Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Diversity and Discrimination

Back in March 2013, Deputy Montfort Tadier suggested that if there was a move to larger multimember constituents, then reserving seats for women in Jersey's next election may help overcome the gender bias in the States.

Now the same idea has surfaced again in the “States Assembly Gender Audit: Diversity Forum Report” presented by Deputy Louise Doublet with Deputy Jess Perchard, Deputy Kirsten Morel, Lucy Stephenson and Peter McLinton.

“Options discussed by the audit group include requiring there to be an equal number of male and female senators; permitting job sharing; and requiring gender balance in multi-member seats.”

This seems to be badly thought through, and I’ll explain why. Any political assembly which works by democratic voting has a trade off between equality of opportunity to stand, and the resulting imbalances in the composition of that assembly.

Now if you are taking a sample of the population, and you want it to be representative, you will take that sample and overlay on it the weightings for the makeup of the general population from the census. This can be by gender, by nationality, by ethnicity, by age range. The aim is to produce what is called a “stratified sample”, one which has been adjusted to reflect the makeup of the general population.

That’s fine for a sample, when you want to make it as representative of the makeup of the population as a whole, but it doesn’t work when you are looking at adjusting the results in a voting system. A democratic assembly should allow everyone an equal chance to stand, and an equal opportunity to get voted in, regardless of creed, colour or gender.

To impose a bias on a system such as gender simply begs the question: why that bias, and not others. If we look at ethnicity, 8.2% of the population in the 2011 census count as Portuguese and 3.3% as Polish. So we should have 1-2 Poles in the States, and 4 Portuguese members if we wanted to reflect the same diversity as we see in the general population.

The problem with forcing the makeup of the assembly to reflect a kind of diversity within the general population is that there is no firm case for prioritising one group over another. While the makeup of the States shows a gender imbalance, it also shows an imbalance with regard to ethnicity. 

And there are other ways of slicing the population map. As the report itself notes, Professor Sarah Childs, looking at the UK Parliament, suggests that “A greater diversity of MPs should be present in the House of Commons, not least in terms of class, disability, ethnicity, sex/gender, and sexuality.”

But diversity in itself is not a compelling justification for the use of structural preferences of this kind.

A lot of confusion stems from ideas of discrimination. Where someone is discriminated against standing because of various factors common to that sector of the population, there should be mechanisms to rectify this imbalance outside and before they stand, and after they stand, to ensure that the demands of being an elected member do not prove a burden. (On passing, I'd note that a wheelchair user might find considerable difficulty to access the States Chamber).

An older example is the payment of States members. Before that was introduced, the ability of anyone to stand for election was severely curtailed so that the makeup of the Chamber tended to come from those with sufficient independent means to stand. In that instance, positive discrimination came from remunerating members so that no one, however talented, could be disbarred from standing because of lack of financial means.

Another example from recent news also provides an illustration of positive discrimination. New mothers who work for Jersey States will get paid breastfeeding breaks, starting in September. The Social Security Minister wants all employers to provide facilities and time for breastfeeding or expressing milk. Now the same should be true of women in the States, should they also have young children. This is discriminating in such a way as to provide a fair and equitable playing field. It is removing obstacles from standing to the States and participating in the Assembly.

In this respect, it is a good suggestion of the report that “A room where priority is given for breastfeeding mothers should be made available in the States Building when it is next required.”

Another note by the report, although this is not strictly gender related (and I can say that as a single-parent who sometimes had to juggle work and looking after children) is also sensible: “Sitting hours are generally family-friendly but late sittings can be agreed without notice, which causes problems for Members and staff with childcare responsibilities. The audit group considers that the Assembly should decide by lunchtime whether or not to sit beyond 5.30pm, to provide time for Members with parental and other caring responsibilities to make plans so that they can stay late. If necessary, this could involve changing Standing Orders.”

But there are other suggestions which come back to the kind of forcing matters to reflect diversity rather than positive discrimination against obstacles.

“The audit group considered that it should be mandatory for the Chief Minister to have at least one male and one female Assistant Chief Minister.”

At present, the Assembly largely consists of independent members, although there is a rough political spectrum which might be charted out. But it is assumed that the political position of the Council of Ministers should form a more or less cohesive body.

Now if the political makeup of the Assembly meant that taking this on board meant that the only candidates willing to stand were opposed to the whole direction of the Council of Ministers, that kind of ideological straightjacket would surely be detrimental to democracy. Notice that it is, after all, not mandatory to be Assistant Chief Minister, and Senator Valois relinquished that post – it is not that there would not be enough women, it is a question of also being willing to take on that responsibility.

In these cases, we have to look more carefully at the obstacles for women becoming Assistant Chief Ministers, and also the nature of the post. With any position, the Chief Minister, as with any job, should be able to appoint whosoever they consider to be best suited for the role and responsibility, and that should be the key consideration rather than gender (or any other marker of diversity).

In general, where we are looking at the removal of blatantly discriminatory practices (which can ignore obstacles) which is different from the kind discrimination which tries to fix numbers in the Assembly. As soon as we look at affirmatory discrimination such as attempts to fix ratios, we are running into problems. Should there be a Minister appointed who has a disability of some kind in order to ensure that diversity is also reflected in the States Chamber?

As someone who needs two hearing aids to understand speech, I was appalled by the refusal of some candidates to use microphones in the last hustings in 2018, and the choice of venues with no hearing loop system in place. Would someone deaf in the Council of Ministers help the cause of deaf people in the Island?

Given the sorry state of play - the loss of the only social worker with level 3 British Sign Language - it could be said that there is a marginalisation of the deaf community as small and relatively unimportant. But surely what is needed are politicians who are better informed and educated about the deaf community (of which there are probably only about 5 in the States) rather than better representation by the community.

When we look at affirmative discrimination, it is worth looking at an instructive case in the USA. This was a 1996 court case of a white woman named Cheryl Hopwood who was denied admission to a Texas law school, even though she had higher grades and test scores than some of the minority applicants who were admitted. Hopwood took her case to court, arguing the school’s affirmative action program violated her rights. She was not being treated equally because of a numbers game which was biased against her. In trying to create diversity to better reflect society, the admissions practice was actually discriminatory.

What I think we must distinguish between is fair opportunity to all citizens - removing obstacles which can prevent that from being fair, from discrimination which sets forth preferential treatment to groups who have been underrepresented. If we muddle the two, we will end up in a mess.

Monday, 19 August 2019

Combined Sewage Overflows: Why they occur and what can be done?

29 July 2013: Due to the intense rainfall earlier this afternoon, the drainage system was unable to cope in the Dicq area and there was a diluted sewage spill into the sea for 30 minutes. As a precaution, Transport and Technical Services (TTS) is advising the public not swim or fish in the area of the Dicq slipway today (29 July 2013). TTS also advises not to take anything from the beach such as shells etc and to wash hands carefully if you’ve been in the area. The tide will refresh the beach overnight and swimming can resume tomorrow.

12 August 2019: Islanders are advised against swimming in the Havre des Pas beach area for the next 24 hours, following a sewage spill at the Dicq in the early hours of this morning. Lifeguards will close the bathing pool during the 24 hour period, during which there will be two tidal changes. Heavy rain during last night’s storm led to the spill from the Dicq pumping station at approximately 2.30am today. Teams from Growth, Housing and Environment have cleaned the spilled waste from the beach, and samples of the water have revealed high levels of E.coli and enterococci. The Dicq pumping station contains both foul sewage and surface water, and is connected to St Helier’s combined sewer system. When it rains heavily the surface water can overload the network.

What is a Combined Sewer Overflow?

These events happen because most of that area has sewage and rainwater runoff water in the same pipes. Most of the time, all this wastewater is taken to the sewage treatment plant at Bellozanne, where it is treated and then purified and bacteria free water is discharged via an outfall to St Aubin’s Bay.

But, as the United States Environmental Protection Agency explains, there are circumstances when this breaks down:

“During periods of heavy rainfall or snowmelt, however, the wastewater volume in a combined sewer system can exceed the capacity of the sewer system or treatment plant. For this reason, combined sewer systems are designed to overflow occasionally and discharge excess wastewater directly to nearby streams, rivers, or other water bodies.”

A Legacy Issue

It’s not just Jersey which has this problem. It is part of the way in which most sewage systems were originally constructed. As John Tibbetts explains in “Combined Sewer Systems: Down, Dirty, and Out of Date”:

“When combined sewer systems were introduced in 1855, they were hailed as a vast improvement over urban cesspool ditches that ran along city streets and spilled over when it rained. These networks of underground pipes were designed to dry out streets by collecting rainwater runoff, domestic sewage from newly invented flush toilets, and industrial waste-water all in the same pipe. Waste- and storm water was then discharged directly into waterways; in the early twentieth century, sewage treatment plants were added to clean the wastewater before it hit streams. Combined sewer systems were—and still are—a great idea, with one catch: when too much storm water is added to the flow of raw sewage, the result is frequently an overflow.”

“The sewers have been specifically designed with escape overflow pipes so that the mixture of sewage and storm water doesn’t back up into buildings, including homes”

That’s why the Jersey overflow took place, to protect homes and drains from sewage bubbling back and coming out of toilets or roadside drains. When sewage overflows into homes and businesses, expensive remediation and decontamination is needed to make them safe again.

By far the safest option was to flush it into the sea, even if that meant environmental hazard.

As to those hazards, Tibbets comments:

“CSOs flood waterways with contaminants including microbial pathogens, suspended solids, chemicals, trash, and nutrients that deplete dissolved oxygen. Microbial pathogens and toxics can be present in CSOs at levels that pose risks to human health. CSOs can therefore lead to contamination of drinking water supplies, beaches, and shellfish beds.”

Why the Cavern didn't work?

Part of the problem caused by storm surges has been tacked in cities such as Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta with the building of deep storage tunnels to hold storm water overflows. Jersey has just such a one in the form of the cavern.

However, the overload was purely at the Dicq – too far down the chain to affect the cavern. It deals with, on average, about 12,000 tonnes of waste-water a day, but was overloaded.

Mr Duncan Berry, assistant director of liquid waste, said the Dicq deals with sewage from the east of the Island as well as a mixture of run-off water and sewage from town. He commented that:

“The Dicq deals with sewage and run-off water but because of the rainfall it was inundated with clear water and the pumps were going like crazy to get it to First Tower, but the maximum level was beaten and then it overflows and goes out to sea. We have an alarm system and we get an alert when that happens.”

The impact of Climate Change, Population Growth and Land Use

Experts say climate change is causing an increase in precipitation, flooding and high-intensity storms and combined sewer systems like Jersey’s could experience more overflows as result. Climate scientists predict that precipitation levels and the amount of rainfall from heavy downpours will increase over the next century.

There’s an additional effect from population growth and more houses and flats. With continued population growth, the demands on Jersey’s combined sewer systems have increased.

Moreover, houses and flats on Brownfield sites make more paved surfaces which can increase the volume of runoff when it does rain.

What are the options?

What can be done? As far as engineering is concerned, there are a number of options available.

Upgrades can include improvements like larger and newer pipes, even converting combined sewage systems to separate sewer systems, where storm water runs through a completely separate set of pipes. But these will be costly, even if they do help offset the impacts of heavy downpours.

“Treatment Techniques for Combined Sewer Overflows” by S.M. Scherrenberg looks at other solutions.

In Jersey’s recent overflow, some sanitary products and larger matter went through the outfall to the beaches. But there are solutions for that, such as the Netting TrashTrapTM System of Fresh Creek Technologies Inc. This is a modular floatable collection system located at the CSO outfall. Using nets is an inexpensive and simple way of removing trash and floatables without using electrical or mechanical power.
As Scherrenberg notes:

“In general the nets need to be replaced regularly to prevent odour annoyance to the surroundings and visual pollution. Replacement of the nets will take about 30 minutes.”

But they are efficient at removing larger floatable materials from storm surges and overflows.Maybe those fatbergs would have been trapped.

Another solution he looks at is Hydrodynamic Vortex separation:

“In the USA hydrodynamic vortex separation (HDVS) devices are applied for the removal of suspended solids and other easy settable particles.”

“The system is self-inducing so there are no moving parts. Because of the gravity the solids will be pulled down. The floor of the vortex is under a slope to sweep the solids towards a central drain. Vortex separators can be applied when dealing with extremely high flows”

“In the past years more advanced vortex separators were developed. The Swirl Concentrator, the Fluidsep® and the Storm King® (illustrated in Figure 3-1) are examples of these advanced vortex systems, which are used for treatment of CSO water. In these systems inorganic chemicals (coagulants) can be dosed for coagulation and flocculation. In this way removal efficiencies increase dramatically (Averill et al., 1997) and colloidal matter, which will not settle by gravity, will also be removed (Helliwell and Harper, 1993).”

It should be noted that will not remove all the problem, only larger solid material. Disinfecting the water is a challenge, as UV systems cannot cope with storm surges.

So perhaps it is also time to address new buildings for the increased population, and more permeable surfaces. I hope to examine that in a later blog.


Saturday, 17 August 2019

The Call

What is the nature of our vocation, and when we hear a siren call for help from those who need our aid, do we obey that call? This poem explores how we understand our lives, how vocation makes sense of the whole journey of life, and gives us a vision to inspire and call us to follow.

The Call

I saw the sun so slowly set, it now was time to rest
The winter lands await me now, ending of a quest
I saw the seasons joyful bright, and now ever so sad
Here is now a resting place, and that has made me glad

A land of famine, sorrow, death, a voice that cries to give
Here is the purpose, calling now, and only thus we live
Let love, compassion, ever flow, as a life giving stream;
I heard a voice now calling me, it said “I have a dream”

This is the call, the task for us, to be this dark world's light
Beneath the hopeless times of dread, to shine as angel light
Bring living water where is drought, below the blazing sun
And in that light of life to walk, till travelling days are done.

Friday, 16 August 2019

Fort Regent in the 1970s - Part 2

I managed to get hold of this brochure which was printed in 1977. It is both sad and amazing when you see everything the Fort had to offer. Over the next month, I shall be posting extracts from this brochure which shows the incredible diversity of Fort Regent, and an optimism that has been sadly lost along with most of the features described in this brochure.

Fort Regent in the 1970s - Part 2

Considering that just 160 years ago the main object of Fort Regent was to repel strangers, it's now surprisingly easy to find ways into it. 

For a small entrance charge you can spend a day or an evening in what is fast becoming Europe's premier entertainment and sports centre.

Almost certainly the visitor to Jersey will have seen those brightly coloured little cabins floating above the town and buzzing their way up to the Fort. Those cable cars are probably the easiest, and certainly the most enjoyable, way to get into Jersey's sports and pleasure complex. From Snow Hill, in the centre of St. Helier, you can be whisked aloft to the highest ramparts in a matter of moments.

Utterly reliable, utterly safe, the cable cars leave Snow Hill continually fron ten o'clock every morning.

By the way, the cost of your cable car ride includes the daily entrance fee.

Carborne passengers for the cable cars can leave their vehicles in the Snow Hill car park. It's open 24 hours a day and costs very few pence an hour.

Perhaps cable cars aren't your favourite mode of transport. Possibly you feel happier with two feet or four wheels firmly on the ground. Still, if you're going to spend the day at Fort Regent you'll have to leave your car somewhere. There are some spaces available outside the Fort's main entrance. You can get to them by driving up the Fort Regent Road.

Otherwise, the best place is the multi-storey car park in Pier Road. There's room for 700 cars and it's open 24 hours a day. Once again, parking costs very little in Jersey - a few pence an hour.

If you do use the Pier Road park you're going to have to use your feet a little. You can either walk up the Fort Regent Road or, if you're feeling particularly energetic, you can climb the steps up to the Fort. There are 122 steps, count them for yourself.

You can also try walking into the Fort up the Glacis Field that's the grassy expanse to the south of the Swimming Pool.

"Glacis" is a military term meaning a bank sloping down from a fort on which attackers would be totally without cover from gunfire. You can see for yourself what an effective defensive system it must have been. Another credit to the Fort's builder, John Humfrey.

There's always something to see or do but, naturally, the amenities vary according to the time of day and the season.

The granite ex-fortress, once grim and gloomy, is now Jersey's exhilarating entertainment supercentre.

The ramparts that once echoed only to military bands and shouted commands is still a home for the rhythms of marchtime. But these days the sound could well be created by the familiar frontline of a traditional jazz band. Or it could be that the strains will be the softer sounds of a skilful trio.

But music is just one facet of the live entertainment that is available. There's so much more than simply music. There's utter peace and tranquillity for those who want it. But let's have a look at the sort of entertainment available during say, the summer school holidays. And, don't forget most of the entertainment is included in the very moderate charge you will pay to enter the Fort.

The morning is devoted to children's entertainments that everyone can enjoy. Entertainments like magicians and illusionists. Or there will be the all round appeal of the harmonies and harmonious sound of a three-piece band.

Things change in the afternoon. That's when you will find an exciting show based firmly in the wild and woolly west a cowboy special to delight all the family.

The Wild West Show takes on a new flavour come evening time. That's when those pardners you have seen in action during the afternoon take on a new look and a new sound with a more direct appeal to mum and dad.

Once again, may we remind you, most of the live entertainment may be seen completely free of any extra charge.

Look out for details of our entertainment programmes on your hotel notice board or ask at your hotel reception desk.

And please remember, if you don't like the music or the other entertainment we offer, then there's still plenty of room for you to do absolutely nothing.

Fort Regent is so big that there are plenty of pockets of peace where you can reflect undisturbed.

Titania's Palace is the world's finest display of art in miniature, a priceless assemblage of a lifetime's collection of tiny objets d'art.

It's the home, or more formally, the regal residence of Her Iridescence, Queen Titania, her Royal Consort Oberon, and all of the Royal Family of Fairyland.

The Palace was opened to the public in 1922 by Queen Mary and has subsequently been seen and admired by millions of people the world over - from children to art-lovers.

Just how small is it? Well, there are sixteen rooms each of which is twenty seven inches high; and every piece of tiny craft in those. crowded rooms is uniquely and perfectly to scale.

There aren't any cats in Fairyland, consequently mice are more commonplace than in our own homes. Look for the occasional mouse under beds and chairs.

You'll need the very detailed guide to the Palace obtainable at the entrance. Titania's Palace is a collection that could never again be equalled or even replaced. It's a unique assemblage of antique miniatures plus some of the most perfect examples of modern craftsmanship ever made by human hands.

Combined with the splendours of Titania's Palace is an outstanding collection of dolls. They've been assembled over the years by local antique dealer, Mrs. Violet Norman, and the display is remarkable both for the beauty and the rarity of its content.

Undoubtedly the finest dolls in the collection are the two "Bru Junior" specimens from France, the most sought after dolls in the collectors world, as well as being stunningly beautiful. Also on display is an early wax doll reputed to have belonged to Lady Hamilton - long before she turned her attentions to Lord Nelson.

And you can make sure that your memories of this display are kept fresh by taking home with you a memento of your visit. Available are postcards of this valuable collection.

There is a small extra charge to these displays.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

A Night on Prospero’s Island

Occasioned by tonight's weather, this sonnet is a mood poem.

A Night on Prospero’s Island

From behind the clouds the moon
Emerging brightly in the dark night
Shadows over stone and ancient rune
And the darkness of the barrow wight

Now the wind speaks, rustling the trees
There is a faint echo of a chanted song
A time of haunting melody, of unease
Blowing, blowing, all the night long

The sea, foam flecked, across the sand
The bay is empty now, glistening white
Far the journey to the near grassland
And in water, dances there a sprite

Stranding on the moonlit shore, staff raised high
Prospero conjures forces of sea, shore, sky

Friday, 9 August 2019

Fort Regent in the 1970s - Part 1

I managed to get hold of this brochure which was printed in 1977. It is both sad and amazing when you see everything the Fort had to offer. Over the next month, I shall be posting extracts from this brochure which shows the incredible diversity of Fort Regent, and an optimism that has been sadly lost along with most of the features described in this brochure.

Fort Regent in the 1970s - Part 1

The general telephone number for all parts of the Fort is xxxxx.
BUT for squash Court enquiries please ring xxxxx
Aquarium enquiries please ring xxxxx
Skating Rink enquiries please ring xxxxx
Bonaparte's enquiries please ring xxxxx

At Fort Regent you will find several public telephone boxes. There are two at the main entrance, one at the entrance to the swimming pool, one near the fountains in the water garden, and one at the squash courts.

In the event of First Aid being required please ask any Fort Regent attendant or contact the information centre. The centre for lost property is Main Reception. Public toilets are located within the Swimming Pool complex and in the Piazza; toilets for disabled persons are also to be found in the Piazza as are special facilities for mothers and young children.

At the entrance to Fort Regent you will see a notice announcing the name of the Duty Manager of the Day. He's the man who is responsible for the day to day running of the whole complex. If, during your stay at the Fort, you have any problems, complaints, or suggestions, they will be dealt with at the Information Desk which is located in the Main Reception adjoining the Piazza.

Dogs are only allowed into the Fort if they are kept on leads, and then only in exterior places. That means that dogs will not be allowed indoors anywhere in Fort Regent unless, of course, they are guide dogs belonging to, and being used by, any of our blind guests.

As far as children who have strayed from their parents, or from those looking after them, are concerned, the Lost Children Centre will be Main Reception.

For your safety a sophisticated Fire Detection system has been installed and if fire should break out alarm signals will be set off directly in the headquarters of the Jersey Fire Service.

Please take careful note of any information that is broadcast over the public address system.

If you are staying in the Island for some time you will probably find it worthwhile to become a member of Fort Regent. Please ask at main reception for full details of members' benefits and subscriptions.

Frank Erault

May I, as Bailiff of Jersey, bid you a warm welcome to the Fort Regent Leisure Centre.

This historic Fort is being converted to provide for both Islanders and holiday makers the finest entertainment and sports amenities possible. Local residents are indeed fortunate to have such a splendid Centre on their doorstep, and I am sure that they will want to visit the Fort often to enjoy its many attractions.

If you are a visitor to our Island, may I wish you a very happy holiday among us. There is so much to see and do at Fort Regent that I hope you will enjoy at least one full day here, and perhaps find time for an evening visit as well.

Some sort of defensive system has existed on the hill guarding St. Helier, Le Mont de la Ville, for at least 450 years and probably for far longer than that. But Fort Regent as we know it today was actually built between 1806 and 1814. It was designed by Lieutenant-General John Humfrey for Humphrey) of the Royal Engineers and named in honour of Prince George, later King George V.

When Humfrey began his work in 1806 he recorded that he had a total of 553 men plus such Masons and Miners as could be supplied from the inhabitants".

Later he assessed his workforce requirements at more than a thousand including 700 labourers and 124 miners.

Fort Regent is estimated to have cost £375,000 to build. Not overly expensive considering that some of those walls are 18 feet thick!

But however strong the walls, any fortress has to have a water supply. The well of Fort Regent reaches a depth of 235 feet and took nearly two years to sink.

Even before work on Fort Regent began, in fact, 98 years before the foundation stone was laid, the Signal Station was in operation. It was established in 1708 and is thought to be the oldest in the United Kingdom. Still used is the private system of signals first compiled in 1792.

The Union Flag flies at the masthead during all daylight hours. It's lowered at sunset and raised at dawn. The flag is never otherwise lowered save only on the death of the sovereign. Even then it's hoisted immediately in honour of the successor.

However, almost as soon as it was completed, Fort Regent was no longer needed. A year later Napoleon had been defeated at Waterloo and the French wars were at an end. British military forces continued to garrison the fortress until they finally abandoned it in 1932; although the Fort itself remained in the possession of the British Government until 1958 when it was sold back to the States of Jersey for the knock-down price of £14,500.

No battle was ever fought at Fort Regent but claims that the guns of the Fort never fired a round in anger are somewhat exaggerated. Second World War pilots can testify to the fusillades of anti-aircraft shells which the soldiers of the Third Reich sprayed into the skies over Jersey - without, it's claimed, any success at all.

Now its glory has been given back. Fort Regent, built to repel outsiders, now welcomes all-comers. Fort Regent has been transformed into Europe's most comprehensive sports, entertainment and leisure complex.

The first major attractions of the Fort Regent sports and entertainment complex to be in operation were the superb swimming pools.

One is a national size pool - and that means it's all of thirty three and a third metres in length. Even if the day is a little chilly outside (and you'd better believe that's not usual in Jersey) the pool inside is a different story. For those statistically inclined, the 175,000 gallons of water in the pool are all in the region of 80 degrees Fahrenheit or, if you prefer, 26 degrees centigrade.

The pool also figures in the Guinness Book of Records as the scene of the most profitable sponsored swim the world has ever seen. In a 2% day marathon effort 1,750 swimmers raised a total of nearly £20,000 for local charities.

What happens if you're up at the Fort and you suddenly fancy a swim but you've forgotten to bring your bathing things with you? No problem- You hire them.

Safety is the main aim of all those who work at the pool. On duty every moment that the pool is open to the public is a team of experienced lifeguards.

Safety, too, means that a children's pool has been installed. It's right next to the big pool so that the youngsters don't feel left out but shallow enough to reduce the chance of accidents. The small pool has its own supervisors.

But maybe you're one of those whose bathing suits never get wet- You are? Well, we've got a place for you, too. Try the sun-terrace where you can improve your tan and sip a refreshing drink at one and the same time.

Or if you only want to watch the swimmers in action, visit the spectator’s gallery which is entirely free of charge.

But your stay at the swimming pool need not just mean things aquatic. Afterwards why not try the newly decorated and luxuriously furnished Springboard Restaurant where Alfredo and Margaret will be delighted to serve you with coffee, tea, light snacks, or even their own specialities of the day. Or, if you fancy something a little stronger, try the licensed Hi-Dive lounge bar.

At the pool, too, you'll find the solarium. Just the thing to start off your holiday tan. Before you venture on to Jersey's beaches make sure that you start the bronzing process with a few minutes under the lights of our solarium. The price includes the swim you'll no doubt enjoy afterwards.

Once you have paid your initial entrance fee to Fort Regent the swimming pool complex is free to spectators, except when there are special galas.

The ramparts of Fort Regent tower 175 feet above the sea and if majestic views are what you expect, majestic views are what you get.

Breathtaking views. Magnificent views of the town and the harbour of St. Helier and of the distant country parishes. Views, too, that demonstrate the invincibility of Fort Regent.

With such a panorama at your disposal why not try the telescopes that are dotted here and there around the highest parts of the Fort? They'll bring details sharply into focus and give you an amazing new angle on St. Helier.

As evening draws closer those stimulating walks around the 22 acres of Fort Regent are transformed into softly-lit promenades for gently strolling romantics - undisturbed arbours for those in love.

Below the ramparts are yet more gardens. Rose gardens with the pink, carmine, crimson, and claret-coloured blossoms of everyone's favourite flower. The water garden with its sparkling fountains and rippling rivulets. Soothing and relaxing. 

And the peacocks. Flaunting their unbelievable tails and attempting to dazzle the attentive peahens with their magnificence. Listen to them calling each other. Isn't that raucous yell an anti-climax after their gorgeous plumage? By the way, it's best not to upset them. They have been known to get a trifle aggressive.

But there are smaller birds, too. Near the peacocks are the aviaries to walk through as more than a hundred brightly coloured natives of the tropics and exotic places whirr past your head and fill the air with their song.

Look out especially for the pair of white crested jay thrushes who lovingly sleep side by side covering each other over with their wings.

As you toured the walls of the Fort, did you notice the picnic spots? We've made places for you to sit down and we've even made tables for you to use. Please do use them, after all that's why we put them there. And afterwards, please don't forget to tidy up and put all your litter in the baskets.

Entry to all these areas is included in your daily admission charge to the Fort.

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Value for Money

Value for Money

A consultation and memorial project are part of the government’s response to Recommendation 8 of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry, which identified the need to determine how the failures of the Island’s historic child care system should be recognised and remembered."  It began in January 2018 when various stakeholders were assembled, and a consultant appointed.

So how is the memorial coming along? Fast forward to May this year, and the BBC notes that a panel of survivors has called for a visible memorial at a site yet to be determined with a competition for the best design.

So far... no memorial, no design for a memorial, no site for a memorial. And yet the cost so far racked up is £68,406! It’s like the Emperor’s new clothes!

I mention this because Government House – home to the Lieutenant-Governor and his wife - is set to undergo a £130,000 refurb, including the redecoration of the function rooms, new carpets and energy-saving lighting. That’s less than double the amount spent on a non-existent memorial, and yet look at the real work that will be done. Bailliwick Express reports:

“The Government is planning to spend £70,000 on redecorating the main function areas, as well as some, but not all, bedrooms. £35,000 will be spent on new carpet for the main areas – including the stairs, corridors and landings where the carpet was last changed 15 years ago – as well as the dining room and Millais Suite. As part of the works, worn brassware, radiator fixings, fan motors and pumps will also be replaced, and, where possible, energy-saving lighting will be put in, at a cost of £10,000. Fixtures and fittings will cost an additional £10,000 and the government has set aside an extra £5,000 in case problems arise during the renovation.”

Note that some of that – energy saving lighting – will even pay for itself in terms of running costs and longevity. Compared with the £68,406 splashed out on, well so far, nothing, this is really good value for money.