Tuesday, 6 November 2012

What the Papers Say

THE historic St Saviour mental institution could be sold to fund the development of Jersey's new hospital, Treasury Minister Philip Ozouf has said. Last month, ministers revealed that the planned new hospital would need to be almost twice the size of the current building and could cost between £389 million and £431 million. Today, Senator Ozouf revealed that a range of States buildings, including the Queen's House building at St Saviour's Hospital, could be sold to help pay for the development and the transformation of the health service. (1)

It strikes me that the site of St Saviour's Hospital, rather than being a massive feast for developers, would in fact be perfect for a new hospital. It's already owned by the States. The site is large enough to expand. The access roads are quite wide, and don't as a rule have a huge amount of traffic. There's a danger in being fixated on a St Helier based hospital, but The Princess Elizabeth Hospital, in Guernsey, is outside St Peter Port, and manages very well. Why squander an asset by selling it off, when the land would be ideal for a "future proofed" hospital?

The low cost of energy in Jersey leads to it being wasted, the island's environment minister has said. Deputy Rob Duhamel said: "A lot of people squander electricity and other fuel sources - energy is probably too cheap for people who waste a lot." His comments came as Jersey's government unveiled plans that by 2050 would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% compared to 1990 levels. (2)

This has to win my "silly statement of the week" award. The cost of fuel is increasing. Petrol is getting an extra 3p added on per litre, regardless of increases in the imported cost, which is steadily rising. Electricity is said to increase by 9 1/2 %. Coal costs have increased sharply. And we are still in recession. Where is this "low cost" that he's talking about, because I think most people would not want to waste - or even use - more energy resources than they can? Who is "wasting a lot"? Perhaps he should target 1.1k(s), or Chief Officers, who might well have cash to spare, but the rest of us certainly do not think energy is cheap, and can be wasted!

Senior executives in the UK's biggest companies have seen their average earnings go up by more than a quarter in the past year. New research suggests the bosses of top firms made an average of £4m a year. But Incomes Data Services, which compiled the figures, says pay and bonuses have hardly risen at all. Instead the increase is due to a rise in value of long term incentive plans which have replaced cash bonuses. Incomes Data Services said many executives were benefiting from the recent overall improvement in stock market performance. It meant that the value of long term investment plans had risen to an average of £938,000 for directors, and to £1.6m for chief executives. This meant that an executive might still be rewarded if the company's performance had deteriorated, as long as competitors had done worse. (3)

In other words, senior executives have found a way round the bonus culture, and being outed as recipients of lucrative bonuses by the media, and have managed to find a subterfuge by which they can still get a lot of money, but without the stigma of bonuses. That wouldn't matter if it moved incentives into longer term improvements in business in real terms, but as the report makes clear, it's just to do with comparative performance. You can still get high pay on a slowly sinking ship, as long as the Titanic is going down in the neighbouring shipping lane.

Nine people have each been told to pay £624 to a woman raped by footballer Ched Evans after they admitted naming her on Twitter and Facebook. The former Sheffield United and Wales striker was jailed for five years in April for raping the 19-year-old. Seven men and three women, aged between 18 and 27 from north Wales and Sheffield, have been accused of revealing the victim's identity. The law grants victims and alleged victims of rape lifelong anonymity. Clive Coleman, BBC News legal correspondent, says: "You blog, post and tweet on criminal cases bound by all of the laws the mainstream media has always known about and had to observe. And ignorance of the law is no defence. All nine of those who pleaded guilty today claimed they didn't know that naming a rape victim was itself a crime. (4)

I think the case of superinjunctions being "outed" by huge numbers of people on Twitter has given people a false sense of security. There is safety in huge numbers, and I suspect the 9 people hoped their comments would escalate so that they would be needles in a haystack. But instead they have been rightly fined for breaking the law. It's a lesson for the online community that you cannot have magic immunity just because you are online, and behave in an irresponsible manner.

The danger, of course, is that it may also mean that bad laws - like superinjunctions - may make a comeback. Is there a superinjunction or two in place in Jersey courts? The recent questions asked in the States by Deputy Trevor Pitman suggest that there might well be, and of course, Parliamentary privilege is a protection against questions about that. That's no bad thing. I suspect that Sir Anthony Blunt might well have sought refuge under superinjunctions had they existed, but he was eventually outed in the UK Parliament which - unlike Jersey - allows scoundrels to be named and shamed. Protecting a rape victim's name is one thing; protecting a scoundrel and traitor is quite another.

A couple arrested in Pakistan on suspicion of killing their 15-year-old daughter with acid say they carried out the attack because she looked at a boy. The girl's father told the BBC that they feared she would bring dishonour on their family. Her mother said it was her "destiny" to die that
way. The couple were arrested in Pakistani-administered Kashmir last week. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reported 943 women were killed in honour killings last year. That represented an increase of more than 100 from 2010. (5)

There's almost a taboo about talking about so-called "honour killings", and they are all about controlling women's bodies and lives. I think part of this may be to do with the fact that it is invariably associated at this time in history with Islam, and that's a touchy subject. A recent survey by Ellen Sheeley revealed that 20% of Jordanites sampled believe that Islam condones and even supports murder in the name of family honour. That's not to say that Islam condones honour killing, as numbers of leaders have said it is condemned by the Koran. But it does seem to happily co-exist with Islam and arranged marriages, just as in former times, slavery quite happily co-existed with Christianity. The religious culture seems to provide a fertile soil in which such practices can be justified, even if leaders condemn it after it has occurred. Perhaps Islam needs a strong figure like William Wilberforce or Martin Luther King to lead a drive against the practice and attack the culture in which it is seen as acceptable. It seems to be too readily accepted. It is after all, murder, and should be stigmatised as such.

And finally, as the USA goes to the polls, Boris Johnson in the Telegraph makes comments that are almost like the spoof version that appears in Private Eye:

Listen up, Mitt - because I've got the key to the White House Planet Earth is rooting for Obama, but his rival can change that with one simple gesture, writes Boris Johnson Holy deadlock! Holy hanging chad, this thing is going to the wire. As things stand, it really does look as though the US presidential election could be a photo-finish. Obama and Romney have spent about a billion each. They have churned the air of countless supermarket car parks and factory canteens with their can-do slogans, and with barely 24 hours until polls open, they are like two spent swimmers that cling to one another and choke their art.

Mitt needs a last-minute symbolic act of American humility and goodwill, and the one I propose is relatively painless. He doesn't need to sign up to the International Criminal Court, or the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. He doesn't have to close a single military base, and he doesn't have to resile one bit from America's amazing and arrogant doctrines of extra-territoriality on everything from extradition to personal taxation. (7)

And what is the amazing feat which the prospective President can do? Boris does make a point - which is a good one - that some people can just write off parking fines if they live in other jurisdictions (something Kevin Lewis has yet to admit). But he does it with charm and humour. There's no one quite like Boris!

Romney should announce now - just as those febrile Ohioans are making up their mind on that secondary but still important question of whether or not the Republican will bring reassurance around the world - that as soon as he sits down behind that desk in the Oval Office, he will sign the order for all American diplomatic vehicles in London to pay the congestion charge. He will instantly write a cheque for the fines that US vehicles have incurred, now standing at more than £7 million, in the course of about 61,000 infractions since the scheme began. And if he does, Mitt will have my support.

Mind you, I would support Obama if he did the same. (7)

(1) http://www.thisisjersey.com/news/2012/11/05/st-saviour%E2%80%99s-sale-to-fund-hospital/
(2) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-jersey-20206389
(3) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20216031
(4) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-east-wales-20207408
(5) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20202686
(6) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/ufo/9653499/UFO-enthusiasts-admit-the-truth-may-not-be-out-there-after-all.html
(7) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/us-politics/9654931/Listen-up-Mitt-because-Ive-got-the-key-to-the-White-House.html


Anonymous said...

Building a new hospital out at St Saviour is a very bad idea. The hospital employs thousands of staff, many of whom can walk to work at present. We can't recruit enough nurses because of the cost of living, yet you would advocate them all having increased commuting expenses out to St Saviour? It's a complete non starter I'm afraid Tony. It has to be in town, near a large car park, for staff, visitor and patient transport reasons.

The carbon footprint alone (for those that believe such bunkum) of a move to St Saviour is huge. And this in the week when Citizen Duhamel is telling us to save energy.

Tallking of Mad Bob, he'll be telling old people to put an extra jumper on and take in a stranger as a lodger to help pay the leccy bills next....oh hang on, wait a minute...

James said...

It strikes me that the site of St Saviour's Hospital, rather than being a massive feast for developers, would in fact be perfect for a new hospital. It's already owned by the States. The site is large enough to expand. The access roads are quite wide, and don't as a rule have a huge amount of traffic. There's a danger in being fixated on a St Helier based hospital, but The Princess Elizabeth Hospital, in Guernsey, is outside St Peter Port, and manages very well. Why squander an asset by selling it off, when the land would be ideal for a "future proofed" hospital?

Couple of questions/points to expand on this:

- is the putative new hospital planned to be a single site (so subsuming Overdale, General, St Saviour)?
- the geography of Guernsey is a little different, not least because most of St Peter Port is built on a steep slope, rendering large buildings difficult. St Helier doesn't have that problem.
- local roads to the existing site are OK, but if you were coming from St Ouen/St Mary to St Saviour it would not be ideal.
- would it be advisable/necessary to keep a small A and E service on the existing General Hospital site?