Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Maintaining Madness

This is the question asked by Deputy Baudains of Deputy Guy de Faye back in July 2008:

Question: With regard to the proposed sunken road at the Esplanade Quarter, would the Minister advise whether the annual maintenance and running cost of the fume extraction equipment is budgeted for within the suggested £500,000 annual spend, and would he further advise whether the fumes will be filtered before release into the atmosphere and, if so, the annual cost of so doing? Would the Minister further advise precisely where, and what height, the fumes will be released?

Answer: The estimated energy and routine maintenance costs for the tunnel ventilation plant are included in the suggested figure of £500,000 per annum for the total operating costs for the tunnel. There are no plans to filter the air exhausted from the tunnel. The pollution extract system will move the air through the tunnel prior to it being discharged at the tunnel portals. The air will not be filtered prior to discharge.

The key fact here is the cost - in 2008 - of half a million pounds for maintenance of the tunnel, once it is complete. This will surely be considerably more now, and this is a cost in perpetuity - something for all future generations to pay. In this time of cutbacks, you would think that States Members might just pause before voting cheerfully for that kind of expense today, but that was not the case, when they rejected Deputy Rondel's proposition yesterday.

The whole development, including the sunken road, is the Waterfront Enterprise Board's project, but in the States sitting of 3 July 2008, the Attorney-General, William Bailhache, said that they didn't have to pick up the cost of this in their accounts, but "he obligation to carry out the maintenance is being placed with Transport and Technical Services".(2)

The second part of Philip Rondel's  proposition was:

(b) to agree that the underground road agreed as part of the Esplanade Quarter Masterplan should not be constructed in any early phase ofdevelopment and that any proposals for significant  modification to La Route de la Libération should be brought to the States for approval before the commencement of such works, and to request the Chief Minister, in accordance with Article 22a of the Articles of Association of the Waterfront Enterprise Board Ltd., to give directions to this effect to the company (or to its successor company).

This proposition was lost, so the tax payer again will be cheerfully paying for the States desire to burden future generations with the maintenance cost. Everywhere else, Philip Ozouf is calling for cuts, and consistent with this, he did vote for the proposition; he was not going to be caught out in an inconsistency. Mike Jackson, Minister for TTS, whose department has to find the funds for ongoing maintenance costs, and whose head might roll if the disruption angers the public, also voted for. Even Senator Le Sueur, the Chief Minister thought it was a good idea.

But a lot of others voted against this proposition, and perhaps anyone concerned should think twice about voting for them at the next elections. They obviously don't care about money and some are clearly are ideological fanatics where the Waterfront is concerned. Others seem to have wanted to vote against simply because the Council of Ministers (apart from Senator Cohen) were in favour.

Do you really want to vote for someone who is so obsessed by an idea or the desire to make a political point that they can't look at the economic picture too, and consider how that money might be better spent?

"It's a small price to pay" is the cheap excuse of those who don't have to pay the price; it's about time they realised we might not want to pay their salaries either! If we cut the States by 12 1/2 members, it would just about pay for the maintenance costs!

Half a million pounds - just one year's maintenance - saved can be see this way:

Steven Izzat, Managing Director of the Waterfront Enterprise board, is on £280000 a year. Half a million would pay his salary for a year and three-quarters.

The States voted against giving public money for school visits to the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust  as part of cuts. About £33,000 is paid to the trust annually to supplement free entry for school groups. Half a million would pay for this for 15 years!

Free school milk for children in Jersey has been scrapped. Three quarters of the House agreed to end the provision that cost £183,000 a year. Half a million would fund this for two and three quarter years.

And now the States members are committed to spending half a million (or more as prices rise) on maintenance for a sunken road that the public most certainly do not want, in perpetuity.

POUR: 20    CONTRE: 30    ILL: 1    NOT PRESENT: 2

These voted CONTRE - the rollcall of shame:

Senator Paul Francis Routier
Senator Terence John Le Main
Senator Frederick Ellyer Cohen
Senator James Leslie Perchard
Senator Sarah Craig Ferguson
Senator Alan John Henry Maclean
Connétable Kenneth Priaulx Vibert
Connétable Alan Simon Crowcroft
Connétable John Le Sueur Gallichan
Connétable Daniel Joseph Murphy
Connétable Silvanus Arthur Yates
Connétable Peter Frederick Maurice Hanning
Connétable Leonard Norman
Connétable John Martin Refault
Connétable Deidre Wendy Mezbourian
Connétable Juliette Gallichan
Deputy Robert Charles Duhamel
Deputy Roy George Le Hérissier
Deputy John Benjamin Fox
Deputy Carolyn Fiona Labey
Deputy Collin Hedley Egré
Deputy Jacqueline Ann Hilton
Deputy Paul Vincent Francis Le Claire
Deputy Sean Power
Deputy Kevin Charles Lewis
Deputy Ian Joseph Gorst
Deputy Montfort Tadier
Deputy Angela Elizabeth Jeune
Deputy Anne Teresa Dupre
Deputy Edward James Noel



Ian Evans said...

Spot on Tony, and very well written.

Anonymous said...

Simultaneously we cannot find the money for urgent repairs to the housing stock. Last I checked estimate was £100 million behind in maintenance work.

It is something of a bizarre place where we can commit to maintenance of a potentially unnecessary road,but not to housing for people.


Anonymous said...

I thought there was a problem with the Rondel Proposition? In fact didn't Deputy Macon point it out. Tony you haven't coverd this is in your posting.If the CM and PO support something then we best be worried. Hasn't the Rondel proposition now given the Com to start developing in stages? I might be wrong but I know young Macon raised a very good point....

TonyTheProf said...

As far as I can see, they can now go ahead with the complete project - sunken road and all - because the States had already passed that before the credit crunch.