Today has a guest post by an occasional contributor, Adam Gardiner:
Reflecting on 2013 by Adam Gardiner
A rather surreal year in many respects.
The referendum that never was. A complete shambles. Three options, or rather a pick-n-mix of half-baked ideas; a badly worded questionnaire generating a mere 26% turnout and delivering a confused result. While option B was declared the winner it hardly came with a mandate supporting change. and thus the States went into hurried debate and rejected it. Where this leaves us is still unclear but just like Simon Abbott it would make a good film plot – and talking of….
The film that may or, may not be. A year in which it was revealed that Economic Development had effectively given away £200k of public money to a film company as 'encouragement' to film in Jersey. Canbedone Productions – certainly have proved that Jersey can be done! And the prospects of it going ahead? The Minister, his CEO and Treasury are convinced it will despite the film now being renamed, it's producer never having successfully produced anything in particular and a director and leading role actor/actress who have 'yet to be announced'. Also as yet no extras recruited, no advance parties scouting out potential locations – in fact nothing so far to suggest that it will happen – save the words of assurance given by Mr Carvelle that have been so eagerly lapped up by Mike King and Alan Maclean. If the film does not roll, then heads must!
The new Coop HQ that was, then wasn't. So, pre-planning advice was sought and the scheme given a provisional thumbs up. However, the subsequent application was refused over concerns about it's size – 'a U-turn' say Coop CEO. Enter the 'heritage lobby' who produced their own plans and proposals in a bid to save 3 adjoining, but derelict, buildings thereby changing the issue from one of size to conservation. The Coop nonetheless revised their plans but the Minister referred them to PAP – and again it was refused. On a double-divi day too!
Yes we want to stem immigration, but then again, no we don't. The plan, a new Population Office whereby every resident is and will be eventually categorised - the triggers being change of job or address. In parallel the COM have budgeted upon an immigration growth rate of 350/year yet ignoring natural population growth – giving a figure more like 1,000 per year. Sadly another pick-n-mix of a policy. All in all the reality is that (a) its little more than revised version of housing control– but with knobs on – and (b) Jersey's population will continue to grow by around a 1,000 per year and (c) we will need an bigger civil service to administer it!
Suspension of the Dean. Where else but Jersey? Following allegations of mishandling a complaint from a vulnerable parishioner who claims to have been abused by a churchwarden, the Very Reverend Bob Keys was suspended from office. The island was embarked upon another muddled saga and produced a rather unholy mess! Ultimately it needed an apology, of sorts, from a Bishop to have the Dean reinstated. But it leaves behind a continuing sourness, allegations of cover-up, conspiracy and arguments that will run on for some time yet.
A nicely surreal moment comes from a JEP report:
"Deputy Rob Duhamel was guest speaker at the business group's (Chamber of Commerce) monthly lunch. But, instead of concentrating his 20 minute speech - in front of 250 business executives - on the economy and how the Planning department can help, he instead focused on the environment.
The minister talked of his admiration for Malmo in Sweden, which has championed concepts such as wind turbines, and residents designing their own neighbourhoods."
We already have 40+ wind turbines, thanks. You can see some of them most Tuesdays going through a door in the Royal Square. And as for residents designing their own neighbourhood……what? It takes 11 weeks and a fee of £600 just to get approval (or not as the case may be) for uPVC windows!