Thursday, 6 December 2012

Jersey in Transition (JiT) December

  • Green Drinks - Thursday 6 December, 7.30 - 9.30 pm at the Town House, New St, St Helier. Drinks and a chat in front of the open fire. Eco this and climate that, Christmas is coming and we're all getting fat. Bag of crisps anyone?
  • Open Meditation - Tuesday 11 December, 6.00 - 6.40 pm under cover at Liberty Wharf, or outside in Liberation Square if the weather is fine and if people prefer. Thirty minutes of silent sitting followed by ten minutes of sound bath. Please bring your voices, your mantras, singing bowls, chimes, bring a candle, bring your cushion or stall for sitting meditation. Bring everyone! A moment of stillness at the turn of the year... Everyone welcome, all ages, from every path, experienced in meditation or not.
  • J-CAN monthly meeting - Tuesday 11 December, 8.00 - 9.30 pm at the Town House, New St, St Helier.
  • Upcycling (sewing) - Thursday 13 December, 6.30 - 8.30 pm at the Harbour Gallery, St Aubin. Finish your handmade Christmas presents and decorations. As always, it is important that you book in with Kirsten, so that she knows approximate numbers, either by phone 485976, via Facebook, or by e-mail at
  • Giving Table - Saturday 15 December, 10.00 am - 3.00 pm, at the junction of Don St and King St, St Helier. Our Christmas gifts for weary Christmas shoppers. We need your unwanted items - good things that you no longer use, but which will make somebody happy this year as they give them a new life. Please bring items to give either at the start, from 9.30 am while we're setting up, or at any time during the day directly to the stall. You can also give items in advance either to Ruth or to Anna . Ruth is also organising a rota for the day to man the stall - please contact her by phone, e-mail or via Facebook if you can help for an hour. Last year, this was a joy and it worked very well.
  • JiT General Meeting - Tuesday 18 December, 7.30 pm, in 'The Boardroom', The Town House, New St, St Helier. Minutes of the last meeting are attached here, as always. Everyone welcome.
  • Film - Chasing Ice - Thursday 20 December, 8.00 pm, at the Jersey Arts Centre, Phillips Street, St Helier. Acclaimed photographer James Balog discovers undeniable evidence of our changing planet. "You've never seen images like this before... It deserves to be seen and felt on the big screen" says Robert Redford. Travelling with a team of young adventurers across the brutal Arctic, Balog risks his career and his well-being in pursuit of the biggest story facing humanity. As the politicians dawdle and the intensity of natural disasters ramps up globally, Chasing Ice (76 mins) depicts a heroic photojournalist on a mission to deliver fragile hope to our carbon-powered planet. Admission: £3, with an optional donation of £1.50. Proceeds from ticket sales will go to Jersey in Transition and sponsorship for event was kindly provided by the Jersey Cooperative Society. Bring family, friends and colleagues.
  • Yule Celebration - Friday 21 December, 6.30 - 9.00 pm, in The Press Room, The Elms, La Chéve Rue, at the top of St Peter’s Valley. All are welcome. Bring food and drink for yourselves or to share, bring 'plate bags' with whatever plates, bowls, cutlery, mugs or glasses that you need (and don't forget to take them all away with you at the end!) Bring good cheer and merriment, and we'll provide the twinkling candles, green decorations, music, teas, kettles, and somehow we'll all have a great time. Please leave quietly and promptly as there are residents and families in the other buildings.
  • Talk - Marine Conservation Zones - Thursday 27 December, 7.30 - 9.00 pm in the Café, Communicare, Quennevais Rd, St Brelade.  JiT member Sam Andrews also works on behalf of the Marine Conservation Society. In 2009, a network of marine conservation zones was proposed around the UK, including Jersey. These zones are a way of ensuring healthy, productive seas for everyone because they help control activities that are damaging so much of oceans, and rebuild damaged habitats and populations. She will talk about how they work, the challenges faced, and why we all need to stay informed and to care about our precious marine environment. Shake of the fug of Christmas and get your brain cells working again!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

What is £10 million between friends?

If anyone had any doubts that our economy was struggling, multiple items of recent news should have clarified matters.  In no particular order, Funds on deposit in Guernsey down 15% last year.  Yes their economy is not a direct parallel of ours, but is is a clear indicator that things are not wonderful.  The dropping of  £75 million development in Bath street is not a good omen either.  Ostensibly concerns of the planning department approach are cited.  There may be some credibility in that given the difficulties the Coop had over their  plans, but no one I know  would drop such a scheme just on that basis. - there's too much potential  and sunk costs.  It is much more likely to be shelved because the outlook for selling/letting  space is too low to make the project attractive, possibly even non-viable.   A third strand - we hear that passenger numbers between Jersey and the Isle of Man airports are down a lot, and  the operator of the direct route is to drop it.  That is not a tourist route, the overwhelming  proportion of the passengers are people in finance and  support industries, like IT.  Then there is the leaked news from the UK Government that they intend to introduce  FACTA type obligation, coupled with the emergency meeting response of our government. In theory it is a pointless move -all those UK investors declare their taxable income to the Inland Revenue, like good subjects.  As a 'well regulated' finance centre we do the KYC checks, and we don't open accounts for people who would not dutifully declare their income, surely.  The knee jerk response rather suggest otherwise, and if that is the case, a chunk of our primary industry is  likely to be heading far to the East.

It is hardly surprising therefore that some people think the millions it will cost us to buy Plémont is too high a price.   It is certainly true the handling of the whole Plémont saga by the States has been woeful. In fact he States of Jersey has 'form' when it comes to projects around the  £10 million mark.    There was Les Pas holdings States vote for Les Pas deal  , The Millennium Town Park, and most recently the redemption of preference shares in JT. 

In the recent debate in the States on the MTFP, there was a disagreement over the redemption  of preference shares in JT.  The core of the issue was that JT have them on their books valued at  almost £30 million, whereas the States we looking to redeem for £20 million (par value I think).  The shares produce dividends of 1.8 million a year for the States, which will disappear on redemption , of course. So did we lose £10 million on the deal?  It certainly looks like a good deal for JT - they pay out £20million in cash, eliminate a book debt of £30million , and remove an ongoing obligation to pay out £1.8 million annually.

It is important to recognise that these shares are not tradable.  There is no market in them.  The value of the shares is whatever price at which the buyer and seller are both prepared to do the deal.   The Treasury Minister argued that since we own 100% of the equity of JT , it makes no difference to us - the value of the remaining shares adjusts to reflect that extra £10million on the JT books. That is true at the point the deal is done, but of course hard cash today is different from a book value tomorrow.  It only needs JT to lose a court case, or be totally out manoeuvred by a competitor to potentially lose a lot of value.

So why was  the Treasury Minister working so hard to sell us a deal that, on paper, looks rather poor for the tax payer?  The truth is he had little choice. In order to  balance his income and expenditure he had to raise that £20million. Without it there would be no money to set up the innovation fund, and some other new schemes.  By implication the Treasury Minister must be expecting the return on that fund to be somewhat more than the 9% dividend the prefs pay us. Experienced business angels can achieve returns in the order of 20%, but even so a third of their investments crash valueless.
One other observation about the sale of those preference shares. The special and non tradable nature of the pref shares and the States relationship  to JT over them would complicate any possibility for JT  taking on other investors. This arrangement now means the States only hold ordinary shares in JT.  In three years time the Treasury will need to raise some cash again.  Now it is not a monopoly local provider and with all the money pumped into Gigabit, and the nicely segued net £10 million on the books, a ready fattened JT will be an obvious privatisation  prospect. It might even happen sooner if we do go ahead with a new hospital.

What confuses and disappoints me is that the issue of the purchase of Plémont attracts so much comment , despite not being an economic proposition, when the redemption of the JT shares, and the arguable loss of £10 million to the tax payer attracts so little comment.  The value on Plémont is not directly economic, it is for the ecology, the space and  future generations. As with the JT shares valuation, the price of the deal is what is the issue, but that is a different matter from the value.  In granting planning permission, the Environment Minister has considerably shifted the valuation in the perspective of the sellers, and probably in the view of any independent valuer who might assess it.
Like the JT shares redemption, buying Plémont is  a one off deal.  Unlike the JT share deal it does not carry a £1.8 million a year loss of income - the maintenance once cleared is minimal.  If the land is retained in ownership of the States, albeit perhaps on loan or managed by the National Trust for Jersey, it is an asset on the books.  Contrast that with the JT shares which is actually a reduction of assets.

Finally, if the economic outlook really is a bad as the indicators I mentioned at the outset suggest, that development at Plémont is a very high risk.  The very people who might be able and interested in buying those properties are the ones at the front line of the economic decline that is heading our way. You need no such wealth or high pay to appreciate or partake of open public space. At a MTFP consultation I asked the Treasury Minister what was plan B if in the three years of the plan something  happened to throw the estimates and assumptions off.  His response was that we would not do austerity, he would look to create economic stimulus, borrowing  if necessary.  Clearly if we can contemplate borrowing to spend we can certainly afford to buy a one off asset.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

What is the point of Government?

"Parliament has to stand on the side of the powerless. Whitehall mandarins, judges, BBC managers, council bureaucrats and professionals all have their own interests and a desire to hide mistakes. Parliament needs to balance the scales on the side of the weak—those without wealth who are crying out and not being heard."

John Hemming M.P. in House of Commons yesterday. 

Anyone going to argue with that?

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Jersey's coming 30 year war: what we didn't learn from the child abuse debacle and cover up in North Wales.

Given the two choices that were available to CM Gorst to recommend  to the States today, he took the clearly better option of the Verita way over the Williamson way. Many will doubtless be relieved about that.  However it is only his recommendation, and the debate on January 15th could yet see the Terms of Reference and composition amended.  (see  statesassembly.P.118-2012.pdf )

As drafted the ToRs probably are sufficient to deal with the immediate abuse of children in care and foster homes and the actions of those directly responsible.  They should enable those whose cases were dropped or never came to light to make their case publicly and be heard.

However the Terms of Reference appear  to exclude systemic possibilities. Do abused children not in the care system eg Sea Scouts and Victoria College come under its remit?.  If not, how shall we know if the same names and  common institutions recur and could be linked.   Similarly there is no mention of the judiciary or crown officers or former States members and their roles. How would the committee know if there were a common theme or failure in these institutions?  Another area that may not be covered, certainly needs clarification, is abuse whilst in care but not occurring at the care premises, or committed by people outside the care system.

The consequences of getting those ToRs wrong are immense.  If you have read the papers recently you should be aware there is a serious problem brewing for the UK government arising from events in North Wales and particularly around the investigation of child abuse centred at Bryn Estyn care home.  Abuse that had happened in the seventies  and eighties was investigated and resulted in the Waterhouse Inquiry in 2000.  However recent revelations have shown just how flawed that original investigation report was, having omitted evidence that pointed to the active involvement of very well placed people, including it is alleged, a cabinet minister.

These quotes from the BBC  are telling.
Richard Scorer, a solicitor with Pannone and Partners, who represented 30 victims at the Waterhouse inquiry: "The terms of reference were an important restriction. It's also fair to say at that time, and we're going back to the mid to late 1990s here, at that time the idea that senior public figures; politicians; celebrities could be involved in child abuse was seen as a bit far-fetched"  "We now know of course from recent revelations that it isn't far-fetched at all - and that's part of the reason why it's important that these allegations are looked at again".

Getting the terms of reference right and being prepared to believe the victims and the testimony of children rather than preconceived prejudices and covering up for friends  are critical in getting to the truth.  Twelve years on two new investigations have been ordered by the Prime Minister into what seems certain to have been a high level widespread cover up. 

There are parallels between what happened in North Wales and here in Jersey.  Clearly the investigation there missed out important suspects.  Here in Jersey  Rectangle was closed down prematurely after suspending the Police Chief Officer. As in Wales, at least one cabinet equivalent (now dead) local politician has been linked to the abuse.  We also know that  , as in Wales, others of official rank and position must have colluded or turned a blind eye to the original event for them to go on so long.    With such parallels we are forced to face the obvious question: did Jersey undergo a similar large scale high level cover up as appears must have happened in North Wales?

If our Committee of Inquiry terms of reference are not wide enough to ask the questions that would have revealed the sort of detail that is only now, 30 years on, coming to public light about who was really involved in the child abuse in North Wales, then it it dubious it is fully fit for the purpose here.  It took the North Wales campaigners thirty years to get the unthinkable truth into the public eye.  Can Jersey face another couple of decades of campaigning should it fail to fully grasp the nettle on January 15th?

Sunday, 21 October 2012

A workable compromise?

I have just read that the Electoral Commission are to release an interim report at 10:00 am tomorrow, Monday 22nd.  There is of course some speculation about its contents.  Most expect it to retain the constables, and probably restore the number of senators back to 12.

Regardless of my personal preferences, I have pondered what sort of compromise might be possible that would produce meaningful change, but preserve as much of the current system as is practical.  In essence I am considering what might be a workable rather than desirable.

The big tension is between those who would have a single class of member, compatible with the various human rights conventions that apply as to the comparability of constituency sizes, equality of representation etc, and those who would preserve much of the current system. I cannot see how these obligations can be met by having multiple  types of full assembly member based on different constituencies. In fact it is hard to see how they can be met even using parish boundaries as the populations of parishes vary so much,except perhaps having constituencies the size of St Mary, each wholly within a parish.  That would mean 1600 population each, requiring an assembly of 60 to represent 96,000 population.  I am of course assuming the parish boundaries are not to be redefined by the Electoral Commission!  Any system that moves away from parish based representation is going to be perceived as undermining or diminishing the parish system . I do not believe the population will accept that, and I am sure the Electoral Commission will seek to avoid proposing anything that looks like that.
If the principal concern for those who would retain the constables in the States is that the parish system be not undermined or diminished, and we cannot have parish boundaries with equal representation, then the Electoral Commission needs to have a specific and ideally unique and central role for the heads of the  parishes to reinforce that parish role while permitting other changes to happen.

As it happens we already have non-members of the States participating in the wider machinery of government , as required by the composition of the Public Accounts Committee, part of scrutiny.  Using this as a precedent, it is possible to derive a partial solution that might be tolerable.  The pragmatic issue here is that the connetables would not be full States member, but would have rights and responsibilities in the States assembly and wider machinery of government:

Connetables to chair scrutiny panels and committees and be responsible for running scrutiny.  This single change would ensure parishes would be able to challenge and propose amendments to any proposals  coming from the assembly. It also creates a mechanism for parishes to produce reports to the assembly on matters of concern to them.

Connetables to have right of audience in the assembly. Simply they can speak up on matters of importance, especially as it affects their parish.

Connetables cannot vote in the assembly.

Connetables able to bring propositions and amendments to the States, but only as directed by a parish assembly.  This means the mechanism of the requete is still in place.

Connetables would not be eligible to be ministers  or  assistant ministers.  This is both a practical move for avoiding the conflict of being parish head, and minister , but also logically follows from being expected to take active part in scrutiny.

Constable not permitted to stand separately as a States member.  That would  undermine the separation of roles this compromise tries to bring about.

Ideal it most certainly is not.  It is a sort of substitute for having a second chamber, but avoids the questions that inevitably arise in that situation of supremacy and who has the superior democratic mandate.  Also it does not address the other changes that may be made such as super constituencies, all island senators,etc.  However I see the position of connetables as the major issue that has to be resolved. Without agreement on dealing with the constables, no proposition is likely to make progress.  We will be back to the same errors as implementing Clothier

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Taking liberties on the buses

With the bus strike now over I want to raise a couple of issues regarding buses that may otherwise have been lost in the strike debate.

On the 11th October, it was reported that CCTV surveillance cameras will be introduced  on the new buses at the behest of the States of Jersey.   See

I am not aware there has been a spate of on bus crime to prompt this.  More worryingly there appears, that I am aware, no debate on the implications of this move.  Perhaps the States think it only affects the poor and a few idealist environmentalists who actually use the buses, and they are not worthy of having their civil liberties considered?

So what is the rationale for this move?  Who is viewing the tapes, and how are they and the tapes managed? How long are they kept, and who has access to them?  Has our ever vigilant Data Protection Registrar anything to say on the implications of this when individuals are identifiable?

My second point arises from a recent visit to Les Quennevais school. It seems the school buses leave ten minutes after the end of the normal school day.  What's wrong with that?  At secondary school there are numerous very beneficial after school activities in which students are encouraged to participate.  How do those dependent on the buses do that if the buses leave immediately after standard hours? It seems to me if the buses left at say quarter past four everyone would have some opportunity to partake of the out of hours activities.  Even if students did not want to take up the activities, they could use the extra time to use the computer facilities and library to  do their homework.  A benefit surely to those who don't have access at home.  It seems to me to be a generally  better option for almost all, so why not change the afternoon school bus times?

Monday, 8 October 2012

Jersey in Transition October

Following on from the Transition Conference, and the last General Meeting where we discussed it all, this month marks the first steps of a local REconomy initiative. This will be a new group within JiT centred around people who want to start, or have started, a local business with a Transition ethos to it. This could be self-employment, a partnership, or a co-operative. It should be low on imports, low on crude oil and its products, and provide good honest products or services in exchange for good honest money. How many people in Jersey are either unemployed or stuck in a job that does nothing either for the greater good of the Island, or for their self-respect? How many people in JiT are either thinking of it, or already have a sustainable business running? Come along on Monday the 22nd so we can see who's interested, and build on this exciting vision for a rich and sustainable local economy.

  • Meditation Flash Mob. Tuesday 9 October 6.00 - 6.40 pm, Liberation Square, St Helier. 30 minutes of silent meditation followed by 10 minutes of sound bath - please bring your voices, your mantras, singing bowls, chimes, bring a candle, bring your cushion or stall for sitting meditation. Bring Everyone! Let us come together as One Community... as ONE... This is an event open to everyone, all ages, from every path, experienced in meditation or not.
  • J-CAN Monthly Meeting. Tuesday 9 October, 8.00 pm, The Town House, New St, St Helier. The Jersey Climate Action Network have moved their monthly meetings back into town for the winter. Their agenda is attached.
  • Upcycling. Thursday 11 October, 7.00 - 8.30 pm, Upstairs at the Harbour Gallery, St Aubin. Sewing machines and magic with Kirsten. If you want to take part, please contact Kirsten either via Facebook or by e-mail at
  • Free hugs. Saturday 13 October, 10.30 am - 1.30 pm, King St, St Helier. Come and help spread some love and kindness in town. For every hug you give, you get one free! It's fun and worthwhile once you break the ice, and we really know how to break ice.
  • Cider making. Saturday 13 October, 2.30 pm starting at Hampton Villa, La Rue du Douet de Rue, St Lawrence in the orchard, and moving on to La Robeline, St. Ouen, where the cider is actually produced. Jersey Organic Association member Sarah Matlock has kindly agreed to show JOA supporters and friends how organic cider is produced, and has kindly extended this invitation to include supporters of Jersey in Transition. Sarah and her husband Richard will talk us through the production process, and there will also be an opportunity to sample the product for those so inclined. We are advised that Morris dancers will hopefully also be there to add to the atmosphere.
    Parking is limited at both Hampton Villa and La Robeline, and you are therefore asked to share cars if possible. Directions for Hampton Villa: From Carrefour Selous, take La Rue Sara (the road that runs between the front of David Hick Antiques/Laura Ashley shop on the left and the Carrefour Selous Health/Fitness club on the right) then take the left/immediate right (in other words, go straight on) into La Rue du Douet de Rue.  Hampton Villa is on the right hand side about 1/4 mile down the road.
  • JiT General Meeting. Thursday 18 October, 7.30 - 9.30 pm, "The Board Room", The Town House, New St, St Helier. Hear the latest news from all the JiT groups, and help to make the plans that steer JiT into the future. All welcome. 
  • Green Drinks. Friday 19 October, 7.30 - 9.00 pm, The Town House, New St, St Helier. The informal, kick-back time when we can relax and chat together over a drink. Ask questions, have ideas, make friends, laugh.
  • REconomy inaugural meeting. Monday 22 October, 7.30 - 9.00 pm, St Brelade's Youth Project, Communicare, Quennevais Rd, St Brelade. There will be a plan in place in time for this evening, I'm just not sure what it is yet. I'm talking (and listening!) to people in the meantime about the details. Please come along if you are interested in the proposal in general. I hope that this, alongside everything else we already do, can rejuvenate the interest of lots of people, and should bring in many of those who have been hovering around the edges of JiT for some time, interested but not sure whether to get more fully involved. If that describes you a bit, we'd really love to see you there, and hear your thoughts.
  • JiT Film Night. Saturday 27 October, 7.30 - 9.00 pm, St Brelade's Youth Project, Communicare, Quennevais Rd, St Brelade. The last Fishermen ‎"You're going to lose all the knowledge that's been handed down, and that you'll never get back... When it's too late, people'll think, 'Oh! We should've helped them', but it's too bloody late then" (5 mins). Followed by Future Permaculture in Britain, a BBC Natural World documentary from 2009. With her father close to retirement, Rebecca returns to her family's wildlife-friendly farm in Devon, to become the next generation to farm the land. But last year's high fuel prices were a wake-up call for Rebecca. Realising that all food production in the UK is completely dependent on abundant cheap fossil fuel, particularly oil, she sets out to discover just how secure this oil supply is. Alarmed by the answers, she explores ways of farming without using fossil fuel. With the help of pioneering farmers and growers, Rebecca learns that it is actually nature that holds the key to farming in a low-energy future. (48 mins).

Thursday, 4 October 2012

The crumbling facade of trusted institutions

The last day or two have seen something like a tsunami beginning to build. The previously formidable apparently untouchable great institutions of the land are showing their dilapidated moral fibre under the crumbling trustable facade that has been presented to the public for so long.

Here is just a brief list:

The UK civil service bungling £40 million of a railway contract, that  now has to be revisited.

The BBC who covered up what they knew of the unacceptable and illegal behaviour of a star performer.

The Attorney General in the Isle of Man facing charges of acting against public justice!!

A magistrate in Jersey in court today for sentencing for fraud.

A chief inspector in Jersey  suspended today.

If you want to know why the public have lost faith, why turnouts decline election by election, why trust has evaporated, read the list and weep. Just imagine if the AG here were acting against the public interest he would have to determine whether to prosecute himself, or perhaps decide it really wasn't in the public interest to do so. And that decision not challengeable!

It may be simply coincidence of course.  Perhaps though it is symptomatic of an altogether seismic change.  No longer does a coterie of  well connected key people at the top of a handful of  central organisations have total command of the situation. No longer can that clique rely on the others in their circle to think and behave as the club would expect.  We have enquiring minds in the public with skills to test the consistency and coherency of the evidence and action, coupled with the means to rapidly communicate that to a wide public.  That fact must be dawning on the minds of those who inhabit the rarefied heights of those institutions, surely?

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Public and private personas.

I would not usually do things this way round, but I am going to cite a couple of references before I start. I hope people will note them, particularly  the first, from The Lawyer 2008, that substantiates a point that some people have challenged me on in the last couple of days.

It will have come as no surprise to those who followed events concerning  children in care in Jersey , and particularly Haut de la Garenne, that  Jimmy Savile has both been previously investigated (in 2007), and has now had accusers publicly supported by Esther Rantzen , somewhat backed up by Paul Gambaccini. Nor will it be any great surprise to those who follow such things that it has taken decades for the facts to dribble out, and for those who  knew or suspected, colluded as Ms Rantzen puts it, to come clean.

There will be those who dismiss the repeated accusations simply because they cannot believe that someone can be such a public figure and do a huge amount of charitable good work and simultaneously do such evil things.  To do so fails to recognise an important point.  The public persona is a construct; it may well not be the same as the private persona.  This is obvious for actors, but it often holds for politicians and entertainers, even sometimes writers.   It is one reason why in many of those professions the given name and the performance name differ.

I know barely any professional entertainers or actors personally, but I do know a fair few politicians both local and further afield.   There are those with whom I vehemently disagree politically, but like and trust personally.  There are yet others who are of a similar political persuasion to me, but with whom  I find it almost impossible to work.  Over years I have come to the conclusion that frequently the important distinguishing factor between the 2 groups is  congruity.  People whose actions and views are 'in synch', unless they are fundamentally abhorrent, are easier to  deal with than people who give a compatible impression, but whose actions are at odds to their position.

Unfortunately you generally have to be close to someone for sometime to know if they are really congruent.  The trap it is all to easy to fall into with public figures to assume you know them and therefore that their action are congruent.  In truth you only know the public persona.  Oftentimes a similar error occurs with people in a position of authority.  If they are in such a position it is taken because we know something of the position we know something of the person.   Why is this important?  Because given one voice against another, unless you are aware and conscious of such biases, it is likely you will trust or believe the famous person over the unknown; the holder of office over that ordinary person, the adult over the child.  It is one reason why, unless guarded against, the voice of children does not get heard.  And that is one reason why abuse can get to persist and go unreported and unchecked for so long.

There is another strand to this too.  It is what Margaret Thatcher summed up neatly when someone was nominated to her circle:  “Is he one of us?”  People are more likely to believe those who they perceive are more like themselves.  It is another source of bias.  It is also only a short step from there to groupthink: the  psychological condition that occurs within groups, in which the desire for harmony in  decision-making overrides a realistic appraisal of alternatives.  Nothing better describes a bias.  It also goes someway to understanding how individual group members can go decades knowing or deeply suspecting something is wrong, yet not acting on that.  It is not an excuse, it is not a good reason for not acting or speaking clearly, especially when you know you will have the ear of the media or key decision makers, like Gambaccini above.

This piece is not about whether Jimmy Savile did obtain an injunction against the Sun about involvement at Haut de la Garenne.  Having engaged lawyers and initiated  action, both the publicity loving Sun and Mr Savile go silent.   There is one overriding likely reason for that.  Nor is it about whether Jimmy Savile did or maybe did not visit Haut de la Garenne, though there is a pretty convincing photograph still on the web, and of course dozens of children there at the time who could inform that view.

The real point of this piece is to learn some lessons and see some parallels.Having a high profile and reputations for public good works is not a guarantee or safeguard against atrocious personal actions. Ask yourself  what you really know about the personas of the people involved in the child abuse debacle in Jersey.  How much of what happened and did not happen in the past was shaped or determined by what people thought they knew about others rather than what they actually knew of the private person and the facts?  How will we ever get to the truth of this and learn the lessons unless we get under those public facades and what we think we know and get to the hard facts and the real personalities and motives of the participants. What the recent public 'revelations' regarding  Jimmy Savile means for us now is a proper, full open Committee of Inquiry.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Committee of Inquiry

The reports by Verita and Williamson on the setting up and terms of reference of the  Committee of Enquiry are out.  Both Channel TV and Rico have been hot of the blocks after the embargo date to publish about it.  See  and

It is worth reading Mr Williamson's piece carefully.  It is also worth reflecting on the title that Channel TV put on their piece. For while it certainly is true that the JCLA and other have been forthright in seeking a Committee of Inquiry, it was not for what Mr Williamson and the CITV headline suggest. Yes, of course, many victims and survivors want to know and have recognised what happened to them, may need that if they are to be able to think of moving on.  That is particularly so for those whose cases the police wanted to prosecute but the Attorney General decided to drop. Their voices and cases have still not been heard nor their plight recognised. But there is also a wider public need.

Mr Williamson's note highlights recent changes and improvements that have been made relating to children services. The rationale being the CoI would not need to go over what has been improved. It is true there have been changes and no doubt a deal of modern best practice thinking from the UK and elsewhere has been incorporated. But there is a logical problem here. Jersey has many individual and peculiar features in its structures and organisation. I need only mention centeniers rights to charge, the AG's incontestable right to drop prosecutions, and the system of Jurats to try facts in cases.  It follows therefore that what might be best practice and sufficient safeguards elsewhere on the assumption of modern services and 21st century institutions may not graft well onto our historical and peculiar system.

We have to get to the facts of what happened, which services and systems and  post holders and individuals failed in their duty of care and why, if the public is to have confidence those changes do in fact safeguard against repetition of disastrous mal treatment of children in States care.   It is  not just the children's services, as Mr Williamson repeats in his note, to be considered here.  What about the police who failed to act on repeated attempts of people to run away, what of the health system that failed to note children with injuries to give two examples of other services.

I do not believe the recommendations from Mr Williamson will deliver the sort of CoI I have outlined above.  His proposals will more likely lead to a narrow look at just the Children's Service historically (note the capitalisation in his report).  If the issues and key problems lay elsewhere they will not come to light.  The other separate review he proposes to look at the prosecution decisions would be behind closed doors looking only at evidence available at the time. It will not shed any light on subsequent issues that might have arisen from that eg the multiple suspensions of Graham Power.

Yesterday Mr Gorst was clear he is in favour of holding a Committee of Inquiry. He has not ruled out simply following the Verita report  recommendations.  Now he has a choice. Take the Williamson route and get some specific answers to a narrow slice of the issues, but risk leaving the poison in the system. Or,  go with Verita's approach with wide enough terms of reference to get to the whole truth and maybe finally get to lance the boil and start ridding the body politic of venom.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Jersey scandal has national implications

Diligence and persistence by a UK MP reveals that 5 children were sent into care in Jersey from Birmingham. Four have been traced, but one remains unknown. Importantly other authorities are also implicated, though some have refused to even check the facts! See MP-report-reveals.html

 It is impossible not to juxtapose charred remains, unexplained pits and now proven at least one missing person. It is not conclusive, but the weight of evidence shifted towards  the most chilling of conclusions. Even if death did not occur, and we really dont know one way or the other with confidence, it is clear that something wrong was happening on a very large scale. 

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

London, Jersey, gets a kicking.

Also an interview with Leah McGrath Goodman at 12 minutes and 50 seconds.

There are a few inaccuracies, but it is  clear to see how the outside world sees the Island, and people out there are taking notice.

Ms Goodman has a blog at

Monday, 10 September 2012

Democracy and Trust

We have known for some time there is a deep flaw in our politics in Jersey. Turnouts on our main election day get to 40 odd percent of those registered, but many do not register. Including the non registered the 'abstention' rate is over 70%. Across Europe turnout rates have been in decline for some time. In this talk Bulgarian political theorist Ivan Krastev asks pertinent questions and offers some acute observations, though he avoids prescribing answers.

 I rather think a number of his key points are relevant to Jersey. While democracy is the only game in town, it is now one that increasingly people see as not worth playing. The abstention rate is highest among those who have most to gain by voting. It is an issue of trust: 89% of Europeans believe there is a growing gap between the opinions of politicians and those of the people. They have realised they can change governments, but cannot change policies! Until the 1970's increasing democracy was accompanied by increased equality: that has now reversed. We no longer have debate of policy and ideas - political campaigning is focused on manipulation of emotions. Politics is now about the management of mistrust. There's much more - see the video piece:

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Why I have not made a submission to the electoral commission

I have been mulling making a submission to the electoral commission.  Thirty years ago I was very active in the campaign for fair votes in the  UK , and I have maintained an interest in electoral and representative systems ever since.  Of course I could just write in with my own personal  thoughts on what my ideal system would look like, but I do not think that is really the point here. I could equally write about the solution I think would make some meaningful and effective changes, without moving too far from the current system - a solution that might gain a degree of support. But the more I have thought of it, the more I have come to the conclusion that my difficulty in  formulating a submission is rooted in the flawed nature of the commission and its remit,and the expectation of what it can deliver.

An independent electoral commission was proposed by the then deputy for St Mary because the States had shown itself repeatedly to be incapable of making meaningful reforms of any consequence on its own account.  In rejecting proper independence and making half the members of the commission States members, that commission risks sinking straight back into that mire.  Its outcome will have to go to be debated by the States before possibly going to a referendum, thereby ensuring the body that caused the problem yet again has the opportunity to fully mess it up. 

Related to that last point, and one that caused me initially to be unable to formulate a submission, is the lack of formalised criteria for success of the commissions work.  There is, I think, an implicit one that it has to be acceptable to the States.  That at least was a key reason for the  States decision to remove the proper independence of the commission. How should I know if my submssion should be my personal preference, or a pragmatic proposal to make useful advance, if there are no criteria or fundamental principles to apply?  The Reform Jersey campaign have done well here in laying out the key  principles that  they believe are required, based broadly on a theme of fair and equal votes and representation for all. 

Having read some of the previous States debates, there will surely be a section in the assembly pressing for 'efficiency' and 'effectiveness' as the guiding criteria.  Clearly the most efficient and effective govenrment system is one where there is no discussion or dissent.  I prefer a diversity of views, rational debate and open discussion.  Yes, there is a price to pay, but this is the model by which science has advanced, opens the possibility of better quality decisions and policies for having been well examined and scrutinised from a variety of  perspectives and criteria.  I shall return to the issue of scrutiny later.

One of the disappointing aspect for me is how little the principles of subsidiarity and accountability have surfaced in the debate so far.  These would come some way above efficiency and effectiveness in importance for me and they also complicate the thinking behind that other guiding principle behind the Reform Jersey group.   Looking at equality of representation of fairness of votes the obvious conclusion is that something has to be done about the connétables.  Subsidiarity would have power exercised at the lowest level possible.  In Jersey that means the parish, headed of course by the connetable. When we look at accountability, the only States members that actually have to face their electorate fairly regularly and can be questioned by their electors about their States activity are the connetables. In fact any 4 electors of a parish can lay a requête to have a parish meeting to discuss a matter and if so desired instruct the connetable accordingly.  It is true such mechanisms are seldom used in that manner, but it is a useful part of the democratic armoury.  Of course it is not necessary to have  the connetables in the States to have these facilities.  What I would argue is that it would be desirable  if all States members could be similarly accountable.  It is workable in single member constituencies, such as we currently have for connétables, but it is unclear how this might be implemented in multimember constituencies.

The issue of constituency size and nature has arisen and needs some comment. Clearly with their disparate number of electors, it is not possible to have equality of representation, and the same number of votes per elector, if constituencies are based on single parishes.The options therefore are to have parishes combined into superconstituencies, to have a single island wide constituency, or, seldom discussed, have constituencies smaller than a parish.

Senators currently are elected on an all island vote - a single constituency. Some advantages are apparent. People are only elected on some widespread support for their  policies (in theory at least), and there is no issue of fudging constituency boundaries for electoral advantage. There are concerns too.  Most importantly we do not use a proportional election system, so that minority support can be sufficient to get people elected, and those elected are more likely to be of a single political view rather than a diversity. Superconstituencies have the same concern regarding a proportional voting system.  There is also a problem of senatorial  hustings in that speeches are so short and questions so few that issues cannot be debated or a whole island programme spelled out.  Many commentators have ruled  out  a single island constituency as impractical from the view of hustings. However as the organisation of  hustings is  properly the concern of the candidates, and not part of the election law (except perhaps as relates to expenses), this isn't a valid objection to an all island remit.

A related issue to constituency size is that of the size of the assembly.   As alluded to above re senators, there is an aspect here that concerns itself with pragmatic  mechanics, rather than any higher principles. Reducing the numbers saves some money and may lead to faster decision making.  But it also reduces the diversity of opinion that can be represented, and if the reduction is more than a handful would lead a set where more were in government as ministers and assistant minister than are outside. It is a perfectly good argument on representation grounds that as the population has grown the number of representatives should also have grown to enable better access, giving a wider choice of members for the assembly and to select as ministers. Again without any guiding principles or aims to the commission's work, we have no means to determine what options here are appropriate.

Unfortunately the States split the considration of the mechanics of government (ministers scrutiny etc) so that is being handled through PPC. Scrutiny is a critical role. In a party system it arises by opposition, and someone effective in scrutiny in opposition could find themselves a minister if their party attained power. In a non party system, taking an effective scrutiny role is more likely to result in no future ministerial role.  Jersey's current set up does not encourage robust scrutiny.  Given the interaction between factors being dealt with by the two bodies this seems to me to have been a daft decision.  Perhaps it is fitting - a testament to the  historical ability of the States to make concurrently inconsistent and self contradictory decisions.

In truth, even if the commission were to come up with some wide ranging changes that met the concerns of Reform Jersey and were not butchered by the States, and were approved in a referendum, would anything substantive change?  Would we still not have policies like the energy white paper, 6 years in the  waiting and still not delivered? Would we still not have the  situation like the town park, over ten years between agreeing and actually doing anything about it?  Would we end the prevarication and watering down of the terms of reference of the committee of inquiry into child abuse? Would Jersey be prepared to make the changes in society necessary to tackle climate change, and prepare for the consequence of a world without cheap fossil fuels? I doubt it because these things are not so much dependent on the structure or representation in the assembly. It has already voted for them in some measure, what they fear to do is implement them.  No amount of structural tinkering will fill that political leadership vacuum. What is needed just as much is a change in mindset.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

A staff pick

The staff at, who host Jersey Today have pages for registered users to search for other pages, mark favourites etc.  Today I noticed my paper is on the staff pick list! It seems we are getting noticed...

Saturday, 11 August 2012

JiT in August

    Sunday 12 August 3.00 - 5.00 pm: Walk and Talk -  La Source, Le Mont Vibert, St Ouen. (almost in St Mary!) Mark has agreed to show us around his plot again this year. He has many years' experience of sustainable growing for his family and a wealth of experience, tips and ideas to share. 

    Tuesday 14 August 6.00 pm: Meditation Flashmob - Liberation Square, St Helier. (when the weather is really really bad - raining - we are going to have the Med Flash Mob at the Jersey Public Library, Halkett Place). Thirty minutes of silent meditation followed by 10 minutes of sound bath - please bring your voices, your mantras, singing bowls, chimes... bring a candle... bring your own cushion or stall for sitting meditation. Bring Everyone! Let us come together as One Community... as ONE... This is an event open to everyone, all ages, from every path, experienced or not. 

    Thursday 16 August 7.30 pm: Green drinks - The Townhouse, New St, St Helier. Informal chats over a drink or two. 

     Tuesday 21 August 7.30 pm: General meeting - "The Boardroom", The Townhouse, New St, St Helier. Decisions, decisions, decisions... How does JiT actually work?

    Saturday 25 August 7.30 pm: Film night - Double bill! St Brelade's Youth project, Communicare, Quennevais Rd, St Brelade. The sky is pink (18 mins), a short film from Josh Fox, the Oscar-nominated director of GASLAND about the games big-oil plays with our view of reality. With Patent for a Pig (43 mins) about the games Monsanto plays with our genetic material. These are a pair of 'spine-chillers' about the kind of problems we all face today and so the reasons why we need Transition right here and now.,-2.1865&z=15 

    Tuesday 28 August 7.30 pm: Brewing and Fermenting Inaugural Meeting - The Post Horn, Hue St, St Helier. Rolling our own barley? Doing our own malting? Growing and sharing local organic ingredients? Tips? Know-how? What do people want from a JiT beer and winemaking group? If you already brew or ferment your own, or if you'd like to start, please come along and see what we can make of this.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Is ESC falling off a cliff?

It looks to me as though the Education, Sport and Culture ministry is accelerating toward a cliff edge.  I have already noted in previous posts the odd and rather unsatifactory handling of the announcement of the introduction of  user pays charges for the Instrument service.  Recently letters went out to parents and guardians of students to be offered a place next year.  Having cancelled the explanatory meeting, and not advised of any revised date we now have a wholly unacceptable position.  Parents are now being expected to make decisions on whether to accept an offer but having no information on the charges the department proposes to make on the use of the service. But this little episode is just a taster of things to come.

You may be aware that the Treasury Minister is about to launch his 3 year medium term financial plan, to cover the next three years.  I think that is probably a good idea, though I may well not agree with its contents.  It was therefore a great surprise to me that the Education Minister recently gave a four year commitment to protect the grant to fee paying schools.  Whatever you may think of that particular policy it was a pretty strange thing to do ahead to the MTFP.  I did query this on Twitter with the Treasury Minister who replied it was because  'the four years are 2012 to 2015. In other words this year and for next 3'.

That answer raises further reinforces a problem that I had already identified.  The next States elections are  due in Spring 2014, so how can the Education Minister give assurances beyond that? The States reiterate with depressing frequency that one assembly cannot make binding decisions on another , so it seems to me the minister has exceeded his authority in givng his 4 year commitment.

Shorter term there is a more politically  explosive problem looming.  The department is still expected to meet the cuts savings under CSR.  By far the largest part of the budget goes for education.  It is inevitable to meet CSR targets for the year that education will bear the brunt.  Having preemptively ring-fenced the private schools  subventions, the savings will have to fall on the remaining States schools. To put in bluntly the poorest parents in our society will have their children's education services disproportionately  impared in order to protect the service provided to those who can afford to pay some toward it.

Thanks to the electoral commission we can now see another problem occuring too. A couple of them are off to Barbados on Monday, expenses paid, albeit economy at £7,000.  It seems to me odd that we can afford to pay for this trip,  to find information that is largely already available at sites such as  However we do not have the money to support competitors going to Bermuda for the Island Games in 2013.  They clearly can only compete and represent us if they travel there. I think the claim of the poorer competitors rather more compelling than that of the Electoral Commission.  That's another legitimate claim on the already very squeezed pot.

Possibly the Education Minister is trying to finesse the Treasury Minister in his new plan to secure more funding. On the evidence of the way user charges have already been announced in principle, and the partisan decision making in favour of the already more priviledged makes me convinced this is a very cynical and deeply inegalitarian game of favourites being played by the minister.

Friday, 20 July 2012

With media like this, who needs facts?

Cheaper Living The cost of living is on the way down in Jersey. Those are the headline and sub of a piece on ChannelOnline. At least that's what they would like you to think.  I have copied the text below taken at 8:31 am as I expect it will magically quietly morph when their genius is unmasked.

 "Keen food prices have helped push down the current rate of inflation to 3% compared with 4.7% three months ago, but the effect of last year's hike in GST has now fallen out of the statistics and that is chiefly responsible for the fall. In the last 12 months food prices have risen by 2.5% - the lowest increase in two-and-a-half years. Motoring costs went up by 6% and alcoholic drinks rose by 5%."

 A gross failure. Inflation of 3% means price (cost of living) increases. Never let the facts get in the way of a good headline, eh? Seriously if our media can get such a basic thing totally wrong, what chance have we of them inquiring into or investigating in detail anything that requires thought and knowledge to be applied?

Saturday, 14 July 2012

BBC Interview with Stuart Syvret

Courtesy of the BBC I have an mp3 and permission to post so the usual week limit on iplayer can be overcome. This interview with Simon Jupp was given 29th June following the series of articles in the Guardian newspaper, particularly this secrecy culture

If the player does not show, try this link: Stuart Syvret BBC interview

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Music meeting update

Further to my posting yesterday
I see on twitter that the meeting has now been cancelled.  I cannot say that is related to my posting, because I simply do not know the reason for the canellation.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Who pays the piper?

A letter has been sent out from the Jersey Instumental Service. I believe it has gone to parents of pupils who currently use the service, but its contents are clearly of impact on future parents too.

 There is to be an 'information evening' on the 12th July at 7pm, Janvarin School. Giving just 3 to 4 days notice and only, as far as I know, to exisitng parents clearly limits the potential for interested parties to attend.

 The essence of the letter is that the States are expected to introduce charges for the service during the autumn term 2012. There is, of course, the usual soft soaping that goes along side such proposals. These include extending the range of instruments and ensembles, and significantly reduced charges for families on low income etc.

 Without numbers it is difficult to make detailed comment, but some observations do need to be made. It is not logically possible to state you may give significant reduction unless the amount you are intending charging as the standard is itself significant.

 Ensuring the financial future of the provision (of the service) is cited as the reason for the charges. However is seems to me extending the range of instuments, number of ensembles and improved support for schools as quoted in the letter is certain to increase costs. It is quite possible that the charges to be levied are actually paying for expansion and improvement of the service. The case will need to be shown with crystal clarity why the current offering would not be financial viable in the future.

There are deficiencies with the current system, not least the fact there seems to be insufficient opportunities to enable all who wouold wish to participate. Currently students do an aptitude test. Needless to say those who have had some previous musical education are at a great advantage. Would this be redressed by the new system?

 Inevitably if there are charges, there will be those on low incomes who will not be able to afford them and whose children therefore will be unable to take up an instrument, even if they do have some significant natural ability or aptitude.

 The most likely outcome of these proposals is that the poorest will be excluded while those who can afford it get a better service. A classic Jersey 'solution'.

 People who have concerns about the proposals are invited in the letter to contact the Head of Jersey Instrumental Music Service (Dr Graham Cox) on 832230.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Scrutiny and the Ogley pay off

This is the link to the Public Accounts scrutiny follow up on Ogley Pay off

Scrutiny Report Compromise Agreements

Note: The following findings are the overarching main findings from the Committee’s review. There are further findings within the report, however the Committee wishes to focus on the following and the recommendations which arise from these.

2.1 The decision to accept the amendments to the contract of the former Chief Executive
Officer was taken at a time when money was not subject to the restraints faced in 2012.
There had been no succession planning which had left the Island extremely vulnerable
and the post holder had become pivotal in the change to Ministerial Government which
left little choice given the desire to retain the officer’s services. The decision was nonethe-
less flawed. There had been no formal risk assessment or thorough investigation of
the options available between receipt of the request to revise the contract on 2nd March
2005 and the acceptance of the changes on 9th March 2005.

2.2 The change to the States of Jersey Law to have Chief Officers accountable to their
Ministers left a fracture in the lines of responsibility that continue to cause problems
today. When viewed alongside Ministers being ‘corporate sole’ and therefore not
responsible to the Chief Minister, the double fracture in the lines of responsibility create
confusion in the management structure at the highest level of the organisation.

2.3 Given that the decision makers may have been keen to retain the Chief Executive
Officer through the pinch point of the change to Ministerial Government, no time limit
was placed on the unusually generous agreement of 2.5 times salary. It appears that
this was simply not considered, leaving the huge cost to be met at any point the officer
might leave further down the line. This was unacceptable and expensive.

2.4 The result of the two breaks in the lines of responsibility of both the Chief Minister and
the Chief Executive Officer render them impotent. They are powerless and isolated.
Their duties can only be carried out with the good will of their “subordinates” and the
strength of character they can bring to bear.

2.5 In examining the termination of the former Chief Executive Officer’s employment, there
were many failures revealed.
· Performance management was woefully inadequate.
Compromise Agreements: Following up the investigations of the Comptroller and Auditor
· The fractured lines of responsibility allowed the Chief Minister of the day to do
nothing, despite his recognition of the problems brewing.
· The Code of Conduct for Ministers is deficient and offers no sanctions for
· There was no management intervention in the longstanding deterioration in the
relationship between the Minister for Treasury and Resources and the former
Chief Executive Officer.

2.6 It is the combination of these failures that left no option but to pay the £546,337.50 to
the departing officer.

2.7 There is no clear demarcation of boundaries between policy setting by States Members
and operational implementation by officials. Blurring these lines can lead to
destabilisation of relationships and derailment of operational matters rendering them

2.8 Despite the blurring of roles between the Minister for Treasury and Resources and the
former Chief Executive Officer, the real concern is that, even knowing about the
difficulties, the then Chief Minister took no action and in so doing allowed an already
pressurised relationship to deteriorate to such an extent that the former Chief Executive
Officer decided to invoke the terms of his revised contract.

2.9 Relating to other compromise agreements entered into by the States over the last five
years, the Committee noted that the private sector has no issues with compromise
agreements. They are used as a tool for many reasons and money spent is recouped
over the following period.

2.10 The existing Human Resources Department is not fit for purpose in order to meet
modern day Human Resources requirements for the public service.

2.11 There is a place for compromise agreements as a management tool when appropriate
but all the other management structures must be in place first. Every agreement should
be considered on its worth, based on good performance management records and
consideration of the options available. It is only by meeting those standards that there
can be any hope of convincing the public that value for money is being achieved.
Compromise Agreements: Following up the investigations of the Comptroller and Auditor

2.12 Looking at the way forward, the Committee notes the willingness that the current Chief
Minister shows in bringing forward changes to ensure these mistakes are not repeated
and looks forward to seeing the production of timelines for their introduction.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Jersey in Transition (JiT) events July

  • Thursday 5 July, 1.30 - 3.00 pm: Baking group. We make sourdough bread, banana bread, Irish bread, ciabatta, carrot cake, scones, etc. Potluck lunch usually included.
  • Saturday and Sunday 7 and 8 July, 10.00 am to 6.30 pm: The West Show, West Show Association Field, off La Grande Route de St Pierre, St. Peter. JiT and J-CAN are jointly producing a stand with an emphasis on organic growing and local, sustainable agriculture. In particular we shall be showcasing the wheat organically grown at Vermont Farm by JiT member John Hamon, stoneground using renewable water power at Quetevil Mill by a combination of JiT and National Trust for Jersey people, and baked into delicious wholemeal bread and cakes by the JiT baking group. There will be free samples to taste. Do come along and find our stand if you're there, and if you possibly can spare the time, please add your name to the rota linked below to help man the stand for an hour or so during the weekend too.
  • Monday 9 July 7.30 - 9.00 pm: Grow your own fruit and veg, Trinity Manor garden visit, Trinity Manor. Follow the directions to the steam museum from Queens Road. This is where group member Emma works and she says that the gardens are just looking their best right now. It is a private garden so please let us know if you want to attend as numbers will be limited to about 15.
  • Saturday 14 July 1.30 pm: Jersey Organic Association Summer Meal, . Along with the Slow Food Movement, Jersey in Transition have been invited to the JOA summer meal. Bring a dish to share, as well as your own crockery, cutlery, drink and glass. If wet, in a polytunnel. Meet the chicks and chickens, and see where some JiT Make-and-Mend goes on too. 
  • Thursday 19 July 7.30 pm: Green Drinks, The Townhouse, New St, St Helier. Simple and unstructured, but an opportunity for serendipity and a force for good. Join us for a drink and chat.
  • Saturday 21 July 6.30 - 10.00 pm: JiT Summer Celebration!!! The Cottage, behind Francis Cooke Gallery, Trinity Hill, Trinity. Summer picnic on private lawns. Ashika, the drumming band, will entertain from 7.00 to 8.00. Please bring food and drink to share, blankets etc to sit on, and your own picnic utensils. Alcohol is allowed. Unfortunately, there is no wet weather plan - so 'weather permitting'. This is the time to celebrate our achievements and our growing transition community in the island. Please do come along.
  • Tuesday 24 July, 7.30 pm: JiT General Meeting, "The Boardroom", The Townhouse, New St, St Helier. The monthly meeting where we pull everything together and see what it looks like. All welcome.
  • Saturday 28 July 7.30 pm: Film night: The Power of Community: How Cuba survived peak oil, St Brelade's Youth Club, Communicare, Quennevais Rd, St Brelade. This film tells of the hardships and struggles as well as the community and creativity of the Cuban people during their difficult time. Cubans share how they transitioned from a highly mechanized, industrial agricultural system to one using organic methods of farming and local, urban gardens.
Upcycling (sewing) at Harbour Gallery, St.Aubin,  will re-start in September

For details e-mail   or

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Generally good stuff, but wrong conclusion

 Another item that the Paper.Li tools would not handle

JEP 2012 06 27

Have we a new growth industry in sustainability?

Wednesday 27th June 2012, 2:56PM BST.

BLINK and it probably passed you by. But, for something billed as being so important for the long-term survival of the planet and all who roam over it, two formal days in Rio de Janeiro last week reviewing the progress of the 1992 Earth Summit could very well have seem a touch derisory.

To give it its full name, this was the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio +20, attended by delegates from 190 nations. Twenty years on, you could be forgiven a sigh of resignation that worthy predictability could be the only outcome.

The omens were, to put it mildly, unexciting. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had already labelled negotiations on global attempts at setting a balance between conservation and development, industry and nature as ‘painfully slow’, though he described the conference as ‘too important to fail’.

Coincidentally, and not a little ironically, just up the South American continental main road, world leaders were closeted in a Mexican holiday resort for a summit of the G20 richest nations with lashings of economic sticking plaster on a mission to patch up the crisis in the Eurozone and restore economic growth to the fragile world economy. In the world of keeping currencies afloat and massaging quick-spun reputations, the long-term focus on sustainability may have become just another can to kick further down the road to landfill.

Twenty years ago, the great and the good queued up to claim the green laurels at the Rio podium. This time, Barak, Dave and Angela were conspicuous by their absence. However, a quick glance at the statistics shows that concerns about the health and sustainability of the planet have, if anything, become more alarming.

In 1992, the world’s population stood at 5.5 billion; now it tops 7 billion. Then, summer sea-ice covered 7.5 million square miles; last year it had reduced to 4.5 million. The atmosphere contained 356 parts per million of carbon dioxide; now it’s risen to 396, and emissions are up 40%.

And while individuals may very well interpret the evidence to suit their own conclusions, it’s not unreasonable to question that if in 1992 the world was prepared to devote two solid weeks to negotiating binding commitments, its successor should now have come up so disappointingly short on tangible measures to address, food, water, energy, city growth or marine pollution, despite its grandiose banner of determining ‘the future we want’.

It’s not that sustainability has simply fallen off the agenda; we could just have witnessed a reality check. Two decades ago, the final communiqué contained 6,000 pages, which is a fair indication that every nation wanted to safeguard its own exploitation.

MAYBE we’re concentrating on the wrong approach. Regulation – that little engine beloved of ‘authorities’ in institutions large and small – has much to answer for. It pushes up the cost of compliance and acts as a mighty disincentive. Even basic low-tech innovation falls out of fashion and beyond budget.

Also, in the background lies another little indicator with a disproportionate influence on how we value progress and development. It’s called GDP: the measure of all we spend and produce – goods, services, batteries and farm produce. It’s the Holy Grail. When GDP goes up a percentage point, happiness breaks out; a percentage point down and economists panic.
Growth is an addiction, but what does it represent? Is there such a thing as having enough? Bigger isn’t always better. Maybe we should develop a better respect for limits. Any farmer will tell you that if you grab too much, it rots in your field the next morning.

Who says there’s no room for a more sophisticated balance sheet which awards more points to the health of a nation’s infrastructure – welfare, satisfaction and sustainability – than pure material growth? Furthermore, we could deduct the cost of pollution, crime or social disruption from the equation.

Rapid economic development has traditionally been regarded as the blueprint for economic advancement. There is definitely nothing wrong in wanting a more comfortable existence than the previous generation, with new trinkets and labour-saving devices. But after years of slash and burn, there are now huge concerns in some of the emerging BRIC countries that for too long they have been tearing out centuries of subsistence farming, lowering precious water tables all to build factories to supply rich overseas consumers.

Their new rich are becoming richer, but their poor are dispossessed and driven into greater poverty. Where will they be when the fragile agricultural base is totally destroyed and the promised quality of life cannot be delivered?

If there is one thing we have learned recently, it is that assumptions and certainties are no longer unshakeable. While the West may not be consuming significantly more stuff than ten years ago as a result of global recession, the ecological footfall of developing countries is rapidly advancing, with irreparable damage. We can claim to have become far cleverer in harnessing new technologies to produce and sustain more, but consumption remains the major threat to sustainability and food security.

Well, we have been here before, and curiously there is a pattern. Apocalyptic prophesies of planet destruction were made 20 plus 20 years further back, in 1972, by an influential group of scientists and environmentalists called the Club of Rome.

Then, as now, they cautioned against the rapacious squander of scarce irreplaceable food and energy sources and runaway population growth. But we are still here and some of the commodities we feared we would miss the most, we no longer use. It convinces some critics that we should simply concentrate on the art of the possible. Sounds to me like the beginning of a new growth industry.

Friday, 29 June 2012

A little technical difficulty

The tool that uses to include stories in the paper seems to have become as uncooperative as a teenager on a bad day.  So here is a link it would not let me upload 

questions without answers
Recorded bits of States question time

I shall be on a Prince course next week.  Nothing to do with Machiavellis book The Prince nor any putative ruler of an independent Principality of Jersey.  Just a tedious project managament certification.

It does mean howeever I may not be able to curate Jersey Today , and things may have to run on autopilot.

Friday, 8 June 2012

The States order paper for next week has been published, see OrderPaper

BNotices of lodged propositions include

Economic Growth and Diversification Strategy.
Lodged: 1st June 2012.
Council of Ministers.

Draft Income Support (Amendment No. 8) (Jersey) Regulations 201-.
Lodged: 1st June 2012.
Minister for Social Security.

Oral Questions include
  Deputy G.C.L. Baudains of St. Clement will ask the following question of the Minister for
Planning and Environment –
“Would the Minister update members on the genetically modified Jersey Royal potato

 Deputy T.M. Pitman of St. Helier will ask the following question of the Chief Minister –
“Will the Chief Minister clarify precisely what the perceived problems are with the terms of
reference for the historic abuse enquiry as proposed by Verita; would he state whether Mr.
Andrew Williamson has been engaged to review the terms of reference and, if so, what the cost
of his engagement is?”

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Health Consultation

Dates for public meetings about the white paper Caring for Each Other, Caring for Ourselves are out.
The first one is on Monday night!
Monday 11 June
Trinity Youth Centre (behind Trinity Parish Hall)
7:30 pm to 9 pm
Monday 25 June
Les Quennevais School
7:30 pm to 9 pm
Monday 16 July
12 pm to 1 pm and
7:30 pm to 9 pm
St Paul’s Centre

Thursday, 24 May 2012

many reasons for unrest and anger Mr Gorst


 It cannot have gone unnoticed to you that over the last few days it has become apparent (and confirmed) that you have called in Andrew Williamson to look at the Terms of Reference submitted to you by Verita in November last year. This has been done in what can only be seen as a sneaky and underhand way with no consultation at all with the interested parties who met with Ed Marsden last year.

 Now that a leaked report from Verita is in the public domain, we fail to see that there can be any issues with the recommendations contained therein unless of course they are seen to be too ‘robust’ for certain members of the Council of Ministers. As far as we are concerned it is a very fair report, and naturally if it is tampered with in any way, i.e. watered down, it will not be fit for purpose. If this Committee of Inquiry is not held with all Verita’s recommendations there will be little or no point in holding it. This report was based on wide ranging input to Mr Marsden from States Members present and past to Careleavers and ordinary members of the public with an interest in this matter.

 Will all these people be afforded the same input to Mr Williamson? We think not.

 Furthermore, the contempt you are showing yet again to the survivors of abuse beggars belief, when it is clear that had this whole scenario not been uncovered, they would have been kept in the dark as to what was happening. The dismissive attitude towards the survivors through all this affair has been a disgrace, and rather than bring them open and honest closure at this stage, attempts are still being made to try and thwart the CoI, or perhaps if the CoM had their way not proceed with it at all.

 Clearly any meeting which you promised with the JCLA before you lodged your proposition will not be very fruitful if your proposition is not be based on Verita’s report, a report which also shows a timescale for getting this all up and running long before now. Why the constant delays?

 Are you in a position to let us and the taxpayer know how much extra on top of the cost of Verita, bringing Mr Williamson into the equation will be, when it should be unnecessary?

 Perhaps you would kindly answer these questions in an honest and timely fashion, as they are of great concern to quite a number of people, which includes the general public also.

 In addition to the above, we would also like to clarify some points you made in the States Assembly last Tuesday 15th May in answer to a question to Deputy Shona Pitman regarding the involvement of Careleavers in the terms of the compensation scheme.

It seems you were given to understand that Careleavers had a lot of involvement and were quite happy with the scheme. On both counts – not so.

 There was very little involvement, and far from being happy it was almost a case of ‘take it or leave it’.

We were also given to understand that there would a year to call in claimants. In fact the length of time given has been 6 months.

 We were led to believe that advertisements for claimants would be made in the UK press. Again this did/has not happened.

We were told that the JCLA would be included on the list of places where claim forms and booklets could be picked up and help given explaining the procedure. The reasoning behind this was that most survivors will not go anywhere near a States building or related office, such is their mistrust of the States. However, when we pointed out that we were not included in the literature, we informed Richard Jouault and Judy Martin and they assured us that we would be added to the list of names that appeared in the JEP advert.

 Needless to say this did not happen either.

 It was also put to us in a meeting with Richard Jouault and Deputy Martin that rather than run in parallel with the compensation claims the Committee of Inquiry would be better taking place after the compensation issues were all finalised, a suggestion we dismissed out of hand. There is no reason why the two should not run along side each other, one being a civil claim against the States of Jersey and the other an Inquiry. If we take an example from Ireland, compensation claims, a Committee of Inquiry and criminal cases were all taking place together.

 It is interesting that several abuse claimants unbeknown to us as members have called to our offices on the off chance, just to see if we did have the relevant paper work because they did not wish to go elsewhere for the reasons above.

 Finally, why did you not see fit to correct the JEP when they named Verita’s report as the basis for the ToR, and also on one occasion (which we did ask Anne Pryke to rectify, but she didn’t) quoted ‘millions and millions’ of tax payers money to be paid in compensation, not good for the Island’s image. This appeared in the JEP before the compensation scheme had been announced and the claimants had no idea of the terms of the scheme. This was misleading to both the general public and abuse survivors as well.

 This should never have been allowed as we understand it whilst some may come from the taxpayer’s purse, there will subsequently be an insurance claim involved.

 Understandably - many reasons for unrest and anger Mr Gorst.

 Your swift response to all these questions would be appreciated and some indication as to what stage we are at right now.

 We are sending this letter to all States Members as well, as we would be interested to know how they feel about the issues raised, and apart from your response would appreciate some feedback from Members also. Some may say, as they have indeed, ‘just move on’, but moving on means for all concerned that past issues must be acknowledged and addressed. With all due respect many of the survivors have waited decades for the abuse they suffered in the ‘care’ of the States of Jersey to even be recognised.

 Finally, is it too much to ask that we have the promised Committee of Inquiry, in an open, honest and robust form, and as soon as possible to finally lay this matter to rest?

Then and only then, will moving on be made easier.

 Nothing less will suffice.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Down is up

The platform that hosts Jersey Today is down for maintenance today. You should still be able to read the latest paper as I managed to beat the deadline this monrning. However tomorrow's edition many not appear, or only in limited form. The platform changes sound good, including a facility to archive papers. Another improvement due is a facility for curators like me to be able to view contents before publishing. That may help me a lot as I'll be able to widen the filters knowing I'll have a chance to cull the irrelavant bits before it goes public.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Thank You - 1,000 up

I started this online newspaper as an experiment.  I had an idea and wanted to check out what already existed so I started playing with  As it happens my doings were spotted  and posted on another blog, so Jersey Today was born.

Now after roughly 20 days of being in the public eye we shall sometime on the 16th May pass the 1000 views. Lots of you have re-tweeted and liked on Facebook, so I figure I'm doing something right here.  And a big thank you for spreading the message.  It is still an experiment, and I have identified some very irritating limitations with  Equally it does a lot that would be a huge effort to do myself.

I am working on some additional  ideas.  This site for one to enable me to link to items like pdfs that does not handle at all well. It also gives you a chance to comment if you have constructive suggestions or valid criticisms.

The graphic below has active links within it. The headline Jersey Today should take you back to the paper. The section heading on the right will bring up the items under that heading into the left panel and you can scroll down using the slider in the middle if appropriate. Failing that click this link Jersey Today