Monday, 19 October 2009

The States of Yesteryear - 1981

Continuing my perusal of the States minutes from 1981, it is interesting to note that in March 1981, two new additions were approved - for Highlands College - the construction of Block A, lift and staircase. And for Les Quennevais School - new science laboratories. It is remarkable how little science education there was in schools before 1970, with school rooms doubling for both science and other subjects on the curriculum at secondary schools. The physics curriculum on the early 1960s, for example, often included a limited amount of experimentation to supplement a very theoretical course.

Primary school science was almost non-existent in the 1960s, and even in the late 1970s, there was very little being done; I spent a term at Mont Nicolle School where I was given an assortment of odds and ends of spectacle lenses to demonstrating optics!

At Victoria College Prep, there were minimal science facilities and teachers in the late 1960s, where Anton Dupoy began to bring very rudimentary science into the final years; science was better at Victoria College where Brian Tricker had devised an innovative and experimental two year course, integrating physics, chemistry and biology. The course could even be said to provide a degree of early sex education, as it involved overseeing the breeding, pregnancy and the birth process of white mice!

As far as computers went, Highlands in the mid 1970s had a teletype terminal link to a Honeywell Mainframe in Manchester, and programs were typed on punched tape (in Basic, Algol or Fortran), and run when online - usually after 6 when the phone lines were cheaper! By 1981, the ZX81 was starting to be seen in schools, but it would not be until the end of 1981 that the BBC micro would appear.

Moving on to the "Matters noted - financial transactions", we read that the Island Development Committee had accepted the lowest of three tenders, namely that submitted by Ronez Ltd. in the sum of £81,078.73 for the construction of a new access road to La Collette Reclamation Area. It is amazing to see what is there now - fuel farms, bus depot, warehouses etc - and consider that less than thirty years ago there was virtually nothing. Unlike West of Albert, the La Collette area has remained resolutely commercial, and is pretty sensibly and functionally laid out.

A matter that would warm the heart of Deputy Phil Rondel of St John was the extension of sewer to Elizabeth Avenue area, St. Brelade:

THE STATES, adopting a Proposition of the Resources Recovery Board -
(a) approved Drawing No. W.S.597 showing the work to be carried out in connexion with the scheme for the extension of the foul sewer to serve the Elizabeth Avenue and La Petite Ruette area, St. Brelade;
(b) authorised the Greffier of the States to sign the said Drawing on behalf of the States.

Most of the Les Quennevais area, and well beyond to the estates on the way to Corbiere is now on main drains, but back in 1981, the sewer network evidently was not as comprehensive in St Brelade as it is now. Of course, some areas, like parts of St John, still lag behind even today!

Here is one of the ironies of history - in March, there was a question on United Kingdom Health Service charges.

Deputy Norman Stuart Le Brocq of St. Helier asked Deputy Francis Hedley Morel of St. Saviour, President of the Social Security Committee, the following question - "Will the President inform the House whether the United Kingdom Health Service charges announced in the Budget will affect the provision of free health care for Channel Islanders on holiday in the United Kingdom or whether our reciprocal agreement safeguards our position?"

The President of the Social Security Committee replied as follows -
"I answer this question in association with the President of the Public Health Committee. I confirm that residents in Jersey on holiday in the United Kingdom, who require immediate treatment will continue to be entitled to receive it under the provisions of the National Health Service on the same conditions as a resident of the United Kingdom. These arrangements are provided for in the reciprocal Health Service Convention and safeguard the position of Jersey residents on holiday in the United Kingdom."

This is all gone now, mostly because of the greed and short sightedness of successive health committees who continued to take money from the UK for the treatment of tourists long after tourism had declined. If they had sought to renegotiate on a "quid pro quo" basis, we might still have a reciprocal health agreement, but for the sake of boosting their budgets, they just let matters drift.

And lastly, I note this statement on Foot and Mouth Disease in Jersey:

The President of the Agriculture and Fisheries Committee made a statement in the following terms -
"The House will already know that a case of Foot and Mouth disease occurred on a farm at St. Peter last Wednesday evening. Clinical evidence satisfied the States Veterinary Officer of the presence of the disease and the sick animals, together with six dangerous contact animals, were destroyed first thing the following morning. At the same time my Committee declared the whole Island to be an infected area and extensive controls were immediately imposed. The disease was subsequently confirmed by laboratory tests. A close watch is being kept on all cattle and other cloven-hoofed animals in the Island and veterinary officers from the Ministry of Agriculture are here to assist my Department. Happily no further outbreak of the disease has occurred on Island farms but it is still active in France and has now reached the United Kingdom. The next few days will be a critical period for all stock owners and it is important at this particular time that the stringent precautions already introduced should continue to be taken by everyone concerned to stop the spread of the disease within our Island herds.

The BBC website, describing the epidemic of 1981 notes that: "It is a highly infectious viral disease that may even be transmitted through dust particles in the air and can prove fatal in pigs, cattle sheep and goats. Infected animals' hooves and mouths become blistered causing lameness, increased salivation and loss of appetite. They rapidly lose weight and produce less milk."(1)

I still remember Noirmont being off limits to motorists and walkers during past outbreaks of foot and moth disease. The last major outbreak was in 2001, although there was a minor outbreak in Southern England in 2007 when a leaky pipe caused samples of the virus to escape from a scientific research establishment. In fact, in 2001, Queen Elizabeth visited Jersey and the report notes that:

The Queen is presented with a pen and ink drawing of a Jersey cow by 5 year old Charlie Hutchison - a Jersey cow is traditionally presented to the Monarch when they visit Jersey, but because of the foot-and-mouth restrictions currently in place, an animal will not be chosen and delivered to Windsor for several more months.(2)

In 1981, Iris Le Feuvre was a Deputy in the States, and the outbreak would have been especially harrowing for her as she had observed the effects first hand when growing up on her parents' farm, and seen cattle taken to be slaughtered.

Lastly, on the three occasions in which the State sat in March, they finished once at 4.45 pm, once at 5.20 pm, and once at 11.05 am. Clearly States business was not quite so time consuming as today!


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