There have been some interesting tweets recently on Jersey matters. While Rob Duhamel was on air defending his tenure as Minister, there was some criticism about planning for historical buildings on Twitter:
LPerchard @bbcjersey The Historic Building section at Planning are unrealistic. Madness saving all old buildings & features simply because they R old
jimrondel @JLPerchard @bbcjersey Totally right Jim. The perfect example is Zion Temple. When are we going to get on do something? #politicshour
This reminded me of the story in September 2012, when the Methodist Chapel at St Martin was refused a door, ramp and handrail for disabled access by the Planning Department. In the end, the decision was overturned by the Planning Applications Panel, who felt that disabled access should take priority over the historic aspect of the building.
This wasn't the case, of course, with the St Helier Methodist Centre, where any ramps outside were forbidden by Planning some years before. In the end, a solution was found inside, with internal ramps and a lift, preserving the outside look of the building.
It is a planning policy that reminds me of the way Georgian buildings were constructed. The stucco-fronted neoclassicism of the Regency often disguised cheap materials used inside; there would be good quality hard bricks for outer walls, while poorly made "place" bricks which were cheap, including as much ash as clay, were used for the unseen work of walls and partitions within. The facade was what counted.
So too, the Odeon Cinema, probably the ugliest building of its kind (compared to the Art Deco frontage of Wests Cinema, or the fine entrance to the Forum Cinema) has had the insides ripped over and reshaped; it once had one screen alone and a circle and stalls, but all that changed when it became multiplex. But that doesn't matter; what matters is that it looks fine from the outside. As the book of Proverbs says, "Like a coating of glaze over earthenware."
Meanwhile, with the Nurses march over pay, Deputy Tadier suggested that Jersey Finance should come along and do something to support them:
DeputyTadier @jerseyfinance Will Jersey Finance be supporting the nurses at their rally today for fair pay? After all, they take care of your workers
This prompted the fair reply that on the basis of that logic, every industry in the island, from tourism and hospitality to the motor trade should also be supporting the rally:
jerseyrobins @deputytadier Will you be asking the same question of other industry bodies? Or are you just having a pop? @jerseyfinance
GollopGuern @DeputyTadier @jerseyfinance might argue they support CI economy and tax take significantly!
In fact, I suspect a lot of people do support the nurses, even if they couldn't attend the rally. It is difficult to understand really why Deputy Tadier was singling out finance. But it led onto an interesting exchange with BaldTruth - alias Deputy Trevor Pitman and EvilC59 - alias Clive Tomes:
EvilC59: But are any politicians identifying the funding to pay for a decent rise? Priorities - walk, but do nothing?
BaldTruthJersey: Could start by getting the T&R Minister to keep his word and get some tax from 'foreign' companies.
The main rejoinder of Clive Tomes (alias EvilC59), was not that States members should be critical of Philip Ozouf for not coming up with a solution, but that they should take responsibility themselves for coming up with a viable plan:
EvilC59: Interesting response as local companies pay no tax! What will YOU do, not who do you blame?
BaldTruthJersey: I'm surprised if you do not conclude the whole zero/ten fiasco to play a part in all of this. It does.
BaldTruthJersey: The Establishment way is to tag any differing as 'blaming' ; as 'wreckers' etc We need to get past that.
This is, of course, coming from someone who virtually compares Sir Philip Bailhache with Joseph Goebbels, in a recent blog posting. Perhaps he needs to get past some of the invective too!
But Clive was back on the case, noting that Trevor Pitman, rather like Michael Howard, was carefully avoiding the question:
EvilC59: Another interesting response, avoiding the challenge (and economic reality) completely. Shame.
EvilC59: Perhaps if you come forward with positive, economically realistic alternatives, who knows?
BaldTruthJersey: I hope you are not going to say we mustn't tax 1 (1) Ks and Finance fairly because 'they'll all leave?'
And again Trevor Pitman says various things, but avoids answering the question. Instead he asks rhetorical questions of Clive, which is another way of evading the question:
EvilC59: I don't believe I've said anything - I've just asked you, and up to now, you haven't answered
And now we have some comments on a Casino, but again Trevor doesn't say clearly that is something he is going to bring as a proposal to the States. His replies are so oblique that it is hard to know what propositions he is going to bring regarding identifying funding to pay for a decent rise for the nurses. He might be bringing a proposal to the States, but there again, he might not.
BaldTruthJersey: Gambling interesting example. COM want 'on line' but not a casino Why? 4+ mill tax. 30+tourism knock on.
EvilC59: So be positive, gather support and bring forward your proposal - far better than the blame game
BaldTruthJersey: Agree Which is what I do. I leave the blame/smearing to Bailhache & co. All my propositions 'positive'.
EvilC59: So do it
To be fair to Trevor Pitman, he is not the only politician to do this. One has only to read the Question Time in Hansard to see how Ministers ramble on and avoid giving answers. Here's an example by the Deputy of Trinity, Anne Pryke. Notice how she avoids any reply to the question about the population figure used for the proposed new hospital. Now that's something pretty obvious; as with for example data storage, it is prudent to plan for future capacity, and in this case, with a hospital, to plan for a future population figure. Instead, we get told what percentage of current hospital is occupied by inpatient numbers. It shows us that a bigger hospital is needed with greater capacity, but gives no information about the population size planned.
Deputy M.R. Higgins: Can the Minister tell us what population figure was used to determine the size of the hospital? Was it based on the existing 97,000? Was it based on some projection forward when our population policy fails and we get up to 110,000, or what figure was used to calculate the size of the hospital?
The Deputy of Trinity: As I said, on our 3-year recent data because that is an important figure because we know that there is an increased number - and I will get the inpatient numbers to you - but the present capacity of inpatient numbers is running at 95 to 98 per cent. Sometimes it goes over the 100 per cent which is not right in this day and age because it raises the risk of infection control, and also we know that the hospital with 6 bays to a ward, does not allow the flexibility. But as I said, I will get that information.
Deputy M.R. Higgins: With respect, the Minister waffled on about something that was not even related to the question. The question was quite specifically what population figure for the Island did the Minister base the size of the hospital on?
I could help being reminded of Yes Minister by these exchange sin which no direct answers were being given:
"Take Refuge In a Long Pointless Narrative. If you can ramble on for long enough, no one will remember the question and therefore no one can tell if you answered it or not. ...I summed it up...: if you have nothing to say, say nothing. But better, have something to say and say it, no matter what they ask. Pay no attention to the question, make your own statement. If they ask you the same question again, you just say, 'That's not the question' or 'I think the more important question is this:' Then you make another statement of your own. Easy-peasy." (1)
(1) Yes Prime Minister II, pp. 67-8
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