Monday, 21 October 2013

Norman Le Brocq: A Great Jerseyman

As I've been rather busy elsewhere of late, today's post is a crib from Wikipedia on Norman Le Brocq. I think I'm justified in putting it on my blog, because I created the Wikipedia page in 2007 and wrote the article myself! That was in fact long before most local blogs were started.
I remember chatting to Norman Le Brocq when the JDM ran the "St James Bookshop" on the opposite side of the road from St James' Church. As a natural bookworm, I gravitated to the bookshop frequently at lunchtime, and spent many a happy hour browsing.
Stella Perkins was also there from time to time instead of Norman, and we had a number of good conversations. There was a "Centre Point" charity collecting tin on the table because Chris Wakeham, another member of the JDM, had set up the charity, and I always put any loose change from the purchase of books in the tin.
From time to time, I would be browsing, while at the other end, Norman was quietly talking to people who had come to see him about problems; in its way, the bookshop acted as an informal drop-in town surgery, or a citizen's advice bureau.
I was very sad when it closed, and now I believe it is a hairdressers. It had a convivial atmosphere like most of the second hand book shops in St Helier. Hillgrove Books, Thesaurus are also sadly gone.
Norman was very much an outsider to the political establishment, but he was responsible for the first Island Plan, designating areas as green fields, brown field sites, or sites suitable for building. It was a great achievement, and all Islanders owe a debt of gratitude to him for steering that through the States.
Norman Le Brocq (1922 - 26 November 1996) 
He participated in the resistance to German occupation in the Second World War, and was one of the founding members of the Jersey Democratic Movement, a communist party, which by the end of the war in 1945 had grown to 18. The JDM helped to provide support, information and sustenance to the slave workers brought by the Germans over to Jersey from Russia. In 1966, Le Brocq and 19 other islanders were awarded gold watches by the Soviet Union as a sign of gratitude for their role in the resistance movement.
He was a campaigner for working class rights in the field of housing and social policy, and the Communist Party's leading figure in the Islands. After unsuccessful bids for election in the 1960s, he was elected to the States of Jersey in 1966, which was such a remarkable event that it was noted in the British press - "Working man joins the rulers of Jersey" (Observer 18.12.1966). He remained in the States as a Deputy for Saint Helier until his retirement.
He was president of the Island Development Committee (IDC) and instrumental in bringing in the first Island Plan, which laid out zones for housing and commercial development and green field sites on which development was not permitted. He was also chairman of the Sea Fisheries Advisory Committee, and a Sea Fisheries vessel is named after him.
Outside of the States, he was a director of the Channel Islands Co-operative Society for 35 years, and its President for 27 of those.
Social Policies
In "Jersey Looks Forward" (1946), he enumerated the political and social policies towards which he fought, many of which were later adopted by the States of Jersey. These included:
-          States members to receive adequate remuneration
-          A modern equitable divorce law
-          An augmented paid Police Force acting over the whole Island
-          Compulsory health insurance
-          Compulsory free education to the age of 16
-          A maximum working week
-          A minimum wage

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