened whether we are classed as "disabled" or otherwise....

Yet there are more specific design needs that follow from disability - such as grab handles in appropriate places - especially around toilets and baths - and there is a need for extra space to accommodate wheelchairs or other disability aids...and to use the toilet or bath or even to move around other rooms.

As we say now,  its not rocket science - but you would think that the Jersey Housing Department has never had to consider such matters before  because they have offered Sandra the key to the door of the flat as shown on the videos that follow...
The departmental staff seem to think that it's an improvement but in fact it offers worse accommodation than Sandra's current flat in Liberation Court (which is less than 20 years old).

As can be seen the latest flat is just simply not suitable for a person with her severe disabilities and as we have already told  Minister  Deputy Green many times before ( and he has personal knowledge of disability in his own family) - standard issue flats are just simply not suitable for this tenant or others with similar needs.

What is Sandra supposed to do with her (two) disability scooters - where can they be parked and charged from the electricity supply?
They are her legs after all so cannot be dispensed with at a whim....and they are very heavy and her daughter has already injured her back by trying to move them about ....and we have already complained to the Fire Department about the danger of parking these to block escape routes because there is nowhere else...

So  please look at these fours parts of our video and try to put yourself in Sandra's seat....

...and bear in mind that "Social Housing" is soon to be handed over to the private company called Andium from July and that Deputy Green the Housing Minister has already announced his intention to quit this office with his eyes on the Health Department - where the declared new policy is that people should care for themselves "in their own homes"...!

With Andium under the Chair of a UK resident receiving £40,000 for  his 30 hours annual attention to the problems of Sandra and thousands of others with real housing needs and the Health service already reeling from shortages and inadequacies and a similar planned "user pays" policy - the future looks ever more grim for those with specific needs and limited resources of their own....

And whilst we have your attention - why is Sandra's  18 years old daughter not treated as her carer and rewarded financially and given the appropriate support too...?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

£200,000 to spend a penny in Jersey....

"Changing Places" is a UK campaign seeking to make public toilet facilities available to severely disabled people. Nothing wrong with that at all and it is absolutely essential that toilet facilities are available for everybody in public places - even in Jersey.

Unfortunately the provision of public toilets in this Island is not adequate at all and disabled persons experience a very bad deal.
All Island there are 18 "unisex" disabled persons toilets, 7 for "ladies and gents" and 4  in St Helier (according to the currently issued official fact sheet).
In fact the information is not totally accurate since it includes Conway Street (currently demolished) and does not include Snow Hill or the new facilities in the Millennium Park or the Seale Street Changing Places facility....
Many, but not all "disabled persons" toilets need a special key to gain access.
Usually this is the "Radar" key which can be obtained through the Town Hall, Tourism Office or the Shopmobility centre in Sand Street Car Park for a £5 to £10 returnable deposit and some form filling.
St Brelade's Parish Hall has one key which it will lend to those wanting to use the toilet there but generally the all-island availability is uncertain and inadequate. How many other Parishes issue the keys and where else they can be obtained in Jersey is not known...
Visitors to Jersey will probably arrive already equipped with the "Radar" key which is standard issue, can be cut by any locksmith and is available on "e-bay" etc

There are now 2 "Changing Places" toilets in Jersey accessible to the disabled public only. These are located in Seale Street (back of the St Helier Town Hall - managed by the Parish) and in the Millennium Park (David Place, St Helier) managed by TTS.
These both require the same special key fob which can be obtained from the Town Hall by people with severe disabilities only who must complete an application form and pay a £10 deposit.

A previous posting here in May 2012 reported on the public opening of the Seale Street facility - fitted out in an existing building at a cost of £90,000 plus.
So far only about 10 key fobs have been issued and the use remains minimal.
The video above shows the Seale Street facility and potential user Sam Lally.
The sad fact is that the facility was built without proper research regarding demand or location and discussions are now taking place to try to increase its use.
The Millennium Park "Changing Places" facility - shown above -  was built by TTS because the 2007 Building Bye laws (as amended following Deputy Green's lobbying in the States) demands that all new public toilets shall include one - besides a more conventional "disabled persons" toilet.
Its "shared" management between TTS and the Parish does not seem to be a happy one and it remains virtually unused so far as anybody knows.
It presumably cost over £100,000 to build.

The big difference between a "Changing Places" and more conventional "disabled persons"toilet is that these provide an electric hoist to lift the severely disabled user, assisted by a helping carer, from wheelchair to wc and then to washing /changing platform etc as necessary. The wc does not have the same "grab handles" etc found in a more conventional "disabled persons" toilet and the UK organisation insists upon the higher level of provision to be achieved within the "Changing Places" designation.
Inevitably, in Jersey the number of persons who will  use the "Changing Places" facilities in these or any other location, is limited.

Yet major office developments such as the Waterfront have no requirement to provide "Changing Places" standard facilities unless "public" toilets are planned. On the other hand, new developments of shops, transport centres or theatres must provide them....

So what to do - and how might the other 11 Parishes be required to improve their "public toilets" provision for all? Yours truly has suggested that the whole topic of "public toilet" provision should be subject to a Scrutiny Panel Review but this has been several times rejected....

Meanwhile the provision of public toilets remains a bit of a scandal throughout the Island and the following 3 short video clips look only at the most central area of St Helier...

But if you ever need to spend a penny and provided you are over 18 years of age - here is my tip - pop into your nearest betting shop. The toilets there are almost always clean and usually designed to suit the needs of "disabled persons" too - although baby or adult changing facilities are not provided.

Sadly, the current "Changing Places" provision in Jersey is an ill conceived attempt to do the right thing but will only discredit the cause of disabled persons if left unchanged.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Alan Collins English Solicitor - Advocate and the Jersey Care Inquiry April 2014

Alan Collins (above) was recorded on 3 April following the first public meeting of the Jersey Care Inquiry.
Those who attended heard an impressive sounding introduction from Frances Oldham QC the Chair and received bundles of documents on protocols and procedures to study and the Terms of Reference appeared superficially comprehensive....but no questions were allowed and the QC with her two  fellow panellists made a speedy departure from the hall.
Left behind to explain more to the audience - which included several SOJ Police Officers   - were the UK  Counsels and Solicitors who will do much of the "legal" work.
These four (with one absent on the day) claimed to be experienced in running such as the "Bloody Sunday" Irish Inquiry and helpfully engaged in a Q and A session around the table with some of the more interested parties - including "bloggers".

But for people so widely experienced the four seemed to have a rather limited grasp of the scale of the problem in mounting an Inquiry which spans the years from 1945 to date in this strange little community and potential flaws soon became apparent....

Time will tell of course but it also became apparent that this may be a commodity in short supply and that those who want the TOR to be fully explored may yet have to do much of the investigative work themselves.
If research is going to be undertaken it was not obvious who might be employed on this team to do it.
Unless somebody out there has an enormous ready prepared file of clippings from the JEP for example and/or extracts of court cases since the war, then there are likely to be many gaps in the basic record to work from....

And if  witnesses and those with knowledge are to be alerted and located from around the world it must also be obvious that an Inquiry Web Page alone will hardly find them...

So on reflection - not a very impressive start - and some of these matters are discussed in the interview with Alan Collins who has represented 59 Jersey "survivors" in the Compensation scheme arising from Haut de la Garenne etc abuses.
His role in this Inquiry is not at all clear and there are many obscure aspects of the procedures to be followed that might have been better discussed and agreed in public before these rules were laid down.

Were these modelled on a previous Inquiry somewhere else? Yes confirmed the four...all the more worrying thought yours truly....

Alan Collins (formerly with Pannone) is now with  lawyers Slater & Gordon (twitter @ slatergordon or AlanCollins@abuselaw) in the UK  and is a Specialist Child Abuse Solicitor.
Previous interviews with him have been posted on this blog on 23 August 2013, 15 December 2012 and 16 August 2012.

The Independent Jersey Care Inquiry can be contacted at POB 551, St Helier, Jersey, JE4 8XN
Freephone from Jersey 0800 735 0100