Friday, 31 May 2013

Canons to the left of them

ALL Anglicans in Jersey have been invited to a meeting next week to discuss a dispute that threatens the Island's centuries-old link with the Diocese of Winchester. The meeting, on Tuesday, has been organised by Senator Sir Philip Bailhache, who a member of the congregation at Grouville Parish Church.
The former Bailiff has been critical of the Bishop of Winchester, the Right Rev Tim Dakin, since the Bishop removed the powers of the Dean of Jersey in March following a complaint of sexual misconduct made by a vulnerable young adult against a churchwarden in 2008.
The Dean, the Very Rev Bob Key, has since been reinstated but his seven-week 'suspension' has sparked a chain of events that includes a 'Visitation' by a former Bishop looking at the whole relationship between the Island and the Diocese. (1)
The terms of reference for the Visitation are interesting, as apart from safeguarding issues, they also include the following:
"clarifying and describing the legal, ecclesiastical and practical nature of the relationship between the Deanery of Jersey, the Diocese of Winchester and the wider Church of England, including the roles of the Bishop of Winchester, the Suffragan Bishops, the Archdeacons, Diocesan staff, the Dean and Vice-Deans of Jersey and the ecclesiastical courts of Jersey in relation to the appointments process, the safeguarding of children and vulnerable people, disciplinary provisions and the general oversight of the Deanery of Jersey" (2)
That's quite a bit wider than just safeguarding, and also includes "disciplinary provisions and the general oversight of the Deanery of Jersey", which suggests that there may be pressure to reform Jersey Canon Law to make it easier for the Bishop to exercise control over what happens in Jersey.
And, apart from safeguarding matters, what might the Bishop like to do with regard to Jersey's churches? The Church of England Newspaper, describing the Jersey Canon Law in 2011 - later approved and adopted on 14 March 2012 - said that it was 15 years being prepared by current and former Deans of Jersey, consulting with Synod and approved by the former Bishop of Winchester, the Rt. Rev. Michael Scott-Joynt. But here is the crucial point:
"The revised canons would block potential moves by the cash-strapped Diocese of Winchester to amalgamate the island's 12 historic parishes, or assign a single clergyman to multiple parishes."(3)
And the finally approved Canon Law states clearly:
"None, either Dean or Minister, shall hold two Rectorial Benefices together."(4)
It's just one small sentence, but Church of England Newspaper points out, it blocks what Bishop Tim Dakin may well want to do, to drastically cut the numbers of clergy, and combine Parishes together. In 2009, the Dean wrote to me, and noted that:
"The Constables insist, rightly in my view, that a separate Rector for each parish is Jersey's heritage and tradition. It is also built into the law of the land through the Canons of the Church of England in Jersey. "
The new Canons of 2012 confirm that ancient tradition, and while they remain in force, they limit the power of the Bishop to make changes. And the situation in Jersey is different from England in many respects - the Rector is involved with Parish matters on the Roads Committee, and the Parishes support the maintenance of the fabric of the ancient Parish Churches. An English Parish, though it bears the same name, is a much less defined district, and the two are not homologous. This is not something that England finds easy to understand, in much the same way that English people find Jersey politics, and the tradition of independent politicians rather than party machines, quite difficult to comprehend.
Whether this aspect of the Visitation will be considered in the meeting on Tuesday is another matter. It looks as if it might be looking in part at ecclesiastical law. But the most prudent action, in my opinion, would be to let the Visitation take place without fuss. After all, any change to the Canons would need approval by the States anyway; changes cannot be made by the Bishop alone.
But Sir Philip Bailhache has more of a reputation for being somewhat pugnacious, and in Jersey, he is a large fish in a small pond. He has been singularly unsuccessful so far either in changing the Bishop's mind or, for that matter, getting much response from the Archbishop of Canterbury to his letter. There may well be issues of Data Protection if it turns out that he has been in possession of confidential documents, and was displaying them opening, as alleged by an anonymous member of the public on a flight.
Meanwhile, while the Diocese have published the terms of reference for the Visitation, they have not published any terms of reference for Dame Steel's linked investigation, apart from saying that it "will now make further inquiries, find facts and make recommendations about whether or not disciplinary complaints should be brought against any member of the clergy as a result of the matters raised in the Korris Review."
As Peter Ould notes: "I also find it curious that the Diocese of Winchester cannot release Dame Steel's Terms of Reference given that the whole investigation is based on safeguarding and the need for full transparency and accountability in these areas." There is clearly a degree of mistrust and suspicion on both sides. As an onlooker from outside, it seems like a wilful and defensive silence from Winchester, and angry posturing from some Church members in Jersey.
In these circumstances, the meeting at Grouville may well fan the flames rather than put them out. What is really needed is a peacemaker, seeking reconciliation and goodwill, and above all someone who can listen well. I'm not at all sure that Sir Philip, who has already been very critical of Bishop Tim Dakin, is the most appropriate person for that role. The meeting is "not intended to be confrontational", according to Sir Philip, but he hardly has a good track record for being non-confrontational.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Counting Car Emissions - Too Much Hot Air?

Jersey's government should introduce MoT-style tests for all vehicles, according to an air quality report. The Environment Department said emissions and road worthiness checks would make sure vehicles are kept within EU standards. Currently only buses, taxis and trucks have annual tests but the study found 40% of cars do not meet EU regulations. Jersey's Environment Minister, Deputy Rob Duhamel, said vehicle standards needed to be addressed.
"Clearly this is not satisfactory and in order to weed out those vehicles that are perhaps more polluting than their modern counterparts I think some serious discussions will have to take place with the transport minister about the introduction of MoT tests," he said. Air quality surveys run jointly by the Health & Social Services and Planning & Environment departments help shape the States air quality strategy.
Transport Minister, Deputy Kevin Lewis, said he would support the idea in principle but now was not the right time. "I think the short answer is not at the moment. There is a recession on and I don't think the garages are geared up for it at the moment. "We have our own road checks carried out by DVS and the honorary police and people not keeping their cars up to standards do have them taken off the roads."
Deputy Lewis said in future the island might be expected to introduce tests after pressure from places like the UK and France. The transport department said there are about 100,000 cars on the roads in Jersey.
I'm a collector of odd statistics, and the last one is clearly rather a odd figure. Unless there are a huge number of visiting tourists, it is most likely the figure of 100,000 (such a curiously round number!) refers to the number of cars registered to be on the roads in Jersey. The population is less than that, and once one excludes people without cars, and children and teenagers under 17, the number will fall still further. So some people have more than one car, and this figure probably also includes hire cars and cars on garage forecourts, not all of which are out on the road all the time at once.
But while I will return to that figure, I'd also like to look at the main story here, and the statistics in that. The report in question is the "Jersey Air Quality Strategy and Action Plan", which is available on the States Assembly website, and this says:
"The greatest proportion of air pollution in Jersey is from road traffic emissions. The 2010 Sustainable Transport Policy (STP) recognises that emissions from transport are significant in the Jersey context of air quality, and presents a series of recommendations which have the potential to reduce emissions from vehicles.Transport emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulates (PM10) present the greatest challenges to improving air quality in Jersey. "
The monitoring has highlighted various "hotspots" such as Georgetown in St Saviour, Beaumont in St Peter and in St Helier: First Tower, the former Bus Station, Broad Street and La Pouquelaye. Other sites identified as being at risk of elevated levels of nitrogen dioxide include Le Bas Centre, Mont Felard, Robin Place, Saville Street/Rouge Bouillon and Beresford Street
The report notes that "40% of vehicles on Jersey's registration system are over 10 years old and so do not meet the requirements of the Euro 3 standard". This is an emission guideline for all vehicles manufactured for sale in the EU after the year 2000. But what we don't know is how far out from that standard they are.
In other words, the earlier standards such as Euro 2 (1996) addressed other matters such as levels of CO2, and HC+NOx) but didn't put any limits on emissions for NOx and PM10. What we don't know is the profile of pollution from older vehicle emission. The report simply takes cars by a cut off date and says that all cars before that date do not meet the modern standards. But in fact, the situation is complicated by the development of cars over that period, and their continual improvement regardless of directives.
An American study noted that today' new cars emit 97 percent less hydrocarbons, 96 percent less carbon monoxide, and 90 percent less nitrogen oxide than those built twenty years ago. But the same report also notes that cars purchased in the 1990s will emit about 80 percent less hydrocarbons and 60 percent less nitrogen oxide during their lifetimes, even though they will be owned longer and driven farther.
California's Air Resources Board Chairman, John Dunlap noted that in 2003, new vehicles would emit only 25% of harmful pollutants coming from 1994 vehicles. But he also observed that emissions from cars and light trucks had already been reduced by more than 90% for the period from 1966 to 1994.
So the closer the car is to the cut off  point of Euro 3 (2000), the more likely it is to be near to that threshold. The threshold is, after all, an arbitrary one, set by politicians to reduce emissions. The figure of 40% not meeting EU regulations may be strictly true, but it does not give the whole picture. It suggests a situation which may well appear worse in terms of pollutants from vehicle emissions than it actually is. The cars prior to 2000 fit on a continuum, in which more recent usually means less polluting.
Moreover, it has been found that emission levels of vehicles are dependent on many parameters such as model, size and fuel type. For example, diesel exhaust contains more PM (by a factor of approximately 50-100 on a mass basis) than gasoline exhaust. The absence of any such profile on cars in the 40% category also gives a misleading picture. It is worth noting that an unexpected side effect of the earlier EU focus on controlling CO2  boosted the popularity of diesel engines, which have under the Euro 3 directive somewhat laxer standards than petrol ones.
The "Clean Air in London" report notes that: "the shift from petrol to diesel cars since 2000, for which Governments have been responsible, has resulted in actual primary NO2 emissions in 2010 being more than twice the level they would have been under the 2000 car fleet mix scenario (107%) - even after allowing for NO2 emissions as a fraction of NOx emissions increasing from around 5% to 20% or more in the real world;"
What the Jersey Environment Air Quality report does is to highlight a statistic - 40% - of vehicles for which there is (1) no automatic determination of failure to meet Euro 3 standards (2) no indication of how close vehicles are to meeting some of those standards. What would be more accurate, therefore, would be to say that 40% of cars do not automatically meet EU regulations, which is a different matter entirely.
Moreover, as I noted at the start, a proportion of the approximate 100,000 vehicles "on the road" are not on the road but either in garages or at homes. We don't know how many of those are at garage forecourts, or how likely those are to be sold. So we should also note that the figure is 40% of vehicles registered but not necessarily being driven around Jersey at the moment. Some may even be older collectors cars, only taken out on special occasions.
As these statistics are being used as a pretext for mandatory emissions testing (alongside a roadworthiness certificate), it is important that we understand their limitations. That's not to say that emissions are not important, but the figure being bandied about here is not giving the full picture. It's a good starting point, but as a tactic to introduce mandatory emission testing, it falls short.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Negative Media and Haut de La Garenne

A recent report points to negative perceptions of Jersey by tourists.  The paper by Matthew Dugdale was entitled "The effect of negative media on destination branding: Altered perceptions in the case of Jersey and Haut de la Garenne"
According to CTV, and Jersey Isle News, "Award winning research proves that tourists still recall the incidents and their decisions to travel to Jersey were affected."
Quite what is meant by "prove" in a statistical context requires more explanation, and unfortunately the paper is not available in the public domain to see how the sampling was conducted, and the nature of questions asked.
"The research focused on the effect of negative media on destination branding and how the perceptions of visitors to Jersey altered following the incidents of child abuse at Haut de la Garenne. For many years Jersey Tourism has worked hard to promote Jersey as a safe, family orientated environment. This forms an intrinsic part of the Jersey brand in attracting families to the island, a key component in its tourism growth strategy. However in February 2008 reports regarding child abuse at the Haut de la Garenne children's home surfaced and tarnished this long standing reputation. The paper researched visitors' perceptions on Jersey as a tourist destination and how they have changed following the incident. The paper also looked at how the tourism board has adapted its branding strategy to overcome the negative perceptions and whether families still trust the island as a safe holiday destination."
Matthew commented: "Since a child I have visited Jersey many times and following the incidents I noticed a slowdown in tourism on the island. However the incidents occurred around the same time as the economic downtown and it was important for me to understand the real effect the child abuse claims had on tourism to the island and what views people held".
The survey took place of outbound passengers at Jersey Airport; a mixture of and business travelers,; these were interviewed in February over a three day period "to ascertain, unprompted, the recollection and association between Jersey and Haut de la Garenne that passengers held."
So the survey is restricted to looking at media perception of people who had been to Jersey as a destination, and whether this is a good representation of tourists in general is another matter. This strikes me as one weakness. People who come to Jersey are probably more attuned to stories about Jersey in the media than those who do not. The only way to check that would be a random sample of people in the UK as a control group, and the survey has not done that.
"Passengers were asked what they regarded as the most prominent news story over the past five years in Jersey. Of the 122 respondents 44.3% of people recalled Haut de la Garenne as their first choice. This was unprompted. This is interesting considering the amount of events that Jersey promotes each year; it is famous for its Tennerfest event in October, the Battle of Flowers show in summer and the Island Games, however it was apparent that tourists still had an association of the child abuse incident with the island."
That a bad news story is prominent in the mind doesn't really surprise. If I was asked about a number of destinations in the world, the news stories associated would almost invariable be bad news; it is a well established fact that most news is news of calamity, disaster, murder, abuse, violence, death etc, and only the occasional event like a Royal Wedding or a Martian vehicle landing manages to trump that kind of story.
ITN notoriously has a tradition of balancing the grimmer news stories by ending, often incongruously, on a funny and light news story. There is a web site full of the "and finally" stories - Ostriches join charity fun run, World's Largest lego model, KFC smuggled into Gaza etc. These are the froth on the surface of the news, stories easily forgotten. Will we really remember "Giant Spider terrorizes M3" in a week's time?
Negative stories often have more impact, and are retained for longer, and promotion of regular events, however good they are, is not likely to have the same impact. It is the incident which stands out, not the regularity. My own memories of the Battle of Flowers is not of the many successful times that the entrance involved hire cars with big letters J,E,R,S,E,Y on their roofs held by swimsuit dressed young women, but of the time when one car braked a bit suddenly, and one woman tumbled onto the roof of the car.  I also remember the petals from heaven not opening, and going through the roof of a house. Small incidents, but they stand out. Larger disasters also stand out. What instant associations do you have with, for instance, Tiananmen Square, Hungerford, King's Cross, Three Mile Island, Lockerbie, Dallas, New Orleans, Ruanda, Chenobyl?
As the "Handbook on Tourism Destinations Branding" by the World Tourism Organization and the European Travel Commission notes:
"A problem often faced by countries in our security-obsessed age is knowing how to deal with a negative
national reputation. The problem is that stories about war, terrorism, poverty, disease, corruption, crime
and violence - whether entirely justified or not - tend to spread very rapidly, to be instantly believed,
and to last for a very long time, playing havoc with a country's tourism promotion efforts. Unfortunately, negative or shocking stories are very often more interesting than good or positive or pleasant stories."
The survey on Haut de La Garenne showed that 93% recalled the incidents surrounding Haut de la Garenne, and 42% said their decision to travel to Jersey had been effected immediately following the exposure of abuse and stories at Haut de la Garenne. It would be interesting to know where their main source of information was. Was it by blogs, or was it mainstream media? Did the survey ask those questions?
There were some pretty good reports by some newspapers at the time, and by the BBC (which accurately quoted Lenny Harper  which focused on the abuse which did take place at Haut de La Garenne; there were also some rather lurid and highly exaggerated ones - the Sun, and the now defunct News of the World being notable exemplars. The Sun said "Three said bodies were buried there - and on Saturday a teenager's skull was found beneath a corridor." And there were also the blogs of the time, some such as "Moving Finger" and "A Holiday in the Sun" now defunct, and the new blogs of today.  What we don't know is if the tourists read the Times or the Sun, the Guardian or the News of the World. Perceptions may differ significantly depending on the source.
My suspicions are that the blogs only have achieved prominence when reported in mainstream media, as that gives them a wider audience; the online audience for news stories, despite numbers by blog reporting mechanisms are not really as great. This can also be seen in the fact that blog popularity rarely turns into votes at election time.
There is also a greater degree of receptivity by the audience of mainstream media such as newspapers, although (as Private Eye demonstrates repeatedly) that does not always mean they are accurate. They follow the story to sell the paper, and the 2008 press conference by Mick Gradwell gained considerable notoriety in the short term, and as a result, two contradictory narratives often appear in the press, even though a serious examination would highlight the defects in Mr Gradwell's account. (see
This brings us, appropriately, to the reasons given in the survey for negative impact:
"Some of their reasons included the Tourism Association and the Jersey States Government giving misleading facts regarding the level of abuse. Others mentioned the altered perception of Jersey now being unsafe; the incidents gave Jersey a bad image and a bad reputation. Quite interestingly many spoke of the very bad handling by the Jersey States in handling the incidents."
I am not aware of Jersey Tourism giving out misleading facts, but there can be little doubt that there was extremely bad handling by the Jersey Government. The Newsnight debacle in which Frank Walker said ""You're trying to shaft Jersey, internationally" to Stuart Syvret when he believed he was off air, was pretty appalling for a Chief Minister to use, and the attempt to justify the use of those words only made matters worse. Yes, they were a redacted presentation of all that Frank Walker said, but there is no denying those words were said, and an inability to understand the need for apology only shows how bad the handling was. It was the Frank Walker equivalent of Gordon Brown's unguarded comments in an open microphone, and at least Gordon Brown realized the damage that had done.
Following that, a bargain basement press confidence at St Martin's Public Hall only served to demonstrate even more inept handling, especially as it was obviously designed to exclude Stuart Syvret and present a press statement without questions and answers. And the way in which the next Chief Minister, Terry Le Sueur tried to renege on a promise for a formal inquiry, and stalled on publication of the Napier report was just as inept. So there are certainly many public occasions in which the handling of Haut de La Garenne was not done well, and this bears out the survey results.
The survey report concludes by saying that Haut de La Garenne was no longer as immediate in effect over deciding to come to Jersey:
"Of the original 42% who claimed that that their decision to travel had been affected 28% of this group said that their decision changed over time and they started to travel to Jersey again. However it is quite worrying that 14% of this number (all leisure travelers) still associate negative perceptions with Jersey and actively restrict their travel. A large number stated that neither the Tourism Association or States Government have left a large number of questions unanswered and have offered no solutions. Many respondents spoke of the poor effort made by the relevant authorities to 'clean up' after the incident and change the direction in the branding of Jersey to effectively overcome the impact of the Haut de la Garenne incidents."
There are some good guidelines in the aforementioned "Handbook on Tourism Destinations Branding", which perhaps Jersey should consider carefully:
"Tourist boards can not and should not ignore negative national reputation. It is essential that any areas of negative reputation are fully researched and fully understood before they are allowed to influence a country's marketing plans: this may sound like an obvious point, but it is surprising how many countries and their tourist boards will react to what they believe is a negative perception without first establishing the nature, the extent and the causes of that reputation in a rigorous and robust way."
"Dealing with negative reputation is a matter of treading a careful line between tacitly acknowledging the problems (which if overdone can raise the profile of those problems to people who weren't worried about them, or even introduce them to people who didn't know about them), and appearing to ignore or even lie about them."
It is a fine line, and one which doesn't appear to be properly in place at the moment. Acknowledging the seamier side of Jersey's past is necessary, and that is also why it is important both for the sake of justice and for tourism that the forthcoming inquiry is conducted properly, and honestly. To try and fix reputation by fudging matters is not the way to go; honestly, and a real desire to look at the history of Haut de la Garenne honestly and thoroughly is surely the way forward. Speeches which have prioritized reputation over the victims of Haut de La Garenne (and appeared to sideline the latter) actually did more damage.
If I may present an analogy - branding may overcome reputational damage in the short term, but if it is not based on honest foundations, it is like the branding which persuades the consumer to try a product at the supermarket for the first time. It may well succeed, but if the product does not live up to its expectations, a repeat sale is unlikely, and word of mouth may dissuade other consumers. Reputation should be a side effect of honesty, not a second-rate substitute.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Geoffrey Baker on being a Prison Chaplain in Jersey

This is an interesting piece from "The Pilot" from 1983 on being a prison chaplain. Geoffrey Baker, who penned this, was in many respects an unorthodox priest, well on the liberal wing of the Church of England, which as he reminds us, is a diverse body.
But in 1983, society in Jersey was not perhaps quite so diverse as today, and anything unorthodox was regarded with a degree of suspicion. "The Myth of God Incarnate", published in 1977, had provoked reactions within the Anglican and Methodist communities; and the Methodist contingent in politics was also very much stronger than today. The Bailiff, meanwhile, had contrived in 1979 to prevent the "Life of Brian" being shown in Jersey under its UK classification, and effectively banned it.
Many Ways of Being a Priest
Geoffrey Baker
(The Pilot, 1983)
The Bishop was reassuring: he said that there was no need for me to worry about being a bit of an anomaly, for the Church of England is full of them! I am, after all, almost working outside the Church, in the "established" sense of that word. No fixed parish, no Church building as my centre. There are, however, many ways of being a Priest,. and this is becoming increasingly realised, even in Jersey.
I saw real value in what I tried to do during my years at St Mark's, and I was very happy there. I see just as much, if not more, value in my present work outside the formal structures of Church life. I spend much of my time with the casualties of society: as Prison Chaplain; as A Marriage Guidance Counsellor, and as a helper at the Shelter for "down and outs" and alcoholics. Just as it felt right to be at St Mark's when I was there, so it seems very right for me to be where I am now. God's will, you could call it. (My friends tell me they're not surprised I get on so well with ne'er do wells and drop-outs - they say I've found my own level at last!)
When I was asked to write about my work, by the Editor of The PILOT, it was suggested that perhaps my work might be "thankless and frustrating". It is never thankless, though sometimes frustrating. It has its rewards. There is a down-to-earth, no-nonsense reality about it all. The distress and the suffering of so many with whom I spend my time is of course deeply disturbing, but the unexpected friendship of so many people "down on their luck" is heart-warming.
I do not have many skills, but getting through to people, establishing a rapport, seems to be one of them. If this is my gift, then I must use it. In my years at the Prison I have met - without exception - nothing but friendliness and welcome, and an unmistakable honesty in communication. Few of the men there have had much to do with Ministers of Religion, and they are naturally a little suspicious on first meeting. This caginess rapidly disappears once they know that I sincerely care about them without strings attached, and whether they attend the Sunday service or not. Many of them desperately need to talk; to be accepted as worthwhile, if faulty, human begins, like the rest of us. This I have no difficulty in doing. We talk about everything under the sun: prison life, life and death, religion, work, crime, sex, food, drink.
The Church, and its many divisions, is mostly irrelevant to them, though they are deeply interested in the really big questions, like "Is there a God, and if so, what's He like?" and, "Is there more to life than we see here on this earth?' The Sunday Service, which I regularly conduct in the Prison Chapel, is now very well attended - for many different reasons, as in the Parish Churches. Hardly any of the men have been (or ever will be, I fear) churchgoers "on the outside". The atmosphere in the Chapel is something I wish others could come and feel for themselves. During silence for private prayer, you could hear a pin drop. When people are in trouble, they very often reach down deeper than ever before into the roots of their being. Reality has a habit of breaking through in the strangest of places - as we all know.
What do I achieve? I am not foolish enough (nor young enough) to imagine I change many - or any - lives. I set my sights fairly low, and just hope and pray that here and there I ring a few bells, start a few journeys, open a few eyes. I like, most of all, to think that I might be showing them the human face of God.
All this applies to my work with down-and-outs and alcoholics as well as at the Prison, as it does to my recent first-hand experience of children in care at Haut de la Garenne. My beginnings were in a most favoured section of society. I thank God that my links with the most unfavoured are now so strong. At least I spend a great deal of my time with the sort of people with whom Jesus spent his time, and was criticised for doing so!
Before I began to work at the Prison, I only knew of criminal cases from what I read in the Evening Post. The sometimes sensational headlines, and the abbreviated accounts of the cases, led me to a very false idea of what had often happened. Now that I meet and come to know the men involved, I can only say that things are seldom just the way they sound in the newspaper! The men have, some of them, done really terrible things. They usually are the first to admit this. They remain, however, like you and I, all part of God's human family, with potential for good and for bad. Like you and I, they are mixtures of good things and bad things. We are not so different. Maybe we need sufficient humility to say, and to mean, "There but for the Grace of God, go I".

Monday, 27 May 2013

Abbey of St Brelade

There is very little known about Brelade, or as his original name was Branwallader or Branwalator. We know that he was an itinerant Celtic saint; he is said to have been a bishop in Jersey, although at the time, there are no lists of bishops. It is believed that he worked with Saint Samson in Cornwall and the Channel Islands, where he is remembered in Jersey in the parish name St Brelade and at Cornwall in the parish name of St Breward.

In the Exeter martyrology, Branwalator is described as the son of the Cornish king, Kenen. This is the main source of hagiographical information regarding this saint, which otherwise is sparse. But the Saint's relics went to the Abbey in Milton Abbas, and browsing through an old copy of "The Pilot" from 1983, I came across these Parish notes by the Rector of St Brelade, Michael Halliwell, which gives more details of the relics - parts of the Saint's body - that were given to the Abbey. All I knew until reading these notes was that relics of the saint ended up there, but this tells us which ones. From a historical perspective, then, the Abbey was the final resting place of at least part of St Brelade!

The Abbey of St Brelade
Michael Halliwell
The Pilot 1983.
These notes are being written in a little oasis of peace, the Friary of the Anglican Franciscans at Hilfield near Dorchester. Here the brothers, offering work and a home for men without either, offer their daily sacrifice of prayer and praise. Like the brothers at Bec they begin with Morning Prayer before breakfast, continue with a Eucharist at midday, then Evening Prayer, followed by Night Prayer to end the day. Sometimes there are visitors in the congregation, sometimes not, but the worship is offered for God, not primarily for any who might be present.
In the brothers' library I browsed through the "History of Dorset", written in the last century by the Rev John Hutchings. Reading through the history of the Abbey of Middleton, Milton Abbas, I read an account of how in the tenth century King Athelstan, suspecting his brother Edwin of plotting against him, sent him to sea in a boat so that he was drowned. The King, repenting of his deed, confined himself for seven years at Langport, Somerset, subsequently founding the Abbey of Muchelney close by, in the year 933. That abbey was subsequently destroyed, and as a young boy, in my grandmother's house not far from there, I remember finding in the garden, and in many gardens in the village, beautiful carved stones from the Abbey.
Let us return to King Athelstan, however. Some forty years later, in 977, the King defeated an army of Scots and Danes. Hutchings continues, "Because of the festival of St Sampson, this success was foreshown him by God in the place where St Katharine's Chapel now stands of Milton, and a miracle was wrought by that saint in his favour, in restoring his sword which had dropped out of the scabbard. As well as to testify his repentance for his brother's death, he founded and endowed this Abbey."
The Saxon charter ascribed to Athelstan records, "He gave lands to God, St Mary, St Michael, St Sampson, and St Branwalader, for his soul and for the souls of his ancestors and successors Kings of England". And so King Athelstan founded the Abbey Church of St Mary, St Michael, St Sampson and St Branwalder at Milton in Dorset.
The King is also recorded as giving several relics to the Abbey, namely: "A piece of Our Saviour's Cross, a great cross of gold and silver adorned with precious stones; the arm and many bones of St Sampson, the arm of St Branwalader, and many others which he collected at Rome, Brittany and France with great labour and expense, and placed here in five gilt shrines."
A Cambridge manuscript adds that Milton possessed "the pastoral staff of St Sampson and the head of St Branwallador, a bishop." Butler in his "Memorial of British Piety" writes, "He is a bishop of whom nothing remains but the name, by the termination of which it was conjectured he was a native of Wales. His anniversary was June 3rd. June dates, incidentally, are also recorded at Exeter and Treguier.
We do not know exactly what the Church and Abbey looked like; it was burnt down in a terrible thunder storm on September 2nd, 1309, while the monks were at Mattins. The present, beautiful Abbey Church was the one that replaced it, and was probably never finished. However, the seal of the old Abbey is recorded: "Both sides of the seal appear to represent a fabric resembling the ancient church, though in one view there are three spires, and in the other not any, though rather the elevation of the east end, the two transepts with their great doors being both turned round to view in exaggerated perspective. In the first side, which may be regarded as the west end of the church, is enshrined a seated figure of the Virgin and her Son with two figures at the sides, possibly St Sampson and St Branwalader."
It is good to know that the sacred site where our saint was commemorated still offers its peace to visitors though his statue no longer adorns the entrance. Today, more than ever there is a need for such oases of peace where men and women can find God. Our church is one such place. How can we help those who visit it to find a living faith?
DAILY PRAYER. The first essential is daily prayer. All our clergy are bound by their ordination vows to read the Daily Offices in church and to encourage their parishioners to do so with them. This practise is based on the ancient custom of daily prayer began and continued in monasteries and cathedrals all over the Christian world. I am glad to say that more and more people are sharing these offices with us, but we need still more who will set aside half an hour to share in the church's daily sacrifice of praise.
GUIDES AND PICTURES. We hope soon to produce a new guidebook incorporating the latest conclusions of recent investigations into the archaeology of the church and chapel. But people are the best guides. How about offering to be available to talk to people about your church and your faith?
Of course many never see Christians at work or worship - so could we not prepare an exhibition of photographs telling the world something of how we live out our faith in worship and service? Who would like to undertake this? In these and other ways, as well as in the quality of our Sunday worship we can help the Holy Spirit's work in rolling back the tide of materialism which is threatening to engulf the world, and especially threatens our precious Island and its ancient Christian heritage.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Israel Past and Present

This piece is from "The Pilot", which was the monthly magazine for the Anglican Churches in Jersey. It was written by Terry Hampton, who was given a sabbatical working on archaeology in Israel; at the time, he was Vicar of St Aubin on the Hill Church in St Brelade. Terry was a gifted communicator, and reading this article, I can easily hear his distinctive voice - his humour, his chatty style, and the sheer enthusiasm which shine through. It's also very different from the traditional Christian pilgrim trail to Israel, and brings the country and its people very much to life.
Israel Past and Present
Through the eyes of Terry Hampton
(from the Pilot, 1984)
"Eight Weeks in Israel? You Lucky Beggar." I'd been hoping and trying to go back for twenty years, being last there as a student in 1963. Then, while still working in St Aubin, a friend came in one day and said our family holidays were far too strenuous, and would we like to go to a Christian holiday centre for a change? We talked about this for some time, and then the thought: would they be willing for us to use their marvellous gift towards the cost of an Israel trip? Yes they would, and then we began to talk about taking all our gear in rucksacks, and camping all over the place, and worry lines began to appear on our friend's face again.
From then on, everything began to roll, other friends heard about our plans and gifts came rolling in. One friend's gift was for the hire of a car for a month, which meant that we could go anywhere at any time and carry our gear in the boot. Another gift paid for our camp fees (quite expensive in Israel.) Anonymous gifts dropped through our letter box, and St Aubin's church council chipped in with a very generous cheque. It was a wonderful experience and very humbling to receive so much kindness and generosity. And so, off to Luton airport, numerous checks that I wasn't carrying guns or explosives, and then the longish flight to Israel.
Jerusalem was fascinating. I had two weeks there studying on my own at the Albright Institute; a marvellous place with 18,000 volumes on archaeology and associated disciplines. Chance to read books I should have read as a student, and to see some of the new material coming out. No one took any notice, and it was several days before I found out where the washrooms were. (My thanks to an elderly American archaeologist, who, seeing me sit silent for three hours wondered if I'd become stuck to the chair in the heat!).
I also met there one of the archaeologists who have been digging up Capernaum, and I took him to see the Herodium fortress in the hired car. We picked up Roman pottery sherds just lying about, and Dr John became a good friend. My hotel I wouldn't recommend for those who enjoy good food; I'd fondly thought we would start the day with a sort of French breakfast, crusty bread and coffee. The bread was hard, and one trick was to turn the pile top to tail in the hope that the lower levels might not have succumbed so badly to the heat. The coffee, usually with-out milk, until a fearsome German lady bought us all some Ideal condensed milk. She had studied Egyptology in Germany, and we got on famously.
Once the family arrived we had two glorious weeks camping by the side of the Lake of Galilee. Very hot, a beautiful camp site, and milk 10 shekels a litre. (At that time the shekel was 70 to the £). We drank litres of it a day, and ate grapes, local fresh bread which was very good, and avoided the beer which was 50 shekels a small bottle. The wash places were superbly looked after and often had a praying mantis in them as well as other interesting local wild-life. Mark was invited out to a wild Israeli party with the transport being a souped-up tractor. We met a very friendly group of young people who invited us to share their own caught Galilee fish, and who talked very seriously about the sadnesses and joys of living in Israel.
Once rested we went up to Jerusalem by bus to pick up the hire car (the steering was so light we visited ditches on various occasions) and then back down through the heat of Jericho, which has the worst road signs anywhere, almost non-existent. We went north to see Banias, the area where the Jordan begins, and the great mounds of Hazor and Megiddo.
Trousers Stolen
On to Caesarea by the Sea, the copy of the Pilate inscription, and the ruined town where Paul was once a prisoner. There we had one of our small bags stolen from the car as we slept a few yards from it. The clothes we lost included trousers, so when visiting mosques we went in pyjama bottoms and no one objected. What was serious was that all my research notes went, and presumably made an evening bonfire for some thieves gathering.
We had several days looking around Jerusalem, including the magnificent National Museum with its Shrine of the Book, and the recent Bar Kochba finds, which include a lady's will, and personal letters from Bar Kochba himself ordering grain from Galilee to be brought to him immediately. I took the family to see the holocaust shrine, Yad Vashem, and that is an experience we shall never forget. One and a half million children were killed, and their toys and grave, old faces are there recorded in photos.
Masada was a must; I'd already climbed it on the hottest day of the Israel summer, but with the family discretion came first and it was up by cable car, and walk down the Snake path at the end. The ruins are fascinating; you can see Herod's bathroom mosaic, and rooms within the walls where the Zealots lived.
We had the shock of returning to our car to find it had been opened and all our cash stolen plus camera. Our swimming in the nearby Dead Sea was rather subdued, there weren't any police there to report the theft to, so on through the desert to Eilat, camping in No Man's land between Israel and Egypt, and reporting our loss to a quite unmoved local policeman.
Horrendous Coach Trip
Walking about 30 ft below the sea with the most beautiful fish swimming inches from you was one of the experiences of the trip. And the marvellously cool Red Sea, just 20 yards away, which you jumped into every ten minutes or so as the temperature got to around 107 degrees in the shade. The coach trip to St Catherine's monastery, where the Codex Sinaiticus was found, was horrendous we had an Egyptian driver with an obvious death wish, who drove at 40mph down dried river beds. We were nearer the roof than the seats most of the trip! But it made Moses and events of his life a lot more real to us.
Our eldest son Mark was now becoming an accomplished barbecue cook, and we found that chicken was cheap, and meat horribly expensive. Prices in Supermarkets were not written on the items but each item had a code number and you had to find that on a long list with the day's price. (Day's price because with soaring inflation everything went up every few days.) Ben and Rowan picked up some basic Hebrew and Rosemary even got a smattering of Arabic -as well as Hebrew.
One outstanding memory of Jerusalem was meeting an Israeli Doctor called Beni. He invited us to supper at his house, and also took us around his research lab at the Haddassah Hospital. A lovely family and our evening with them, plus a later drive round looking at floodlit Jerusalem, was one of the memories of the trip. I hope very much they will come to have a holiday with us in Jersey.
We had hoped to visit the West bank and some of its historic places, but there was rioting and shooting, so we went to the outskirts and looked for the three possible Emmaus sites. Running dangerously low on petrol, and quite lost in a maze of hills and villages, we were given some litres of petrol by an Arab who siphoned it out of his car for us, and would not accept any gift or payment. I shall always remember that act of kindness.
If you decide to drive in Israel, do have your heart carefully checked out first, it needs to be in tip-top condition. The locals drive like maniacs, and much of it is a form of `who's chicken" as you hurtle towards one another on a narrow road and the ditches either side beckon you. You can live cheaply on fruit, milk and dairy products, bread and felluful (a pitta bread filled with vegetable balls deep fried.) Ladies hang on tightly to your handbags, and men hide your cash in clothes not normally used for such purposes  Don't believe more than a fraction of the history you are told by locals, and politely disbelieve tales of "I dug up this coin over there." (My Bar-Kochba bronze coin was a fake, albeit a very good one.)
It's a fascinating country, full of tells (ancient mounds of cities,) beauty, rogues and some of the nicest people I've ever met. Most of the traditional sites associated with Jesus I wouldn't bother to visit, but if you get off the well beaten tourist track you can sit quietly, and think of Him walking those dusty roads, climbing those hills, and swimming in the waters of Galilee.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Other Visions

A visit to Grouville church prompted this poem. A most peculiar version of the Annunciation, almost like some Victorian pagan rite. A figure of Christ holding a Bible (not a scroll), looking very angry, facing the viewer. A strange carving perhaps from the time of the black death. I had never really noticed how odd some of these features were.

Other Visions
Who is the lady, whom inspiration sow?
Annunciation of Mary, strangest pose
A Pre-Raphaelite stained glass window
Ethereal, dressed in flowing red clothes

And the music plays, echoing in the nave
And I see the Angry Christ, fierce in glare
Another strange stained glass: come to save?
Clutching his bible, seems to say beware!

In an enclave old stone carving, crudest face
Gazing across the centuries, in despair moans
Why is it there? This church a curious place
So many odd features, so many unknowns

I know the history here, and I came back this way
Seeing the church anew, strangeness in display

Friday, 24 May 2013

Bailiff Herault - Part 2

Something historical today. Here is an extract from "Jersey in the 17th century" (1931),  by A.C. Saunders. There is a lot of social history in Saunders, which throws up some quirky details that are often overlooked in the history of Jersey.

With the "Common Council", we can see the beginnings of the States, and it is interesting that here it is the Bailiff who summons the States - "Common Council called the Assembly of these States composed of the Bailiff, by whose mandate it is summoned, of twelve Jurats, twelve Ministers and twelve Constables"; also notable is that "sometimes the Captains had been asked to sit at this Assembly"; matters were not fixed in stone.

Evidently matters were causing alarm bells to ring in England, and Commissioners were appointed to look at the state of the Island and how well it was being run; there seems to have been a certain amount of military funding going into private pockets rather than defense. It is interesting that the Commissioners also "were also directed to enquire into ecclesiastical matters and the election of a Dean and what jurisdiction he should have", which is very much what we seem to be having today with the visitation of Bishop John Gladwin. As Ecclesiastes says, there is nothing new under the sun!

Bailiff Herault - Part 2
by A.C. Saunders

John Herault appeared in London, as directed, to answer the charge made by Sir John that John Herault, of St. Saviour, Bailiff of Jersey, had usurped his office of Governor and, at Whitehall in February, 1617, the decision was that Herault was acquitted of " Undutifulness to His Majesty or injustice in government, but not of heat of words for which we gave him a sharp reprimand."
The Bailiff was allowed sixty pounds to cover his expenses and directed to repair home to his charge, and it was decided that he should, besides one hundred marks a year as salary, enjoy the same rights and privileges as had been enjoyed by his predecessors. We think the charge of the military forces should be wholly in the Governor and the care of justice and civil affairs in the Bailiff.". The report of the Council was approved by the King, who directed it to be entered in the Council register.
But the King was not satisfied with the condition of affairs in the Island, In the fight between the Governor and the Bailiff many irregularities had come to light, and, on the 25th March, 1617, at Westminster, a Commission was granted to Sir Edward Conway and Sir William Bird, D.C.L., Master in Chancery, to proceed to Jersey to examine the forts and castles, the defects and negligencies in the service, both in the Civil and Military Government.
Their Commission gave them great and wide powers, for they were directed to take an inventory of all ordnance, armour, provisions and munition, of the number of the soldiers serving in the Castles ; ascertain whether any of the stores had been embezzled or sold, and if so, how much and by whom ; muster the inhabitants and take an inventory of their armour and munition ; examine the Martial and Civil Government and enquire into all extortions, oppressions, etc., committed of late years, ascertaining particulars of the offenders and examine into the dispute between Sir Philip Carteret, the Bailiff, and Philip Maret, who complained that he had been deprived of his office of Procureur.
The Commission, which was signed by His Majesty and Sir Ralph Winwood, gave them full power to take such order as may best advance our service and content our subjects. They were also directed to enquire into ecclesiastical matters and the election of a Dean and what jurisdiction he should have.
The Commissioners had a paper submitted to them descriptive of the Island at that time In it was stated that the King had a Sovereign Court composed of a Bailiff, twelve Jurats, Sheriff, Procureur, Attorney, Clerk, Prosecutor and Usher, and that there was a Common Council called the Assembly of these States composed of the Bailiff, by whose mandate it is summoned, of twelve Jurats, twelve Ministers and twelve Constables. Sometimes the Captains had been asked to sit at this Assembly and Peyton's Lieutenant, Aaron Messervy, wished the Acts of the Assembly to pass in his name, but the States decided that none had ever presided but the Bailiff.
The Ecclesiastical affairs had, prior to the Reformation, been under the Bishop of Coutances, but since then had been under the superintendence of the Bishop of Winchester.
So the Commissioners came to Jersey and Sir Edward Conway opened the Commission on the 3rd May, 1617, and in his speech stated that the King - our Sovereign - having received information of disorders of misgovernment in the Martial and Civil administration of the Island, whereof he has a singular care, and a great estimation of the love and loyalty of the inhabitants. He wound up his speech by informing his hearers that they had heard our Commission and " We do not doubt you will acknowledge what a just and loving Prince you have."
Sir William Bird also spoke : " That which the worthy gentleman to whom I am associated in this Commission has delivered to you in your own proper language, of the princely care His Majesty has of the safety and good government of his Island, though I be not so fit to express the understanding of all present, for my want of use of the French tongue, yet because I am a witness of what His Majesty out of his own mouth delivered to us, to the effect already spoken. I avow the truth of the same, and promise like diligence in discharge of this trust, without respect of any man, but a direct aim of the service of His Majesty and the good government of this country."
The Commissioners evidently meant business and their advent was a good day for Jersey. On May the 14th, John Bucknell -Master Porter of Mont Orgueil, delivered to the Commissioners his list of ordnance stores and provisions at the Castle, and on the20th May, Aaron Messervy, Captain of St. Saviour's Parish, delivered his muster roll showing that it contained the names of two hundred and twenty-four men, and that they had a falcon and a falconet with one hundred and twenty pounds of powder and six pounds of match, twenty-six balls for the falcon and sixteen for the falconet. The Commission asked for a return of the number of men charged with muskets and other furniture for the years of 1608, 1610 and 1617,giving the quantity of arms, munition, etc., for each parish for each year, also for any notes of musters in 1549 and 1562.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Farewell to David Warr

David Warr is stepping down as President of the Chamber of Commerce after two years in the post. He has been at times a controversial but stimulating President, and I have enjoyed his occasionally barbed comments about the States, and their mismanagement at Chamber Lunches.

He's also come out with some rather controversial and perhaps not wholly thought out ideas about GST and the lowering of the threshold for incoming goods at which GST becomes payable; it was a suggestion which didn't really make any economic sense in terms of the costs of collection. And in fact, in the Chamber lunch yesterday, he demonstrated one basic failing of that idea himself when he showed off his Kindle and mentioned that to buy a book electronically was an instant transaction, with no GST levied, because it just took place over the internet.

His leaving report makes some interesting reading, and is I think worth sharing more widely

David Warr: "The last two years have undoubtedly been turbulent and it doesn't look like that situation is about to change anytime soon. The big issues namely economic growth, population growth and growing unemployment numbers are as challenging and divisive as ever and for me have highlighted a huge weakness in the structure of our Government. Simply put, it's impossible to get things done in a time frame that is relevant to the prevailing conditions. "

"What I'm saying isn't anything new; it's been talked about for the last decade. The difference today though is that failing economic conditions are highlighting more than ever before the deficiencies of the current set-up. The danger is that whilst today we all feel rather smug that we don't have borrowings like Cyprus nor do we have to deal with the level of austerity the UK Chancellor currently faces we do have a long term structural problem in the form of changing demographics and a pension liability that would bring tears to grown men or women. "

I think he is right about the pension liability. Final salary pension schemes really do not exist outside of the public sector, and they are not sustainable in the long term.

My own preferred solution is to place thresholds on existing schemes, such as keeping final salary schemes up to a particular limit (say £40,000 for example), and then taking any final salary after that as based on that limit. The same principle, after all, is considered perfectly adequate when it comes to social security payments. Social security is only assessed as a percentage of income up to a particular threshold.

So this would be simply a mirror of that; those in the public sector who had benefited from the social security cap on payments would now have the final salary scheme capped in a like way. The advantage of this approach is that it does not penalise the lower paid, and reduces the overall pension liability of existing schemes. The only other way to deal with this fairly is to change the pension scheme to those now used in the private sector and commute the difference into a cash sum, but that would place an instant burden on the States, which would probably be difficult to bear.

What did David Warr say about the States?

David Warr: "Without a party political system we have 50 odd different opinions about what direction we should be taking and we have the post of Chief Minister which can't dictate policy to any of his Council of Ministers! No wonder it's challenging to get things done. "

I think I detect a slight hint that Mr Warr would prefer a Party Political system, but do we really want that? It might make decisions more quickly; it does not mean that those decisions would be any better. It would rather be that the whole apparatus of Party whips, jostling for power, Prime Ministerial patronage and the like would appear over here, but does that really improve matters? It drives out the more independent members to the back benches, and stifles debate, and for all that the States may take slightly longer to address some issues, it does mean it may be slightly less likely to get things catastrophically wrong. One has only to read Jeremy Paxman's "The Political Animal" to see how impotent the average MP is. Heaven forbid Jersey politicians should be cowed into silence by Party Whips.

Here's a passage from Paxman's book which should disabuse anyone from thinking that a Party system would solve problems:

"Where, once upon a time, governments impinged very little upon people's lives, there is now scarcely an area of human behaviour which is not touched by the law. Yet, while government is all pervasive, it is not, by its nature, particularly effective: the public knows from its own experience that ministerial boasts about the superiority of British health services, education or transport systems, are empty. So the opportunity which the politician thought he had to make an impact on the lives of the entire population is just as easily an opportunity for the citizenry to blame him for the failures they see all around."

David Warr: "So what does need to happen? Well we need to 'get real'. The demographic time bomb needs to be faced for what it means. It means we need a growing economy, it means we therefore will have to have a population that is much bigger than today. It means that if we want to keep our countryside we'll have to build much higher in St Helier. All unpalatable to many I know, but if we aren't all going to go back to living in tents, I'm unsure what the alternative is. "

On this, I disagree. The ageing profile of the population does cause a demographic time bomb, but it is more like a demographic humped-back bridge. Up until a certain point, there is an increased burden of an older population, but if you look at the statistics, once that is passed, the situation will reach a plateau, the balance will shift away from an imbalance of older population. We can see the start of this already with increasing pressure on Primary Schools.

What we need to do, therefore, is to plan for how to get past the demographic hump and come down on the other side. That does not necessarily mean increasing the population, and in fact, unless the increase comes in at least the under 30s, it actually contributes to make the demographic hill higher.

I pointed this out in more detail in 2008 in a blog posting, and I'd refer the reader there.

What is more, increased population leads to an increase in demands on infrastructure - an increase in demands upon services such as waste disposal, sewage treatment, electricity consumption and water consumption. There must be physical limits to growth set by the capacity of these services

I addressed some of those issues in more detail in 2012

But where I do agree with David Warr is that we probably do need to build higher in St Helier, but that's not because of existing population, but to provide adequate housing for the existing population, which is a present facing a shortfall. 

One thing which David Warr brings up very briefly at the end of his report is worrying:

David Warr: "As President I've tried to be forthright when it comes to dealing with the reality of what we as a community face. It's resulted in a lot of personal abuse and at times I've worried for my business, but if we can't debate these issues in a grown up manner what kind of legacy will we leave for those that follow? The rise of the anonymous troll is a real challenge to our democracy, a problem that urgently needs resolving as they diminish debate. "

While I have often disagreed with Mr Warr (as can be seen above), we need debate as he puts it - "in a grown up manner".  The recent false letter in the JEP by "James Pearce", and the positive deluge of comments which followed demonstrate how political debate can be skewed by online Tweets and online comments on sites such as the JEP. I agree with David Warr that it is a worrying trend, and one which shows little sign of abating. And the anonymous troll can indulge in very vicious behaviour, making personal attacks on people, hidden as they are behind their cloak of invisibility.

In concluding I'd like to make two final points regarding David Warr. Firstly, when he speaks at Chamber Lunches, he does so with clarity, and makes his points very well. There is nothing of the rambling and verbosity of politicians that we see so often in Hansard. There is none of the descent into vagueness that bedevils so many politicians in interviews on the radio or TV. And there is welcome brevity. Points are made succinctly. We badly need more speakers of his calibre, and I hope he will continue to speak out on business matters. And the second - his coffee shop's coffee is excellent!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Money no object at the Waterfront Road

The Planning and Environment Minister has approved a planning application for the first office block to be built as part of the Esplanade Quarter.
However that approval is subject to a Planning Obligation Agreement to secure a package of highways and transport measures requested by Transport and Technical Services, and is subject to more than 30 planning conditions. 
The principal planning condition is for the Jersey Development Company to provide the Minister with a phasing plan, showing the timing of the major infrastructure work needed to enable the later phases of the Masterplan. These include the sinking of La Route de la Liberation and the provision of public amenity spaces.
The matter which really concerns me is the sinking of La Route de la Liberation.
This is the question asked by Deputy Baudains of Deputy Guy de Faye back in July 2008, which has probably been forgotten, and quietly swept away into a dusty filing cabinet somewhere; but it is in Hansard, and you can read it for yourself.
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. It doesn't just occur in the question - it's in the original proposition notes as well.
In this time of cutbacks, you would think that States Members might just think again before going full steam ahead with that kind of project, one which would be considerably more costly than the steam clock.
Back in early 2008, when the plans were being discussed, we were still very much within the halcyon days of spend, spend spend - profligate States spending, and the £500,00 maintenance was passed by on the nod. I don't think we can afford that kind of "money no object attitude". The Masterplan was devised for a booming economy, not a slump.
We have to fund funds for a new police Station, a new hospital, and yet we are planning on removing a perfectly adequate road and replacing it by a tunnel which costs half a million pounds to maintain. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "sinking fund".
The Police HQ and the hospital are capital spends which give something back for the community. Quite what a sinking a road does apart from fulfilling some technocratic dream is unclear. Sustainable is a word which is often bandied about, but surely spending at least £500,000 per annum on maintenance is not sustainable in the current economic climate. It is time to call a halt!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Building no 4 Esplanade Quarter

I've just penned an objection to the plans - 'Building no 4' Esplanade Quarter P/2012/1141
(Applicant: States of Jersey Development Company)

This is what I wrote in my submission:
1: While I appreciate that office buildings are geared to functionality, there should also be aesthetic considerations relating to the outside of the buildings. That is a matter of subjective judgement, but I think to would be very difficult to justify the architectural merits of the glass monolithic cubes, of the kind proposed here and in following ones. They are bland, and touches of decoration to glass panels will not hide that fact. As something which is visible to tourists, or to visiting businessmen, do we really want an architectural statement of that kind?
2: The plans do not show that the old Victorian sea wall which runs along the current Esplanade car park will be preserved, and from the picture shown, it will be removed. This is a legacy of historic sea frontage, and as part of proposed new buildings is to provide a percentage for art, I would suggest that this would be a thoroughly worthwhile project. It could also be used in promotions as a statement that while Jersey has modernised for 21st century business, it has built on solid foundations laid down our ancestors. In this respect, I would note a recent interview Tim Nash in the Jersey Evening Post regarding China highlighted the fact that the Chinese culture (and businessmen) pay significant attention to historical legacy as an indicator of durability. As Jersey is planning on opening up markets to China, retaining a Victorian sea wall would provide an excellent marketing opportunity.

This blog gives me the opportunity to explore the matter of China in more detail.

It is easy to think that the Chinese might not be bothered with a Victorian sea wall. But the JEP interview with Tim Nash on 22nd April with Ramsay Cudlipp opened my eyes to how different their culture and values are.
"Studying China's history is extremely important in communicating with them. At Oxford we studied the ancient as well as the modern, and it helped because the challenge is often how you find common ground with one another. At one level, Jersey and China are at Polar opposites. China is massive and Jersey is tiny. People in China also laughed when I told them that Jersey had a population of 90,000 because to them 90,000 people is just a full football stadium, it's just an event, it is not a country or a place to live."
"So it is all about finding common ground, and in China, whether you are speaking to a taxi driver, a cleaner, a university professor, or a government official, one thing that will come out in conversation is that China has 5,000 years of history. It is deeply ingrained in the Chinese psyche that they stand 5,000 years downstream of history - which is strength and a weakness. It adds weight, but there can be certain fatalism about it."
So - as Tim explains - telling people in China that Jersey is an important offshore finance centre is a joke; Jersey is so small, so how can it possibly register? And yet if Jersey's past is mentioned, looking back to the Middle Ages and before, Tim noted that this suddenly commanded respect. It is not intuitive to us, because we don't have a tradition of seeing history in that light, and seeing the present value through the filter of times gone by. As Tim Nash comments:
"It would never occur to someone in Jersey finance or agriculture to start with that, but to people in China that is 5,000 years of history and that's worth something. You go from being the joke in the room to being the person who comes from somewhere that has something in common with them".
So there is a very good case for saying that a Victorian sea wall, incorporated into plans for modern office buildings, shows that Jersey is proud of its history, and that the new and old can co-exist; it's the kind of thinking that the Chinese would certainly respect, and as we look increasingly to the Far East for financial opportunities for Jersey business, that is something the planners would do well to remember. As Tim Nash reminds us, that's one link going back in our history, which is the kind of thinking valued highly in Chinese culture.

Last Saturday, I put up a poem to express what it means to lose a sea wall like this; it can be read at:

If you want to see some old pictures of that wall, click here

If you agree with my arguments, or my sentiments, please help.

What can you do? Put an objection in to the plans.

Denise Carroll commented on Facebook that "If people don't do this and start standing up for themselves our once peaceful and beautiful Island will be lost forever and people will have nobody to blame but themselves."

And Save Our Shoreline have put up this easy to use guide:

HOW TO OBJECT TO 'Building no 4' Esplanade Quarter P/2012/1141

The applicants (the States of Jersey Development Company) wish to destroy the old sea wall instead of incorporating it into the design which would, we feel, be a sympathetic move to protect our heritage (and also fulfil the percentage of Art component) rather than import a Russian artist who resides in Wales to make opaque corporate glass panels on the ground floor. No doubt he is good at it but we doubt the design will reflect our heritage in the way that retaining and enhancing our old granite sea wall will.

We have been asked several times this afternoon how you can object so we have prepared an easy guide to cut out the hassle. So if you agree with our last post, please do! Time is short so please if you can send your objection in either in your own words or if you agree with the letter below use that.

BY POST: Print the letter below, sign & date and send to the address.

BY EMAIL: send your letter or a copy of the letter in the picture (just send the picture as an attachment by email - if you aren't sure how to do that, print it and attach the scan to: John Nicholson, Senior Planner
ON LINE: the link is found from here:  

Monday, 20 May 2013

The Name of the Writer

There is a letter which appeared in the JEP, purporting to be from James Pearce, of 17b Marett Court, which was critical of Deputy Montfort Tadier's recent interview in the French press. It began:
"FREE speech and speaking one's mind is all very well, but if, when speaking to a major newspaper, a States Member says something that's inaccurate, nonsense or just plain silly then they should be challenged on it."
In fact, the entire letter by Mr Pearce was full of rhetoric, but lacking in substance. And an investigation by Nick Le Cornu revealed even more about the writer:
"There is no 17b Marett Court. There are only flats with whole numbers. The woman at Flat 17 has no idea who James Pearce may be, a name not on the current electoral role"
The JEP has since acknowledged that the address is bogus, and the writer may well be using a false name. Not being able to track the writer, they are exercising caution over whether he is a real person or not.
There's been a lot of criticism on Facebook about how they should check their letters more thoroughly before printing them, for example: "The post should check before printing any letters, not very good from our local paper."
But how can they check, short of going round to the door?
If there is a postcode, addresses are relatively easy as postcode search software quickly gives the addresses on that postcode; that's what you see that on various online sites before purchases are made - you put in your postcode, and it comes up with a list of houses or flats at that postcode.
Names, however, are more tricky. They may not be in the phone book because they have decided to be ex-directory. They may not be on the electoral role. I do not know how Darius Pearce (no relation of the aforementioned James) can boldly state "I have taken the trouble to do my research and I can confirm that there is no James Pearce in Jersey"; there is simply no way that degree of certainty can operate unless you have access to detailed census returns (and they were completed accurately).
Short of going round to an address and making inquiries, how is the JEP to know whether a letter is genuine or not?
In 2010, a writer called "Ellie Light" wrote a letter which concluded:
"... today, the president is being attacked as if he were a salesman who promised us that our problems would wash off in the morning. He never made such a promise. It's time for Americans to realize that governing is hard work, and that a president can't just wave a magic wand and fix everything."
As Media Post news notes, this letter was published by at least 65 provincial newspapers in 31 states, as well as Politico, a USA Today blog, and at least two foreign publications, and the larger papers such as the Philadelphia Daily News, San Francisco Examiner, Baltimore Chronicle and Washington Times. But "Ellie Light" must be a fake, as it was discovered the addresses were false:
"In each case "Light" has claimed to be a local, claiming residence in states including Alabama, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia."
In practical terms, it is simply not possible for any newspaper to check every letter is genuine. There has to be an element of trust.
It is because of that element of trust, that the hoax letter writer can make their mark. Those of us with long memories will recall the "Henry Root letter" of 1980.
These were a series of letters sent by "Henry Root" to famous football clubs, publishers, chief constables, Margaret Thatcher, politicians, newspaper editors etc. by the real author William Donaldson, an English satirist.
There was often a rather nasty edge to the Root letters, a degree of unpleasantness in which he insulted those he had written to, or held them up to scorn and ridicule, and was pleased that he had deceived them with his fake persona.
A milder example is a letter to Harriet Harman, whom he addresses as being representative of "The National Council for so-called Civil Liberties"; he writes to her:
"I saw you on television the other night. Why should an attractive lass like you want to confuse her pretty little head with complicated matters of politics, jurisprudence, sociology and the so-called rights of man? Leave such considerations to us men, that's my advice to you. A pretty girl like you should have settled down by now with a husband and a couple of kiddies."
Fake letters and hoax letter writers are here to stay, and with the best will in the world, it is impossible to easily find them out. Fake addresses are another matter, and perhaps the JEP could exercise a little more vigilance there.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Islamic Monoculture and Women

I've been reading the BBC news story about Afghanistan, where a law to prevent violence against women has been halted amid angry scenes. So called "traditionalists" have called for the law to be scrapped. The country has had trouble enacting such laws. In 2009, a presidential decree banned violence against women, child marriages and forced marriages, but the MPs did not give it approval.

During this recent debate, mullahs and other traditionalist MPs accused President Karzai of acting against Islamic Sharia law by signing the decree in the first place. In particular, they demanded a change to the law so that men cannot be prosecuted for rape within marriage. And President Karzai has come under fire from women's groups for frequently changing his position on women's rights. In 2012, he endorsed a "code of conduct" issued by an influential council of clerics which allows husbands to beat wives under certain circumstances.

This kind of society makes our culture, where there may be the occasional wolf-whistle, seem very positive about women's rights. But we should not rest on our laurels too easily. The culture which begins with mild degradation can be the start of an attitude which leads to a much more violent outcome. There is still an awful lot of sexism in our culture, but it is held back, and constrained; it cannot let rip in the way that it is doing in Afghanistan. But there's still a frame of mind there, which can surface in conversations when men are speaking together. The seeds are there; they just never come to fruition. But they can erupt, and those are the circumstances which lead to women fleeing from a violent relationship, and going to the safety of the women's refuge. The very existence of a woman's refuge is a sign that our society is not perfect. We have no right to be smug and complacent.

But at least we don't have religious endorsement for violence against women. The days when they were legally treated as chattel - property - are behind us. The State does not endorse that, neither does the church. Afghanistan shows how States and religion can come together in Sharia law to provide what is, in effect, a very unholy combination.

And that is also the case in the Sudan, where Sharia law allows the State to enforce public morality; it has  reduced women's mobility and their participation in the public sphere. Gender segregation is implemented in all public spaces. For example, on public buses, women must stand separately in the back.

It is clear, from reading Aina Khan, a lawyer specializing in Islamic law who works in the UK, that Sharia law does not necessitate this. In the UK, she has used this to help women who have been in forced marriages to obtain annulments from the Sharia Council in the UK, and a nullity decree from English courts, because duress was used. There can be positive effects, although I notice she does not address the matter of a woman's testimony being considered half that of a man's.

But it is also clear that Sharia law can have a wide and differing interpretation depending upon the culture and political regime in which it is practiced. If we come back to the status of women's testimony, this is a disputed area, in Islam, with differences between scholars. That it should be so indicates a major problem with the kind of thinking involved. Both sides in this debate are looking at verses in the Quran, where in one case, with witnesses for financial documents, the Qur'an asks for two men or one man and two women.

What is not considered is legal fairness, where people are treated equally under the law, as a primary value in deciding these matters. This is the major problem. What happens, of course, as happens with any holy book, is that it is very difficult to differentiate between principles derived from the texts, and principles first held, and for which an interpretation of the text is used as a rationale, to back that up as a "proof".  That is why apartheid was so strong in South Africa, because it derived from a particular religious interpretation.

As a warning to Richard Dawkins, it should be noted that ideology can just as easily fill the void if no religion is present. However, the presence of a holy book can provide an easy path to legitimize discrimination. That's what just fulminating against all religion overlooks.

In Afghanistan, the Sudan, and elsewhere, women are not being treated equally. Sharia law is undoubtedly being used to provide legitimacy for the unfair treatment of woman, as equal with men under the law.  And there does not seem any way of challenging these applications of Sharia law that does not lead to violence against those providing a critique, as we can see in Pakistan.

Christianity has its own critique built into it from its founder. But whether Islam has such a strong tradition of internal critique is another matter.

In Mark's gospel, Jesus tells the Pharisees: "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.". In other words, get your priorities right; look at the underlying intent, look at the scaffolding you have erected to preserve the law, and notice that you've completely missed the point.

One writer who I've found who puts this extremely Father Joseph Girzon

"Where there is a human need the law must bend. It is God's children who are sacred to God, not laws. Laws are to protect or assist God's children. If a law does not do that, it should be re-evaluated, and, perhaps, abrogated."

"One cannot help but think of religious laws and customs today that may have had meaning at one time but are a hindrance to the healthy practice of spirituality in our times. This is not to say that morality should change, but there are many religious laws that have nothing to do with the moral law. They are merely arbitrary ordinances that could be changed. Often people's attachment to traditions and customs resist changing them even though they may cause of occasion untold damage to many good people. When religious leaders see the damage done, one would think as good shepherds concerned for the sheep they would be the first to recognize the need for change. It is difficult to understand their obsessive attachment to customs and practices when they more often give rise to scandal than inspire goodness."

Why is there such an obsessive attachment to customs and practices that denigrate and downgrade women in countries like Afghanistan and Sudan?

There is firstly a commitment to monoculture. In Europe, the breakup of the Catholic Church at the Reformation, the wars of religion that followed, gradually led to a principle of toleration in which the dominant group did not feel the obsessive need to show that they were right by persecuting others who believed differently.

The kind of culture assigned particular roles and limitation to how women should behave. When you are born into a monoculture, raised in that culture, you tend to see everything through the eyes of that culture.  Outside voices that speak of difference are a threat to the stability and order of your world. It took world wars to shake up Western culture to such an extent that women gained significant recognition. Before the First World War, suffragettes were simply locked up in prison.

And people in positions of power, even in the West, get attached to that power and reluctant to give it up. In the power relationships between men and women in a monoculture, men are often very reluctant to cede any of that power.  In a monoculture, this emerges in violence and threats, which is not surprising, because that is the pattern of reaction that has been inculcated and fermented by the leaders.

There is no easy way to conclude this reflection, because this is a situation without conclusion. One ray of hope must be that the existing Sharia law allows differences of interpretation, and that may be a much needed wedge to break a monoculture. In a society where the brave and outspoken are assassinated, can seeds of doubt be sown? The prognosis is not good, but stranger things have happened. We must not give up hope.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Sea Wall

The new Waterfront plans for box like office blocks of steel and glass have left no place for an ancient part of Jersey's sea wall left behind when land was reclaimed in the late 20th century. It seems that it is cheaper to remove architecture of character and distinction that to think how to incorporate it into their plans.  I know we can't hang onto all the past, but there seems to be a mindset that doesn't even consider it. This is my lament for the wall while it is still here.

Sea Wall
I remember lapping of waves, a mellow June night
Oh, those were the days, such days long ago
And tourists promenading, and their delight
Memories caught up, with time flowing slow
I remember stormy weather, the roar of the sea
And waves breaking fierce, spray flying high
Sea waters flooding inland, flow over me
But now I am inland, and left high and dry
I remember so much, windswept and blown
Of the cries of seagulls, wheeling in flight
I am the sea wall built of good Jersey stone
But new plans remove me, this is my plight
New office block plans mean knocking me down
Remember me please, another lost part of town.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Guernsey Watch

I've been glancing over the sea to our sister Island of Guernsey, to see what's been going on over there.

The current scandal in China is rat meat sold as lamb. However, mouse would appear to be on the table in two Indian restaurants in Guernsey. The Guernsey Press reports of the closure of two Indian restaurants "after a string of hygiene problems". Pictures taken of the contamination include shots of a dead mouse, droppings and congealed dirt and grease.

The Environmental Health Office said: "I've had other establishments in Guernsey where there have been health problems. However, in these instances the problems have been very acute. On this occasion we had a number of issues that were brought together to make very poor standards and a definite risk of contamination and risk to public health generally.  It was particularly bad."

Meanwhile, there's a pay freeze being mooted for manual workers. They want a full, independent tribunal to set their wages. A minority have even threatened strike action.

The States, for their part, want to impose a wage freeze, while being happy to accept a pay rise of their own, tied to the movement in average wages. Writing in the Guernsey Press, columnist Peter Roffey says "I warned it would come back to bite them when they rejected a proposal to freeze their own pay just when they needed to severely restrict all other public-sector pay deals." Sounds familiar?

On the 16th May, the chief ministers of Guernsey and Jersey will be held one of their regular meetings in Guernsey today. Regular readers of the voting record will have noted "Out of Island" alongside Senator Ian Gorst's name recently, and now we know why. Whether it is proper for a States member to be absent during sessions of the States is a moot point; I do wonder why inter-Island meetings could not be scheduled for days when the States does not meet.

There was a call by the Chief Ministers for even greater unity between the islands, but this did not set any timeframe to establish a Channel Islands confederation. It seems clear that Peter Harwood, in particular, wants to increase working together without signing up to a particular ideology of confederation. He said that the move would take time, and needed to involve the backing of the other islands of Guernsey's Bailiwick.

Taking time was certainly the life choice of Thomas who died recently in Guernsey, aged 130. Thomas was a female tortoise, evidently named before her sex was determined. 130 years ago takes us back to 1883, which means that she survived the 2nd Boer War, the Great War, and the Second World War. She narrowly missed being hit by a bomb during the Blitz. Sadly, it was not old age but the infected bite of a rat which led to her death.

Delays are also hitting the buses. According to some users, there is little or no punctuality: "Revised routes were launched on Sunday but users have complained about the lack of clear information and late arrivals." Frank Villeneuve-Smith, communication director for the CT Plus, said delays were the result of an "unlucky inconvenience" as the new revised bus schedule launched in the same week as heavy road works. Jersey's new timetable has yet to be launched. Watch this space!

The business section of the Guernsey Press revealed some rather nasty mobile charges creeping up: "Commerce and Employment yesterday announced its plans to introduce legislation so it can charge 5% on all revenues earned by mobile operators from the use of spectrum. This is including, but not limited to, second-generation (2G), third-generation (3G), fourth-generation (4G) and fixed wireless access services" 

It is almost a foregone conclusion that any charges would end up hitting the pockets of the end consumer. Quite how this is justified is unclear, and one rather sarcastic commentator noted that "In a follow up statement, C & E. have announced plans to introduce a Spectrum tax for the general public, based on the amount of daylight absorbed into homes and the amount of fresh air breathed in by Guernsey residents per annum!"

And on a lighter note: "Legoland buildings and traffic lights all over the place - that's Guernsey, says Neil Ross' Emile. And how long before Sark has armed response tractors and horse drawn carriages with bullet-proof plating?"