Saturday, 31 May 2014

Paths of Glory

Today's poem is one about magic, deep in the heart of the forest, in a sacred grove, where fleeting glimpses of another world might cross over with outs.

Paths of Glory
Dark the forest, dark the night
Open space in ancient grove
Rays of glory, rays of light
Here the pagan treasure trove
Dark the night, comes the dawn
Rays of glory, rays of light
Dancing dryad, dancing faun
In the fairy circle bright
Comes the dawn, birds awake
Dancing dryad, dancing faun
Magic spell to cast and make
In their steps, a circle drawn
In paths of glory, by olden ways
Light the feet from ancient days

Friday, 30 May 2014

Stinking Bishop and a Wake Up Call

At the end of the Wallace and Gromit film, Wallace lies almost fatally dying after a fall until Gromit revives him with a sniff of "Stinking Bishop" cheese.

There was a degree of upset not unlike sniffing that cheese caused by the Anglican Bishop of Willesden, Greater London, England, putting a comment on Peter Ould's blog. In it, among other matters, Bishop Pete Broadbent commented on the case of HG, and "the dull and witless way that the Dean handled things"

As the BBC reported on the news story

"Bishop Peter Broadbent said there was not much "nice or defensible" about Jersey or its society. The Deputy Bishop of London has claimed Jersey was "in the grip of freemasonry" and that there was a "conspiracy of silence" on the island."

This is not the first occasion that the good Bishop has courted controversy, as at the occasion of Prince William's engagement to Kate Middleton in November 2010, he said that their marriage would last about seven years, and that he was sickened by the "fawning deferential nonsense" in the media coverage of the event, and wrote "We need a party in Calais for all good republicans who can't stand the nauseating tosh that surrounds this event. Need to work out what date in the spring or ­summer I should be booking my republican day trip France"

This was grist of course, to the Daily Mail, who while thundering forth in righteous indignation, must have been pleased to have a lurid headline to attract readers. But it was also reported on as far as the New York Daily Times, which reported his that he called Prince Charles and Princess Diana as "Big Ears and the Porcelain Doll"

The Peat Me blog commented that:

"The real problem is that again like many corporations the Church doesn't have a formal Social Media and Blogging policy - many organisations don't get one until something like this happens."

The author is not advocating a "gagging" policy, but notes that

"Swearing allegiance to the Queen and her heirs and successors, doesn't really sit well with referring to one of them as "Big Ears". When you accept the post of a Bishop you give up some of your freedom to express your own opinions, you become a Bishop of the Church of England, and there is an expectation that you'll toe the line. You have a lot of latitude to express your own opinions, but it's not unlimited."

And very sensibly noted that:

"You need be aware of what is public and what is private. Certainly in any public forum you need to be watching what you say, it's very easy to relax into thinking that you're having a private conversation when in fact anybody in the world can see it - that is precisely the trap Bishop Pete fell into. You can bleat about how unfair it is, but ultimately people know what the British press is like."

That is clearly still a lesson that has not been learnt properly by the Bishop, who also accused lay Jersey people involved in the dispute of being freemasons. As he probably has Sir Philip Bailhache in his sights, it is worth noting that a little research would have shown that Sir Philip is not a freemason, but is friendly towards freemasons, which is quite different. Freemasonry Today noted this in reporting on the official opening of a "garden for residents of Les Amis in St Saviour, Jersey, a charity associated with the local Mencap, has been provided by the island's freemasons from its 1999 and 2000 collections". It said: "Sir Philip Bailhache, Bailiff of Jersey, opened the garden. Although he is not a mason, his father and grandfather were, the latter being Deputy PGM between 1947 and 1959."

Sir Philip, of course, has a large degree of involvement in the dispute between the Bishop of Winchester and the Dean of Jersey, having written a letter to the Dean, and also being seen reviewing notes on the case in open view of a member of the public travelling on  the same flight as him, from which the fellow passenger was able to identify details of both the victim and alleged abuser in the suspension of the Dean's Commission case. Sir Philip responded to concerns expressed by the passenger in an email to Deputy Trevor Pitman that: "Taken in the round, it gives a fictitious and malicious account of my reading habits on aeroplanes and I am not going to be drawn further on this subject".

Bob Hill commented that "The exchanges that ensued could be akin to a playground spat whereby the bully whilst denying any wrongdoing called his accusers nasty names and impugned their integrity"

In the end, when it became apparent that the matter would not rest, Sir Philip eventually was further drawn on the subject and gave a grudging apology to the States: "Having had time to reflect, I am sorry that I used language that was stronger than was necessary or appropriate. I withdraw the phrase "fictitious and malicious" and would like to make it clear that I do not impute dishonesty or malice to Deputy Pitman's constituent or, for the avoidance of any doubt, to the Deputy himself."

When one read the BBC report - "The bishop also claimed Jersey's culture was difficult to change and that those that spoke out were silenced." - it is worth remembering the businessman (who made the complaint about Sir Philip Bailhache) was badly treated by Sir Philip's first reply, perhaps in a hope that this forceful and intemperate language would cause the matter to drop, in other words - to silence him when he had spoken out.

Even in this one case, there can be seen a degree of truth in the Bishop's accusations, although as Tim Nash rightly noted "To simply write off a whole society as one homogenous lump is stupid, unwise and ignorant. Jersey is a diverse place, despite its size."

But clearly those who wield more power have a greater need to cover up their mistakes, just as in the UK, and there is certainly a culture lacking in transparency with regard to the state of play between the Anglican Church in Jersey and the UK. Some people, for example, have called for the Korris report, which began this chain of events, to be removed from the Winchester diocese website.

Related to this, in 2013, as well as the Dame Heather Steel investigation, there was also a Church inquiry (Visitation), carried out by Bishop John Gladwin, to consider the wider implementation of safeguarding in Jersey and across the Diocese. The Winchester website reported that:

"Bishop Gladwin will be publishing his report on the Visitation later this year, providing recommendations for enhancing the Diocese's safeguarding policies and procedures."

"Bishop Gladwin's wide-ranging terms of reference include looking at the 'safeguarding' procedures in place in Jersey and 'clarifying' the Island's relationship with the Diocese of Winchester"(JEP)

This, one would imagine, would tackle the situation where, as the Korris report noted of the churchwarden at the centre of the complaints by HG:

"E.Y.'s behaviour towards women had been a matter of concern at St for some time with comments about it coming from various sources. In a telephone call to the Safeguarding Advisor  J.F. in December 2008 the Dean R.K. says that E.Y. had been spoken to about the fact he is too tactile, stands too close to women, touches too much/inappropriately. His manner was deemed to be inappropriate to such an extent that he was chaperoned within the church when in close proximity to women. This was an informal but explicit policy of the parish and at interview the Dean of Jersey acknowledged that it was known to him."

But the safeguarding issue - the remit of Bishop Gladwin - has been quietly shelved. No one is pressing for the release of the Gladwin report or its recommendations, which would, I hope, have prevented this kind of informal ad hoc practice going on. The Gladwin report was to examine the way the diocese protects members of its congregation. That should have been at the centre, but instead has been left on the margins. The question raised in the leader comment in the Guernsey Press has still not been answered: "Can there be any credible reason why Jersey does not demonstrate complete adherence to the safeguarding procedures put in place by the Diocese of Winchester?"

There has also  been a degree of silence on the Jersey side with the new agreement taking oversight to the Bishop of Dover. I would have expected the formal oversight agreement, which is very short, to be placed on church notice boards for the congregations to read, but this has not been the case.

There appears to have been a marked reluctance for this to be available (outside Peter Ould's), and the Dean only handed out copies to States members after the matter was raised in the States. This is an omission which does not further the cause of greater transparency and respect for Anglican congregations.

It makes me wonder if the Steel Report, if released to the Dean and the Island authorities, will be made available to more than a select coterie of lay people in Jersey. There seems to be too much of a command and control culture, and too little trust placed in the man or woman in the pew. In this respect, the Bishop of Willesden's examination of the Church of England (in far more sober language) on his blog is worth noting: "My concern is that we are still considering centralised solutions to the problems facing us, whereas it is clear that we are no longer living in an era where a command and control approach will work."

For the purpose of giving greater transparency, I have reprinted the wording of the agreement from Peter Ould's blog.

The original blog posting is here:


Text of Channel Islands Agreement

A reprint of the text of Channel Islands Agreement between the Anglican Deans of the Churches of the Channel Islands, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop of Winchester and Bishop of Dover.

This first appeared on the blog of Peter Ould, and can be referenced here:

March 2014

The Most Rev and Rt Hon Justin Portal Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and Metropolitan
The Rt Rev Timothy John Dakin, Bishop of Winchester
The Rt Rev Trevor Willmot, Bishop of Dover in Canterbury
The Very Rev Robert Key, Dean of Jersey
The Very Rev Paul Mellor, Dean of Guernsey

1. The Deaneries of Jersey and Guernsey are part of the Church of England by law established.

2. The Deanery of Jersey extends to the whole of the Bailliwick of Jersey, including its territorial sea and the Deanery of Guernsey extends to the whole of the Bailliwick of Guernsey, including its territorial sea.

3. Since law in council of her late majesty Queen Elizabeth I, dated 11th March 1569, ordinary jurisdiction and episcopal oversight in the islands has been provided by succesive Bishops of Winchester, and the Deaneries are annexed to and united with the Diocese of Winchester, without prejudice to the continuing exercise within the Deaneries of the jurisdiction exercised by the Dean of each respective Deanery.

4. The Canons of the Church of England in Jersey make provision for certain episcopal functions to be performed by, or on behalf of the Bishops, for the time being, of Winchester and are approved by her majesty in council 14 March 2012, and registered in Royal Court of Jersey on 23 March 2012.

5. Save as specifically enacted by schemes made under the provisions of the Channel Islands Church Legislation Measure 1931. The ecclesiastical and Canon Law affecting both Deaneries is contained in the traditions, charters, customs and protocols which attain in the relevant islands.

6. The position of the Deaneries in relation to the Diocese is to be reviewed as advised in this agreement.

7. Pending the outcome of such review, Episcopal Oversight of the Deaneries is to be exercised by the Bishop of Dover.
Now, it is hereby agreed and declared as follows,

The Bishop of Winchester,

(i) appoints the Bishop of Dover as an Assistant Bishop in the Diocese

(ii) delegates to him the Episcopal oversight and functions reserved to the Bishop of Winchester under Jersey Canons and the customs and protocols of the Deanery of Guernsey

(iii) delegates to him such other episcopal functions as may be assigned to the Bishop of Winchester in all other ecclesiastical legislation, canons, customs and protocols as may apply in the islands

The Bishop of Dover confirms he will exercise the episcopal functions delegated to him while in canonical obedience to the Archbishop of Canterbury and pay due regard to the provisions of the Jersey Canons and the other ecclesiastical canon laws, customs and protocols as pertain on the islands, and in such manner as will minimise administrative disruption and expense for Winchester and Canterbury.

The parties will work with the Archbishop of Canterbury in all respects to ensure that every part of the Church of England provides a safe environment for all person who worship in and are ministered to by our churches.
Recognising the ministry of the whole Church of England and the islands as part of it, the Deans of Jersey and Guernsey will use their best endeavours to encourage payment of the agreed parish share for 2014 on completion of this agreement to the Canterbury Diocesan Board of Finance.

The Archbishop, after consultation, will appoint a commission as to the legal relationship of the Church of England on the islands to the Church of England on the mainland, and make any recommendations for change that they consider necessary.

As witnessed

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Waste Not: Comments on the Waste Water Strategy Document

The "Waste Water strategy" document to be debated is lodged by the Council of Ministers. It is an example, for once, of real joined up work - the Treasury looking at the finance, Planning looking at the environmental needs, and Transport and Technical Services doing the basic spadework.
It has to be said that this is an excellent report, and the bulk of it is clearly the work of the team of Civil Servants at TTS, who have produced what is a model of detail and clarity. Anyone who simply wants to understand how the Island's waste systems operate, and their history, has only to read this report, where it is all encapsulated with the 109 pages.
The existing sewage treatment plant, as well as being particularly smelly in the Bellozane area from time to time, is basically the same one that was put into operation back in late 1950s for a population of 57,000, modified and marginally extended as time went on, and it really is fast approaching the end of its lifespan. The UV plant was upgraded in 2003 with self-cleaning and more energy efficient units with applied dose monitoring facilities. At present Bellozanne takes flow from a connected resident population of 85,000, which increases to a summer peak population of approximately 102,000.
When it was built, no one could have thought of almost a doubling of the Island population in the summer peak, and the increased demands on the infrastructure. That also leads to odours, and these have been partially mitigated by enclosing areas such as the sludge storage tanks and inlet works, with the air treated by way of odour control units. These works were implemented in 2008 but with limited success to date.
Water consumption can be lowered by the population using less, but an increasing population will always lead to more demands on the sewage system. As the report notes, "any additional loading as a result of an increase in the Island's population... will only result in a deterioration of the present situation."
This means that it is failing in many ways, which are injurious both to the environment, and potentially to public health. As the report notes, it fails "to achieve total nitrogen permit limit, and suffers from extensive biological foaming, a consequence of which is poor removal of suspended solids and lower bacteriological kill from the UV disinfection process". And a survey in 2008 also showed that "approximately 42% of the mechanical and electrical items were in very poor condition."
The existing sewage network needs re-examining as well. The older systems used to mix up ground water with waste water, and that was again fine for a small Island population. Pressure on the systems led to the cavern at Fort Regent, but there is still need for more to be done. At times of heavy rainfall the system is under increased pressure, and on occasion, outfalls of untreated sewage into the sea have taken place. As the report notes:
"In terms of effluent compliance, of particular concern is the fact that the existing plant discharges partially treated sewage, missing out on the secondary treatment process, on a regular basis. This is usually during storm conditions, which generate high flows to the works which are in excess of the full treatment capacity. As a result, discharge of partially treated sewage to the Bay also leads to a risk that public health will be adversely impacted. In 2010, this bypass procedure operated in storm conditions for periods totalling 130 days."
The new system proposed for Bellozane has to comply with the following very sensible criteria. It must be:
-          Flexible, in terms of adapting to potential increases or decreases in population or potential future changes to consent standards;
-          Sustainable, not only in terms of power usage, carbon footprint, etc., but also in terms of its effect on the wider environment;
-          Proven, in that the success of the process technology in achieving the required level of treatment is well known, widely used and understood; and
-          Affordable, not only in terms of capital cost, but also in terms of operating costs
As it has been reported, the States want to spend £75 million on improving the system. But against this must be the consideration that relatively little has been done to improve the system and bring it up to modern standards, as well as dealing adequately with the demands of an increased population.
Two Chief Ministers have come and gone, and I noted on my blog - back in 2008  -the Medical Officer of Health's report which called for:
"the early formulation of an Islandwide liquid waste strategy to determine the appropriate level of improvement and extension to the mains drainage network, along with an appropriately sized and located replacement for the Bellozanne sewage treatment plant". In January 2012, TTS were saying (on BBC News) that the works were 50 years old and " outdated and not up to current standards for pollutants, saying a new treatment works would be needed in the future."
Contingent planning has taken account of increases in the population, and also adjusted for a seasonal increase due to tourism, visiting friends and migrant workers. The new plant is looking at a population of 118,336 estimated for 2035, which includes these extra numbers, estimated at around 19,149 for a maximum adjustment. As the report notes, "it is considered advisable to provide flexibility in the design such that 118,000 is not an absolute limit but can be expanded with minimal cost in the future." Of course population measures in place may limit that, and I hope they do,  but it is surely prudent to allow for future growth rather than requiring the patchwork modifications of the current plant.
Another factor is climate change, which is another reason for a better sewage works, and also for looking at improved pumping systems, and waste water separation. The report notes that:
"The potential for climate change impacts on the Jersey sewerage network has not been fully assessed. It has been assumed that in common with the southern part of England climate change will lead to increases in the magnitude of storm events within the Strategy period. This will increase the waste water flows to be handled by the network, the pumping stations, the overflows and the STW. In the absence of detailed modelling of the assets, a simple general allowance for upsizing the assets as they are maintained / renewed has been made of 5% of the projected maintenance cost."
The sewage systems themselves need checking as an initial assessment has indicated that a substantial proportion of the existing sewerage network is already at capacity. This is being addressed by a scientific study of the patterns of flow. As the report notes:
"A programme is currently being implemented to investigate, locate and resolve the infiltration / inflow problems across the Island. By using a combination of pumping station telemetry data and in-sewer flow monitors, a systematic investigation is being undertaken to identify the location and severity of the problem so that suitable remedial measures can be carried out."
Back in 2008, when I was looking at the sewage system, I noted that "Biogas production from sewage sludge treatment, via a process called anaerobic digestion, is already a well established means of generating energy in the UK."
It was good to read that the proposed new plant incorporates this into its plan:
"The ongoing project to replace the sludge treatment facilities involves enhanced sludge treatment achieved by a pasteurisation process followed by anaerobic sludge digestion. Methane gas produced during the treatment process will be utilised for heating of the sludge and power generation to meet approximately a third of the power requirements for the new Sewage Treatment Works"

It appears that the Environment Minister, Deputy Duhamel, would prefer some alternatives, and, time allowing, I will look into those. It should be noted, however, that the proposed new sewage treatment facility does accord with EU regulations regarding the environment with regard to treatment and disposal of waste matter. It is an environmentally sound choice, even if some dissenters think there would be even better choices to be made.
As this States gradually comes to an end before September, and the run up to the October elections, it is perhaps worth looking at what the present Council of Ministers have achieved under Ian Gorst, and which was not achieved, and perhaps delayed or ignored under the somewhat slack leadership of his predecessor.
Of course, there have also been failings, not least with the Electoral Commission and Referendum, and virtually anything from Economic Development seems to be hedged around with the same vagueness and management speak that Jim Hacker of "Yes Minister" would be proud of.
But there seems less of a fortress mentality that I noted in the past, and more willingness for Ministers to work with backbenchers to agree propositions such as Montfort Tadier's recent one on Rental Housing Standards, working with the Housing Minister.
The Waste Strategy is certainly a fine legacy to present to the outgoing States. I was hugely impressed by it, as a model of clarity and facts.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Harold Le Seeleur: A Betrayal of Trust by the States?

For ages, the Le Seeleur buildings in St Helier have remained empty, as the terms of the original trust meant that the use was tightly restricted. Gradually they have fallen into decay, and only recently has scaffolding been erected, and the buildings restored to a better condition. The reason for this, as became apparent after a Ministerial decision by the Health Minister, Deputy Anne Pryke  - is that they are about to be sold.
"The Minister accepted the investment strategy and recommendations for the Le Seeleur Trust Property Assets as detailed in the report provided by Jersey Property Holdings (JPH). The Minister authorised JPH to implement the property recommendations which include the sale of the Oxford Road workshop and 9 Chevalier Road properties in the first instance. The Minister requested that the Treasurer invest the non-property (cash) assets of the fund in the Common Investment Fund."
Now one question which obviously springs to mind is about the capital generated by the sale of the properties. Is it better to use taxpayers money to repair the ravages of time and make the property available for sale, or would it have been better to sell it at a lower price, and let the buyer take on the task of refurbishment and repair?
How much, in fact, has been spent on repairing the building prior to sale? In April 1998, the Employment and Social Security Committee approved the principle of "buying" the property from the Le Seeleur Fund.
The property had been designated as a Site of Special Interest (SSI), and the requirements for the refurbishment as an SSI were quite onerous. The estimated cost of the proposed scheme of refurbishment at the time was in the order of £1.8 million. The Committee could not secure the funding to be able to proceed with the scheme.
But let's backtrack, and have some history on these buildings. They were given in trust to the States, and the restrictions on them are rather strange. As Deputy John  Le Fondré explained in 2010:
"The will of the late H.E. Le Seeleur requires that the States of Jersey consult with his executors on the use of the properties - this is the nub - with a particular view that the properties be used for the benefit of aged, infirm and needy residents of the Island. Therefore, any benefit from those properties should be for residents who are aged and infirm and needy. It cannot be for one or the other but must meet all 3 criteria, and that is one of the problems we faced in the history on this building."
"There are further features of the consequences that come out of this. The building cannot be handed over free gratis as a sheltered workshop, for example, because that would not meet the terms of the will. However, the properties could be used to generate a commercial return, for example, through rental or disposal, and that return can be used for the benefit of the aged, needy and infirm. For example, the property could be sold and the proceeds either reinvested to generate income or used for the benefit of the aged, needy and infirm."
Now note his reply - when he was Assistant Minister for Treasury and Resources - that the terms of the will allow for the building to be sold - "and the proceeds either reinvested to generate income or used ".
In other words, the sale of the property can generate funds, which can be more easily utilised that the buildings, but they must be earmarked "for the benefit of the aged, needy and infirm". Now there are people in the Community who certainly satisfy all three criteria, so there is certainly not the same impediment towards the use of the funds from a sale to improve their lot.
But now the Ministerial decision says: "The Minister requested that the Treasurer invest the non-property (cash) assets of the fund in the Common Investment Fund."
There does not seem to be anything about restrictions. In fact, it seems as if the whole terms of the will are being abrogated by this sale.
This is very different from the position taken by Senator Ben Shenton in 2007, when he commented as follows on a decision to sell (back then, but not coming to fruition):
"The Minister for Health and Social Services has given approval for Property Holdings to progress the disposal of the property on behalf of the Le Seeleur Fund, which wishes to invest the receipt from the sale of Le Seeleur Workshop together with other of its funds into another substantial property with a full rental income and which will provide benefit for health services that need to be provided for the aged, infirm and needy residents of the Island."
And he added this:
"It cannot be morally correct for the Le Seeleur Fund to be deprived of funding from properties which a previous decision of the States has placed within the administration of the Minister for Health and Social Services for the purposes intended by Mr. Le Seeleur.
Is this recent decision to sell, and place the funds from a sale of the property just into the general "pot" - the Common Investment Fund, a betrayal of the will of Harold Le Seeleur?

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Losing her Marples

I have never wholly taken to Geraldine McEwan in the title role of Agatha Christie's Marple. It is an odd title, anyway, and suggests that there might be other writers who have dabbled with the character - Barbara Cartland's Marple would surely have had enormous fake eyelashes, and been extremely pink and fluffy.
I think it is not so much McEwan, who is actually rather good, but the fact that so many of the stories bear only a tenuous relationship to the original books. The BBC's Miss Marple, with Joan Hickson, was a very faithful adaptation, but the ITV versions almost violate the trade's description act, as apart from the titles, very little remains of the original book, and it is often rewritten in quite extraordinary ways.
Nowhere was that more apparent than in "The Sittaford Mystery", which had an excellent cast, including Timothy Dalton and Mel Smith (very good in a straight part), with Robert Hardy doing a cameo turn at the start with Winston Churchill.
The snowbound nature of the location remains the same, but Inspector Narracott has vanished from the scene, and Miss Marple, who doesn't even feature in the original book, turns up to solve the case. And just in case you had read the story, the killer's identity is different from the one in the novel.
Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable way of spending an hour or so, as long as you put the original completely out of your mind, except for the plot point of the snow, which I am not going to explain here lest the reader has not read or seen this. Spoilers!
Of course, there is a strong tradition of straying from the plot. The Miss Marple films with Margaret Rutherford were often original creations, in which Margaret Rutherford would give her standard performance as Margaret Rutherford, and everyone would call her Miss Marple.  There were never any books on which "Murder Ahoy" was based, and "Murder at the Gallop" and "Murder Most Foul" were actually derived from Poirot stories.
I remember the reading some old film reviews which said that Margaret Rutherford bore a remarkable resemblance to Agatha Christie. I always remember thinking that Agatha Christie would have hated that comparison. I liked Rutherford very much in the VIPs, but she was altogether the wrong performer for Miss Marple, especially with her tendency to use gurning to convey emotions. And small and bird-like, she was most assuredly not!
The Mirror Crack'd, the film starring Angela Lansbury, had a decidedly odd Miss Marple, who actually smoked, something the original novels never did. The plot did follow the book quite faithfully, despite that. It was, like the near contemporary Poirot films "Murder on the Orient Express" and "Death on the Nile" done in a very Hollywood way, with pretty well all the main suspects played by well-known Hollywood stars. It was all a very glossy kind of fun.
The BBC adaptations are unusual, in that they represent a good attempt to remain faithful to the original stories, and usually did not rely on star names, but jobbing (but excellent) character actors, which made it more realistic, less glossy.
I think that, for me, Joan Hickson will be the definitive Miss Marple.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Jersey Historic Abuse Inquiry: Guest Posting

Today, with permission from Carrie Modral to re-post, I have a guest posting from her regarding the Jersey Historic Abuse Inquiry.

Jersey Historic Abuse Inquiry: Guest Posting
by Carrie Modral, Jersey Care Leavers Association

As most of you are aware, I have been actively campaigning for the last six and a half years for the right to justice for many people abused as children whilst in the care of the States of Jersey.
Myself and others have achieved so much over the last few years, putting pressure on our Government to pay compensation to the victims and to hold a Committee of Inquiry (COI) all of which have now (almost) been achieved.
Sadly, most of the victims will never get their day in Court and see their abusers put behind bars such is the Jersey way, but I am hoping and praying that the COI will be fully robust and expose the truth leaving no stone unturned!!
The child abuse investigation was hijacked and trashed to cover up Jersey's dark secrets and now is the time for anyone with any information to come forward and help to expose the truth for all to read. I have worked hard over the last few years,
I have been attacked relentlessly as have my fellow campaigners for daring to expose the truth and fighting for the rights of the abuse victims. Some people including some care leavers dislike me for what I have done and that is fine, this is an emotive subject, people don't want to hear about it over and over again especially the abuse victims where it drags up bad memories and I do understand that, I really do and I am truly sorry if I have hurt anyone by keeping this alive.
This is a plea for all abuse victims in Jersey to please come forward and tell your story to the COI. Each of you have a story to tell, let your story be heard and recorded in Jersey's history for all time! Please don't be nervous about coming forward, the team are compassionate and caring, they want to hear what you have to say and you can ask to remain anonymous. Each and every one of you are part of a big jigsaw, please help me to them to piece that jigsaw together and get the true picture.
If you know of abuse survivors, please persuade them to come forward, this cannot work without them. The enquiry team can be contact on free phone 0800 7350100 or alternatively, if you do not want to make contact yourself, Jill or myself at JCLA will do this for you and you need not be a member. The JCLA office is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday's between 9.30am and 1.30pm and can be contacted on 738351.
Events over the last couple of days have made me realise that my time is almost done now, I need to get on with my life and start the healing process for myself. This has consumed my life for many years, I really don't know how this is going to affect me once I do move on but little steps are all that any of us need when heading into the unknown!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

W H Auden: 1907-1973 Part 2

I've been trawling through the archives at the library again, and in particular for Sundays, "The Pilot" which was the monthly magazine for the Church of England in Jersey for many years. Every month, there would be pieces from the minister of each church, along with various other articles of interest.
In 1995, the Reverend Tony Keogh began a series of articles in "The Pilot" under the umbrella title "God and the Poets", and here is the part of his three part series on W.H. Auden. I thought it was a shame that it should be buried in the past, so I've transcribed it for my blog.
God and the Poets: W H Auden: 1907-1973 Part 2
By Tony Keogh
Wystan Hugh Auden was born at York on 21st February 1907, the third son of a physician who was also a classicist and an antiquarian. His mother, Constance Rosalie Bicknell, was the more powerful influence of his parents and long after her death in 1941, he would judge his actions and sentiments by whether or not they would have met with her approval. She was a devout Anglo-Catholic.
The Audens were of Icelandic descent and the sagas on which he was brought up greatly influenced all his writings. The name "Wystan" was of a Mercian prince, murdered in 849 after objecting to the marriage of his widowed mother to his uncle, contrary, to Canon law; Auden thought it very Hamlet-like. It was given to him partly because Auden's father had been educated at Repton where the parish church is dedicated to St Wystan.
The family moved to Birmingham when Wystan was a year old as his father was .appointed the Schools Medical Officer. After wartime service with the RAMC in some of the most dangerous theatres: of war, Dr Auden became part-time Professor of Public Health at Birmingham University.
Although Wystan spent five years at St Edmund's School, Hindhead, where he: first met his' lifelong friend Christopher Isherwood, he was never an English "southerner." The midlands and the north spoke to him much more than the trimmed lawns and leafy suburbs. The industrial devastation and the disused mines and. factories came to possess his imagination. As he wrote in a poem of the 1930s, "Letter to Lord Byron":
"Clearer than Scafell Pike, my heart has stamped on.
The view from Birmingham to Wolverhampton"
Limestone, .not chalk, was his landscape the Pennines, not the Downs his spiritual home. The poem, "In Praise of Limestone," written in 1948, his own favourite is, in some sense, a personal testimony: The landscape moves him as he gazes on it, but also because it symbolises his own temperament, inconstant: limestone dissolves in water and is secretive with its underground: streams and caves. The poem recalls that statues and fountains are made out of limestone rock, which reminds him that:
"The blessed will not care what angle
they are regarded from,
Having nothing to hide. "
Yet he ends, immediately after, with the supreme gift that limestone has bestowed on-`him:
"Dear, I know nothing of
Either, but when I try to imagine a faultless
Or the life to come, what I hear is the
murmur of underground streams, what I see
is a limestone landscape."
At thirteen, Auden went to Gresham's School at Holt in Norfolk. He was confirmed in 1920 and went through a period of Anglo-Catholic enthusiasm which, at Gresham's, he came to suspect as arising from "quite straightforward and unredeemed eroticism." Gresham's religion was "nothing but a vague: uplift, as flat as an old bottle of soda: water," while most who attended the Anglo-Catholic church in which his family worshipped at home seemed to him in some way handicapped, loving God because no-one else would love them. Christian images began to repel him when they did not seem risible. Yet he continued to go to church and loved .singing hymns as he did for the rest of his life. He left school, so he said, "a. confirmed anarchist individualist."
He began writing poetry whilst at school and his vocation suddenly dawned on him when a friend asked him what he did. He went up to Christ Church, Oxford, to read Natural Sciences but changed to English.
He had a famous conversation with the English don, Neville Coghill, the memory of which appalled him later:
"And what' are you going to do, Mr Auden, when you leave University?"
"I am going to be a poet."
"Well, in ... in that case you should find it very useful to have .read English."
(After a silence) "You don't understand, I am going to be a great poet.
Next month: W H.Auden's early career, the Spanish Civil War and his road back to Christianity.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Some comic poems

For today, some light hearted poems. UKIP are doing well, so they feature in this poem which has a surrealist twist at the end.

Euro voting

Election fever hits the streets
For all those funny old EU seats
And UKIP is trying, will they win
With Nigel Farage's beaming grin?
But the Green Party seems so small
Where did they go, how did they fall?
Cannibalism, I say, yes it is all true!
The Green party has so much to rue:
Every dinner, mothers have routines
Say to their children, eat the Greens!

And a pastiche of a nursery rhyme, on bankers - maybe they will be using this in nursery schools?

Hey diddle, diddle
The bonus and the fiddle
The banker was over the moon
The hedge manager laughed
To see such sport
But sub prime loans sank the tycoon

And finally, two clerihews, one after the Eurovision song contest:

The singer Conchita
Enjoyed eating a margarita
After winning the Eurovision contest
While so very elegantly dressed

And one about Winston Churchill

In the blitz, Winston Churchill
Was never dressed to kill
Instead, he wore an old boiler suit
Which was really quite astute

Friday, 23 May 2014

April Retrospective

Top of the April posts was "Harbour Dues", a guest posting on Rob Duhamel's suggestion to turn the Old Harbour into a communal swimming pool:
"We do need fresh ideas - and some States members seem bereft of any new ideas at all. I'm still trying to think of any ideas, propositions, or questions asked by Deputy Susie Pinel of St Clement, or for that matter, if she has ever spoken in any debate. St Clement seems to have a tradition of electing "trappist" deputies - her predecessor, Ann Dupre was also taciturn, and I knew a Deputy in the 1970s who never spoke once during his entire time in the States, although he was a very nice chap. "
"But ideas need testing as well, and preferably by the individual proposing them. If they survive critical scrutiny, then they are worth while. If this has not been done, don't release it to the public." 
"Dear Fellow Resident" looked at a letter sent out regarding meeting called by John Young about development in St Brelade's bay, and was resolutely against any extra curtailment over and above current planning policy. The mood of the meeting that I attended was very much in favour of improved protection for the bay, and the anonymous writer - described as "bad form" for not signing his letter by Deputy Tadier - did not come forward to restated their views. But they may have led to a backlash of 75 people or so who did attend!
"What else is notable about this letter? It is anonymous. It has been put through the letterbox of residents living in St Brelade's Bay, but the writer clearly wishes not to be known. One has to ask why. Is it because they are planning a development of the kind that residents might well oppose, and don't wish to be identified? Is it because they are already the subject of criticism for a new development within the Bay? Either way, it seems very cowardly to take pot-shots at Deputy Young, and not reveal who you are."
"Saturday Limericks" from March was still in the top ratings. For those who missed them, here are links to all the limerick related posts, after one example of the genre:
There once was an MP called Tony Benn
Who preferred not a sword but a pen
There were Diaries that he wrote
And he often did vote
Until he scribbled the final Amen
"The Jersey Goons How" was a marvellous guest post looking at a reimagining of the "Goon Show" with States members as characters from the Radio show:
"Election for Chief Minister: Some Comments"
This was a 2011 posting about elections for Chief Minister at a time when they were elected by behind the scenes "horse trading", and before former Deputy Trevor Pitman had made the old secret ballot into an open one, which allowed the public to see who voted for whom. Fortunately, this proposition was passed, and the bad old days of secret backroom deals could not be hidden from the public gaze in the final vote.
"Presidential Politics"
This was a very critical posting about two proposals, one on the powers of the Chief Minister, and one on differential pay.
"The reality is that the current single-level salary is not commensurate with levels of remuneration for similar senior posts available in the private or not-for-profit sectors" says Philip Ozouf.
When I read that, I think of the "Yes Prime Minister" episode "A Real Partnership":
Hacker: Where's the one-page summary for the Cabinet?
Sir Humphrey: The Janet and John bit? Here it is. It's more or less the same as last time. Comparable jobs in industry.
Hacker: On whose salary are the comparisons based?
Sir Humphrey: The directors of BP and IBM, naturally.
Hacker: You don't think that might be challenged as untypical and above average?
Sir Humphrey: No. Of course, we don't mention them by name. Just ''typical industrial firms''.
Or indeed, in Philip Ozouf's phrase "similar senior posts available in the private sector"!
Growing up with the Doctor - Part 7
An autobiographical look at my own life, and the time of the Seventh Doctor Who, Sylvestor McCoy.
DOCTOR: There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep, and the rivers dream. People made of smoke, and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice, and somewhere else the tea's getting cold.
The Bald Truth: A Global Brand
Still holding its own, a look at "The Bald Truth" on Blogs and Twitter - all the other "Bald Truths" apart from Trevor Pitman that exist in the world.
The Bald Truth, @thebaldtruth
"I talk about things that matter (i.e., politics and Pittsburgh sports). Pittsburgh, PA"
Alfred Tennyson, 1809-92: Part IV: Conclusion
Tony Keogh's excellent look at Tennyson. I've put all the other links below too:
Guernsey Holiday
A narrative poem about a recent trip to Guernsey.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Equality in Communication for All: A Personal Note

This week is Deaf Awareness week, with it's theme -"Equality in Communication for All"

"This Deaf Awareness Week you may be asking - what is deaf awareness? It's about 'promoting the positive aspects of deafness', to 'promote social inclusion' and raise awareness to all the organisations that support the week."

"Most importantly it's about helping people that are deaf.   When asked what deaf awareness meant for them, one person said: 'I want my family to include me in their conversations.'  This really got to me and emphasised how important this is to tackle."

"Do you know that 15% of the population are deaf to some extent?   Out of every 10,000 people, ten will be extremely deaf and 100 will be partially deaf."

This is a good link about the week:

A Personal Note on Hearing Loss

On a personal note, my hearing loss is hereditary, and I think it is a condition caused otosclerosis, which caused a substantial deterioration in my hearing during my late 30s.

I used for a time at work to have great anxiety about speaking to clients, because I could often not easily hear them. "I'm sorry, I can't hear you properly, could you speak up a bit please", I would often say, and so they would for a sentence or two, and then reduce their volume so that it was semi-audible again.

Fortunately, my boss took steps to remedy this by getting me a telephone with a volume boost, and extra volume control. This was brilliant, and I no longer had to strain to try and work out what people were saying. For the most part, I no longer have any problems with speaking to people on the office telephone. My mobile phone is more primitive regarding volume, and sometimes I have problems, but not with most people.

I have two hearing aids, one for each ear, and they are vastly better than the ones I was first given, which more or less just boosted the volume. It was an analogue system. It was fine for internal environments, but outside, in the streets of St Helier, traffic was very loud, and if windy, the wind noise caught in it and was amplified, rendering it largely useless.

The modern digital hearing aid is connected to a computer, a sound profile (it probably has a technical name) is made for each ear of the frequencies you can hear, and how loud each has to be to hear it, and the software programs the hearing aid so that the frequencies are all raised by different levels according to how little I can hear each one. The end result is a much more even hearing experience. The wind, while it can affect hearing if strong, is not so much a problem. Nor is traffic noise.

I don't usually wear them at work. There's a lot of extraneous noise in the office, such as a photocopier close by, and I can hear that well enough without hearing aids. I keep them close to hand, unlike the deaf lady in Fawlty Towers, so that I have them ready if someone wants to speak with me.

It is amazing how different voices are. Some people, even with a hearing aid, are difficult to hear. The level of their voice and the frequencies range they speak on is just not good for me to hear them. Other people can be heard relatively easily even without a hearing aid.

The barber must think me very taciturn. When I go to get my hair cut, I take out my hearing aids, and so of course, the usual banter which people have in a barber's shop is mostly difficult if not impossible for me; it is certainly a strain.

Even with hearing aids, one thing I cannot easily do because of my hearing loss is triangulate sounds easily. People with good hearing can usually tell where a noise is coming from. I can, provided I am almost on top of the sound, or the sound is loud enough. But sometimes a sound appears to come from behind me, when it is in fact in front of me.

I have found that compensate a lot with sight. Because of the nature of my hearing loss, my balance is not brilliant, and I would be wary of riding a bicycle again after so many years. If I close my eyes, I find it very difficult to keep my balance well, but with my eyes open, I can balance without trouble.

Sight also plays a part in understanding people. My hearing aid will boost a speaker's voice, but my listening can be improved and enhanced by watching their lips move. It is not lip reading as such, but I have found that the way words are shaped, coupled with the words I can hear, improves the quality of my hearing considerably.

I find something very similar when watching TV, and subtitles are available. I can turn the volume on the TV down considerably because I can convert the not well heard words into well heard words by being able to read them at the same time. That works very well. I really find subtitles very useful indeed.

One of the oddest things about hearing loss is the way in which the brain compensates for the deficiencies of hearing. Sometimes when I am not concentrating enough, the person is far away, or I have not got my hearing aid in, I will hear them say something which seems very odd, but seems a clear as a bell. It is my brain filling in the gaps, sometimes to rather surrealist effect. Many people have noticed that the TV news subtitles sometimes get the words totally wrong - my hearing is sometimes like that.

Coughs and colds can be troublesome, as they increase hearing loss sometimes below the threshold at which it is easy to hear, even with a hearing aid. Sometimes, if there is a hearing infection, it is not possible to use a hearing aid at all. The world becomes much more silent.

Busy restaurants can be a problem, as it is sometimes very difficult to carry on a conversation except with people directly to your left or right. Talking and listening to people opposite you can be next to impossible. Background noise is also boosted, though not as badly as with the analogue aids I began with.

When they are used, hearing loop systems can be very good indeed. They are certainly far better than listening to a voice boosted by a microphone, with the sound travelling some distance across a room. I went last year to a recital by a performance poet (the brilliant Matt Harvey) held at St Aubin on the Hill Church, and the acoustics, even with a microphone were poor, and a strain to listen even with my hearing aid. I switched the hearing aids to the hearing loop system, and was able to relax and enjoy his wonderfully funny poems without effort.

Around 2006, I think, I had not been for a hearing assessment for around ten years. I went along, expecting the worst, but in fact there had been negligible deterioration in my hearing. So far, every two years I have been for a re-assessment and the hearing loss still seems to have slowed down or halted. I expect that age will bring some increase, but I hope not as sharply as in my late 30s.

I was reading an article about Bill Oddie, how his hearing loss meant he could not hear his beloved birds. Hearing aids have now enabled him to hear birdsong again. I can also hear birdsong well with hearing aids, and I can understand his joy at hearing birdsong once more, because I have experienced that myself.

I am very fortunate, I am not totally deaf, and the nature of my hearing loss means that hearing aids work well with me. I can still enjoy music, radio, conversation, birdsong, and a wide range of sounds, even if I know there are limitations that I have to work within.

To be stone deaf, or very profoundly dead, must be to inhabit a very different world. Labour politician Jack Ashley became completely deaf after a minor operation, aged just 45. He described the event as "rather like being struck by lightning". He wrote this in his autobiography, "Acts of Defiance":

"No one can reasonably expect the public to understand total deafness. I am sometimes bewildered by it myself. But with the right kind of help, a person deprived of all hearing can still get by. What matters is the support they get, the attitude of people, and, above all, their own determination. These are the means of escape from the apparently inescapable and rejoining society."

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

The States Debate Power and Pay

After a marathon run of States sittings, the proposition giving the Chief Minister the right to fire his ministers and to set up new ministries has just been passed. However, the States retain the right to nominate alternative candidates to those of the Chief Minister, so a degree of balance has been retained.
It is interesting to speculate what would happen if a Chief Minister fired a Minister, but the States nominated him for the post, and he was re-elected. Presumably, while in principle the Chief Minister could sack him again, it would be unlikely.
Of course, the method in the past, as with Stuart Syvret, was for a vote for dismissal to be brought as a proposition and debated by the whole House. As they voted him out of office, it would have been unlikely that in the new situation, he would have received enough support to win a re-nomination.
But the case of Rob Duhamel is interesting, as it seems as if members of the House, and the Council of Ministers, were quite divided over whether he should go. Indeed, it was the split within the Council of Ministers which led to negotiations, and a rapprochement between Chief Minister and Planning Minister, with the consequent withdrawal of the proposition.
The question is what difference collective responsibility would make. If  a majority in the Council of Ministers, even a slender one, supported the Chief Minister's removal of a Minister from office, would the dissenting voices be silenced? Under collective responsibility all ministers must support cabinet decisions, although I understand there are caveats for matters of conscience.
Fortunately, politicians voted 23 in favour to 20 against the proposal for extra pay for Ministers. Coupled with the increase in the Chief Minister's powers, Sam Mezec was quite right to point out the dangers:
"Not only will ministers lose their title and position if they don't toe the line, they will also lose a large part of their salary."
Apparently Senator Ozouf said the change would not mean ministers suddenly got more pay, it would be down to the remuneration body to decide if they deserved more money. Given the imbalance in the membership of the remuneration body - all retired high-earners - and their past decisions, I shudder to think what they would decide.
Politicians in the island are paid £42,600 a year and are able to claim up to £4,000 in expenses. Their salary is set by an independent remuneration body. The BBC report listed UK MPs salaries, which are considerably higher (basic pay £ £67,060), but for some reason didn't give the closest comparison, which would surely be Guernsey politicians, who have similar responsibilities and workload.
Guernsey politicians are paid far less than Jersey ones, and while pay is extra for Ministers, which would make Senator Ozouf very happy, Ministers now get £46,364.
The pay scales in 2012 (before a recent increase this year) were as follows:
Chief Minister................................£ 61,520 - 00
Deputy Chief Minister....................£ 48,450 - 00
Minister........................................£ 46,350 - 00
Chairman .....................................£ 39,570 - 00
Deputy Minister & Vice Chairman...£ 36,550 - 00
States Member..............................£ 34,155 - 00
Minister Kevin Stewart said of a recent 3.2% pay rise that: "I work bloody hard for the money, quite frankly..When I became a deputy I knew what the pay offer was and I'm entitled to take it, like any other job - I don't have another job and I work more than 50 hours per week."
Now if Guernsey Ministers work as hard as their Jersey counterparts for around the same , perhaps the proposition on the pay differential should have been to reduce backbenchers pay instead of increasing Ministerial pay. I don't somehow think there will be any takers for that view, surprisingly!
And finally, an interesting quote from an interview with Tony Benn about how to both work within collective responsibility, and raise issues and differences of opinion from it:
Iain Dale: It's difficult as a Minister, when you are bound by collective responsibility, to drive forward an individual agenda. You are always compromised by the system.
Tony Benn: Not really. I developed a way of dealing with that. I realized that collective responsibility applied to the present Parliament, so I would say "looking ahead ten years this is what we will have to think about." so I could open up a whole area. They couldn't get me on that. I would also say "I'm getting an awful lot of letters at the moment saying this, that or the other." It didn't please colleagues but I think that on the whole a government where it is known there is a debate going on is more credible than the pretence of unanimity. The idea that a Cabinet is unanimous on every issue isn't true and everybody knows it isn't true.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Could it be time the JDC curtailed its lofty ambitions?

The Jersey Evening Post's online website no longer prints any selection of "Letters to the Editor", which is a shame, because there are some very good ones. To take care of this hiatus, I will repost occasional letters on this blog. This excellent letter, which deserves a wider audience, is by Dave Cabeldu.
Readers may also be interested in my yesterday's post looking at the Financial Statements of the JDC.
Could it be time the JDC curtailed its lofty ambitions?
From Dave Cabeldu.
HAVING followed with interest the saga of the future of the Esplanade car park as planned by the States of Jersey Development Company since their formation in June 2011, and on listening to the facts emerging at the States debate following a proposition brought by Senator Alan Breckon in March of this year, I became intrigued as to what this company was about.
The answer is interesting and muddled.
JDC was itself a result of an attempt to clarify responsibilities and accountabilities surrounding the development of publicly-owned property and thereby improve its transparency. It would also relieve the States Assembly of having to be party to each and every decision taken about it. In short, JDC, which is owned by the States, but operates as, a separate legal entity outside the States, would take over responsibility for the development of publicly-owned land and buildings. As such, it would have its own board of directors and would be able, without continual reference to the States, to buy, sell and develop property
This well intentioned rationalisation, however, had a flaw which very soon became evident. Although the legal entity could now get on with its business alone, it was a fully owned subsidiary of the States and there were only two shareholders; the States Greffier with 19,999,999 shares and the Treasury Minister with one share. In accordance with precedence, the former did not exercise his rights so that, in effect, the latter became, de facto, the only link between JDC and the States.
Senator Philip Ozouf, the current Treasury Minister, contrary to the stated requirement to do so, has not shared JDC's business plans with the Assembly. The States has thus sleep-walked itself unwittingly into a very precarious situation since both planning and implementation for all this has effectively been transferred to one person, Accountability for performance is unclear.
From a starting point of being. given the Esplanade car park for a nominal price of £1, with its income of £759,000 per annum, this company has an. enviable advantage that no other company does, To date £4m has been spent on the Esplanade proposals without a penny of income yet being evident anywhere on the horizon. The JDC directors have received emoluments of £400,000 in salaries plus 142,000 in bonuses!
The board of directors is headed by Mark Boleat, a highly respected City of London financier and he, together with Senator Ozouf have, almost to the exclusion of all other States building projects, been directing JDC's efforts and resources towards the highly controversial creation of a massive office development sited on the Esplanade car park.
The only real financial information that is available to the States and the public comes from JDC's annual financial statements which, by law, have to be published within six months of their financial year-end (i.e. after the horse has bolted), but JDC does not even set these out so as to indicate the financial status of their most important project. Furthermore, the public are not invited (or allowed) to attend the AGM to raise questions as to how JDC's investment of public resources has been used and to form a judgment on the directors' emoluments. The only attendees are the company's board and the two above-mentioned shareholders.
The decision of the Royal Bank of Canada to go with alternative and proven private developers surely signals that the International Finance Centre as promoted will not be viable, and the availability of other already approved `Grade A premium office space coming on stream will soak up any other prospective tenants. Could it be that it is now time for the JDC to curtail its ambitions as developers for the finance sector and place greater emphasis on matters which will have more benefit for the public who are increasingly alarmed at seeing their savings being frittered away?

Monday, 19 May 2014

States of Jersey Development Company: Review of Accounts

I've been perusing the accounts of the States of Jersey Development Company, and some interesting figures emerge.
The executive directors, Lee Henry and Simon Neal each got a bonus, respectively of £29,000 and £13,000. Lee Henry's base salary is not insignificant - it is £155,000 with £1,427 extra in benefits.
Of the non-executive Directors, Mark Boleat gets the lion's share of £40,000 per annum, while the other four get £15,000 each. The proposition appointing them and it reveals that:
Chairman - £40,000 for 24 days' commitment per annum - that is £1,666 per day.
Non-Executive Directors - £15,000 for 15 days' commitment per annum - that is £1,000 per day.
I am sure they give good value for money, but it would be good to have a few more details about what they actually do. The actual proposition re-appointing them tells us nothing much at all:
"The Minister is advised that the Non-Executive Directors continue to provide relevant experience and strong leadership and oversight of the company, in order to ensure it operates within the agreed policies of the States and delivers projects aligned with the needs of the Island."

Perhaps if the Minutes of their meetings could be made public at some time, this would be useful. Obviously, there may be commercially sensitive information in that, but I would have thought that a moratorium of five years would be sufficient. After all, this is a company acting on behalf of the public.
However, we do have this information in the notes:
"Risk management is carried out by the Executive Directors under policies approved by the Board of Directors"
This involves Credit Risk: "Credit risk is the risk that one party to a financial instrument wiull cause a financial loss for the other party by failing to discharge an obligation""
That makes it all the more surprising that Harcourt Developments situation is covered in a note called "Legal Action" which states that the Company will defend the action, and moreover "The Directors do not consider any liability will arise from this action". Indeed! If nothing else, there may well be considerable legal costs. Given the Court case with Harcourt, is it good "oversight" and advice by these well-paid non-Executive Directors to suggest that no provision be made for legal costs?
A dividend has been returned to the States of £816,400 for the past two years, an improvement on the Waterfront Enterprise Board, which returned none at all during its lifespan.
But this is not the whole picture. As the notes tell us, the SOJDC receives rental income from the States of Jersey for Liberation Station of £78,889, which is money flowing from the States back to the company at market rates. And for a licence to operate the Esplanade Car Park, they receive £759,000 from the States of Jersey. That totals £837,889 making a net flow from the States to the SOJDC of £21,489.  It is a crazy looking glass world!
Perhaps they might consider smaller bonuses for the directors, and more dividends remitted to the States of Jersey, so that the net flow would at least break even!
Certainly the statement by Lee Henry - 'It remains the position today based on independent professional advice that the JIFC scheme will generate a net return in the order of £50 million for the public.' - begs the question - when?
Based on current and past returns, money tends to be swallowed up by the Jersey Development Company, and I, for one, have little optimism about any returns even if the scheme does prove successful.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

W H Auden: 1907-1973 Part 1

I've been trawling through the archives at the library again, and in particular for Sundays, "The Pilot" which was the monthly magazine for the Church of England in Jersey for many years. Every month, there would be pieces from the minister of each church, along with various other articles of interest.

In 1995, the Reverend Tony Keogh began a series of articles in "The Pilot" under the umbrella title "God and the Poets", and here is the part of his three part series on W.H. Auden. I thought it was a shame that it should be buried in the past, so I've transcribed it for my blog.

God and the Poets: W H Auden: 1907-1973 Part 1
By Tony Keogh

W.H. Auden was a man who "inspired" love. Everyone who met him spoke of his kindness, generosity and humility. He was not only a poet but a writer of plays and prose. His literary criticism and his lectures reveal one of the finest Christian minds of his generation, yet in him was the enigma of the human condition. How can such heavenly gifts be-found in so earthy and human a body, for one cannot avoid the more sordid aspects of his life.

The Protestant work ethic was at the heart of the man; he had a fetish for punctuality and the ordered day, his output was prodigious - to quote Stephen Spender, he was "untidy, untied up, short-sighted. He drank too much for many years and at the last; crawled around in carpet slippers (he suffered from corns) and ragged clothes, never without a cigarette between his lips, his once fair and pallid face rugged.

Henry Moore described his face thus, "... its deep furrows like: plough marks, crossing a field:" Spender again, "He was more unrecognisably different when old from when young than most people." He was homosexual and knew agonies of love which are perhaps especially acute for that orientation, though for the: last thirty-four years of his life, he had a permanent relationship with Chester Kallman who, among other things, taught-him to love opera, and became his collaborator as librettist and one of the two men - Christopher Isherwood was the other - who could criticise his work without causing pain.. Whatever else the relationship gave him, it certainly gave him security.

In. his inaugural lecture .as Professor of Poetry at Oxford, in 1956, Auden maintained that. "knowledge of an. artist's life, temperament and opinions is unimportant to an. understanding of his work". This may be disputed, though it is possible for an understanding of the work to be perverted by too prurient an interest in the private life.

Many of the artistically inclined live simultaneously in higher and lower worlds and although the latter may take over: and lay a trail of wastage and destruction, it is not always so, although it does seem to be a constant theme of recent biographers. We have discovered in recent years that Einstein was a wife beater, Churchill a racist, Larkin a porn enthusiast and, recently, Grahame Greene: has been shown to have been a somewhat bizarre adulterer. At the end of it all, though, it does seem almost sinful to allow the glory of a batsman's innings, full of wondrous strokes, to be marred in our minds: by the awareness; painful to the moralist as this may be, that he maybe a womaniser or over addicted to whisky; and we should not always be looking for an author's autobiography in his work.

In the next two articles, we will look at Auden's writing and the Christian Faith which suffused the last half of his life... We may heed lines from the final stanza of Auden's poem, "At the Grave of Henry James" with which Humphrey Carpenter concludes his biography:

"There are many whose works
Are in better taste than their lives. "

Saturday, 17 May 2014


Today's poem is an experimental poem which I have written along the style of William Carlos Williams (1883 - 1963), and in particular, his poem "A Goodnight".

Wave pieced, the surfer falls
hark, the seagull calls! calls!
the undercurrents flow fast
deep below the tallest mast
rotting wood, ancient wreck
the boy stood on the burning deck
recite in school, teacher frowns
mortar boards, academic gowns
to tell the tale of the sea, the shore
Hollywood mood music, a score
of notes to lift the tale, add mood
the semi-naked mermaid, rude
some would say, puritans, bad
bowdlerised verse is so, so sad
and I like the salty tang, the spice
tropical lands, rum laced with ice
treasure island, island in the sun
memories stream forth in fun

Friday, 16 May 2014

Footprints in the Sand Blessing

I've been asked to mention an event happening this afternoon, and am very pleased to do so.
On Friday 16th May at 2.00 p.m. the Reverend Mark Bond and Connétable Steve Pallet will lead the ceremony to bless 'the footprints in the sand', which have been imprinted on the granite as part of the work undertaken in St. Aubin.
The footprints have been imprinted in gold, and with sand from St. Aubin's beach. They 'walk' to the Caring Hands charity post box and are there as a symbol and reminder that nobody has to be alone, as well as serving as testament to the Parish of St. Brelade and the People of Jersey.
Refreshments will be served at Murray's after the blessing and all are welcome.
Footprints in the Sand
One night a man had a dream.
He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Scenes from his life flashed across the sky
and he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
one belonging to him and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of his life had flashed before him,
he recalled that at the lowest and saddest times of his life
there was only one set of footprints.
Dismayed, he asked, "Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you,
you'd walk with me all the way.
I don't understand why, when I needed you most,
you would leave me."
The Lord replied, "My precious child.
I love you and I would never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffering
when you saw only one set of footprints...
That was when I carried you."
(anonymous, authorship disputed)
On the original source of the poem, see:

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Doctor Who: Assessing the Pertwee Era

When Doctor Who was grounded
The "Horror Channel" has been showing repeats of old Dr Who episodes, mainly at the moment from Jon Pertwee's tenure as Doctor Who. These are:
Terror of the Autons
The Daemons
The Sea Devils
The Three Doctors
Planet of the Daleks
The Green Death
With the exception of "Planet of the Daleks", they all are grounded on earth, even when the Doctor gets his freedom to travel.
One of the most notable features of that are the opening shots, which are invariably a location shoot of some kind. Hence we have a circus, a village church, a boat crossing the sea, a weather balloon by a reservoir, and a disused mine shaft.
"A little man in a bowler hat watches the customers enter the big top of the International Circus. He walks round the back, past the lion's cage and finds a quiet spot to light up a small cigar. We hear the sound of the Tardis materialising and a motor horse box suddenly appears in the open ground before him. Agog, the man walks over and looks round it while a trim man in black suit and gloves, and with a neat beard gets out." (Terror of the Autons)
"It is a dark and stormy night. The quiet village of Aldbourne in Wiltshire pretends to be Devil's End, with an appropriate eerie howling wind and thunderstorm. Lightning briefly the church illuminates the over the green as the public house, the Cloven Hoof, turns out its last customers, a man and his dog into the storm." (The Daemons)
The Doctor and Jo are being ferried to a small island in a small boat.
ROBBINS: That's it over there.
(The Doctor looks through a pair of binoculars at what is really Norris Castle on the Isle of Wight.)
DOCTOR: There you are, Jo. That's the Master's permanent residence from now on.
JO: Well, let's hope he's still there.
(The Sea Devils)
"A long, silver weather balloon has brought its payload to earth by the edge of a lake, and a man carrying a shotgun finds it. Meanwhile, a Land Rover comes over the bridge at the entrance to the Minsbridge Wild Life Sanctuary and heads for the warden's lodge. A woman comes out to meet it" (The Three Doctors)
"Llanfairfach colliery has been closed, says the notice on the gate, but underground a scared man is making his way along one of the worked out roadways. Welcome to post industrial Glamorgan, everyone." (The Green Death)
Even if some of the story plays out on studio sets, the location element is important for grounding the narrative in the world we are all familiar with. An alien jungle in Planet of the Daleks is not as convincing as a village and church for making the viewer suspend belief.
It is when the narrative is framed in the everyday, the ordinary, the commonplace, that the science fiction element becomes a greater menace. Jon Pertwee famously talked how aliens on an alien planet were not as scary as a yeti in "Tooting Bec", but he hit the nail on the head.
C.S. Lewis said that Alice must be an ordinary little girl, or the impact of the extraordinary world she finds herself in would not carry the same dramatic power. With Doctor Who, this is reversed. The alien intrusion is extraordinary, but it is grounded in an ordinary world.
Morality and the Daleks
"Planet of the Daleks" contains quite a few of Terry Nation's mini-sermons about war and peace. It is this, as much as the plot itself, which gives Pertwee's Doctor some depth of character. He is not just a man of action, he is also a man of wisdom, dispensing words of advice when needed. Here are a few of the best vignettes, which I really like.
The Dalek is held up as ruthless, not prone to human weakness. Nation evidently was drawing on the Second World War, and the Nazis in their creation. There is no place in the Nazi war machine for human frailty.
DOCTOR: The load getting a little heavy?
TARON: I don't think I'm equipped to handle all this any more.
DOCTOR: Oh, why? Just because you've found out that you're not made of stone?
TARON: This job doesn't allow for human weakness.
DOCTOR: Then they should have sent a machine, shouldn't they.
TARON: I thought they had. I was wrong.
DOCTOR: Good, because the business of command is not for a machine, is it? The moment that we forget that we're dealing with people, then we're no better off than the machines that we came here to destroy. When we start acting and thinking like the Daleks, Taron, the battle is lost.
And on the same lines, when the Doctor speaks out bravery and courage, this is not a question of discipline and skill, although they can help. But that are nothing to do with courage. The really brave person is the one who is terrified, but still does what has to be done.
CODAL: Bravery? I've been terrified ever since I landed on this planet. It's different for Taron and Vaber, they're professionals. They've seen action before.
DOCTOR: And do you think they're any the less brave because of that?
CODAL: They know how to deal with fear. They're used to living close to death. I'm not. I'm a scientist, not an adventurer.
DOCTOR: Well, forgive me if I'm wrong, but aren't you a volunteer?
DOCTOR: Then you must have known what you were getting into?
CODAL: No. None of us did. We're not a warlike people, Doctor. We've only just developed space flight. No one had attempted a voyage of this length before, but every man and woman from my division volunteered. Over six hundred of them. You see, I didn't even have the courage to be the odd man out. What are you laughing at?
DOCTOR: Ah, you, my friend. You may be a very brilliant scientist but you have very little understanding of people, particularly yourself. Courage isn't just a matter of not being frightened, you know.
CODAL: What is it, then?
DOCTOR: It's being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway, just as you did.
And finally, when the Thals have succeeding, and are about the leave the planet, the Doctor reminds them that they should also remember the cost of war. In a way, it is a rejoinder to those who criticise commemoration of the war dead. Remembrance Day is thinking of the fallen, and the cost of warfare; it is not a glorification of war.
TARON: Doctor, we'd never have succeeded without all your help. I wish there was some way of thanking you.
DOCTOR: As a matter of fact, there is.
REBEC: Yes, Doctor?
DOCTOR: Throughout history, you Thals have always been known as one of the most peace loving peoples in the galaxy.
TARON: I hope we always will be.
DOCTOR: Yes, well that's what I mean. When you get back to Skaro, you'll all be national heroes. Everybody will want to hear about your adventures.
TARON: Of course.
DOCTOR: So be careful how you tell that story, will you? Don't glamorise it. Don't make war sound like an exciting and thrilling game.
TARON: I understand.
DOCTOR: Tell them about the members of your mission that will not be returning, like Maro and Vaber and Marat. Tell them about the fear, otherwise your people might relish the idea of war. We don't want that.
REBEC: You can depend on us.
The Doctor's moralising may seem to be recycling "home truths" about life, but if no one ever mentions those, how are we to hear them? Certainly, as a teenager, growing up with the Pertwee era, I imbibed that and took it very much to heart. It lays bare the moral case for a fight of good against evil, and the way in which the battle must be fought to be just.
Peace Maker, but not a Pacifist
While the Doctor fights evil, where peace is possible, and it is an honourable course of action, he seeks to find a peaceful solution first. In the Sea Devils, a race of intelligent lizards from the distant past have been revived from millions of years hibernation, and want to reclaim what they regard as their world.
SEA DEVIL: There are many thousands of our people in hibernation in this base. We have other colonies hidden all round the world. We shall be the victors in the war against mankind.
DOCTOR: But there's no need for a war. Why can't you share the planet?
SEA DEVIL: That would be impossible.
DOCTOR: The depths of the sea and those areas on Earth where man cannot live can be yours.
SEA DEVIL: And man would agree to that?
DOCTOR: There's a chance. Wouldn't it be better to try for a peace, than to launch yourself into a war that you cannot possibly win?
SEA DEVIL: I will consider what you have said.
DOCTOR: Let me return to the humans, and I will endeavour to make a peace for you.
SEA DEVIL: Perhaps it would be possible.
And he is very much the "honest broker", seeking peace between reptiles and humans:
WALKER: Oh, come, come, Doctor. You speak as if these creatures are human. We're not going to hand over the world to a lot of lizards, you know.
DOCTOR: You can share it with them, surely?
WALKER: Oh, come. Really, Doctor.
DOCTOR: Look, let me make one final attempt to negotiate.
WALKER: Well, you didn't get very far last time, did you?
DOCTOR: Just you think of it, sir. Think of it. Wouldn't you like to be the man behind a peaceful settlement? Walker the peacemaker, they'd call you. Or would you prefer to be known as the man responsible for launching a full scale war!
In the end he fails, but it is not because he has not tried. Peace is the first solution, but events may dictate otherwise:
HART: Well then, Doctor, what happened?
DOCTOR: I managed to destroy their base for you.
HART: Thank goodness. Well done.
DOCTOR: Well, I did what I had to to prevent a war.
But when he does have to destroy, he is never pleased about the outcome. It is a failure of the attempt to get peace, not a victory to rejoice in. The same downbeat mood is found in "The Three Doctors", after the Doctors defeat Omega and destroy him:
JO: What's the matter, Doctor? Everything worked out all right, didn't it?
DOCTOR: Yes, for us.
JO: I know what it is. It's because you had to trick Omega.
DOCTOR: I didn't exactly trick him. I promised him his freedom and I gave it to him. The only freedom he could ever have.
JO: What else could you do? It was either him or everything
The strength of John Pertwee's tenure as the Doctor comes with the grounding of the narrative in the realism of location, the moral values of the Doctor himself, and the regrets he has when he defeats some of his adversaries. That is why the best of his stories are still very watchable today, and still hold up very well.


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

The States in Tweets

Playing Truant during Lessons

As usual, many of the States members were outside the States Chamber!

LucyStevoJSY I'm in the States Assembly today. However, not many politicians are by the looks of things!

SamMezec @LucyStevoJSY they're all in the computer room. Just struggled to get on one to print off my speech!

LucyStevoJSY @SamMezec What are they all doing?! A meeting of minds?

SamMezec @LucyStevoJSY hopefully all putting the final touches to their speeches in support of my elected Chief Minister proposition!

I don't think the cost would be excessive to set up an internet streaming feed, so that members of the public could see how many of their elected representatives are actually in the Chamber during important debates, and how many just make a speech and vanish, only to re-appear when it is time for the vote. All that is needed is vision. There are already sound channels for the broadcasting via microphones in use.

Not that the UK is much better. There is a division bell when MPs must tear themselves away from the Strangers Bar, and rush back to vote. But at least we can see how much activity there is there, and in a smaller jurisdiction that is even more important.

Waterfront Developments

Meanwhile, there was a mini-debate which former Senator Jim Perchard was Tweeting about on the States of Jersey Development Company pressing ahead with the Waterfront Masterplan, or at any rate, a loose approximation of the original. Jim wondered why a commercial enterprise should need the States to be involved. It's less free market economy, and more like Eastern Soviet style social engineering for business.

JLPerchard Why oh why are the states involving themselves in speculative development on the Waterfront SOJDC is digging itself deeper into the muck

JLPerchard I was under the impression that @philipozouf as minister would represent the interests of the people of Jersey, not the interests of SOJDC

JLPerchard The SOJDC is a liability that will almost certainly cost the people of Jersey millions. Why do the states think they R property developers?

philipozouf @JLPerchard the treasury minister's primary duty is tax payers and the public, as you well know.

politicsjersey Up to 7 Jersey based finance companies in talks with SOJDC over Esplanade Quarter after RBC went with rival site. But car park delayed

There's a degree of vagueness about the whole project that makes me wary. Just how many pre-lets will be put in place before it is considered "viable"? I fear, rather like Jim, that the political motivation will press on regardless, on assumptions that if some pre-lets are there, others will come along once the project begins. It feels like a gamble to me.

So a message to Jim Perchard about the Waterfront (with a nod to Star Trek): "It's development, Jim, but not as we know it"


Meanwhile, Philip Ozouf and James Baker had something of a political "love fest" over immigration policy. I suspect that "pragmatic and sensible" in this context means treating the target limits on immigration per year as something to wave at the electorate to keep them happy, and "sensible controls" mean the same laissez faire policy, but dressed up to look as if action is being taken.

philipozouf @JBakerJersey agreed with much of recent excellent speech in population debate. We need sensible controls that boost economic & jobs.

philipozouf @JBakerJersey need to strongly guard against sending out message controls designed 2reduce unemployment send message we're closed4 business!

philipozouf @JBakerJersey need2send strong message Jersey wants eco-growth, values inward migration. The policy needs pragmatic & sensible application

Given a choice between trusting Senator Ozouf and Deputy Baker over immigration, or Senator Paul Routier, I'd sooner opt for Senator Routier. His stance is not filled with euphemisms which really mean something different.

Statement: "sensible controls"
Translation: no controls for finance sector big players

Statement: "pragmatic and sensible"
Translation: say one thing, do another

Statement: "closed for business"
Translation: open for the finance centre.

The China Syndrome

JEPnews News - Green law 'threat to house prices'

Alan Maclean, in the meantime, having firmly placed speculative property development  against the Island Plan and laissez faire Sunday trading (give the consumer a vote) on his election agenda, has vanished off to China.

AlanMacleanJsy 1/2 Full schedule of meetings today in Shenzhen, China to promote Jersey and inward investment. Met culture, sport & tourism administration

AlanMacleanJsy 2/2..great opportunities for developing high value tourism by target marketing Chinese visitors to London

I am sure that some good comes of these visits abroad, but I can't help wondering that one problem is a lack of tools to measure how successful a venture is with "inward investment" or tourism.

Taxing Times
St_Ouennais @philipozouf @JLPerchard You said in States today: companies don't pay taxes, people do. Therefore follows you have no duty to business?

SamMezec Treasury Minister says he doesn't want to talk about morality and taxation. Surely tax is all about morality?

SamMezec @GaelMezec who we ask to pay and what we spend it on is a moral issue.
Tue, May 13 12:11:44 from Twitter for Android in reply to GaelMezec

JBakerJersey Want 2 ask @philipozouf ?falling tax, rising costs, wrong immigration policy. Diminishing returns. Higher costs. Less receipts =danger ahead

philipozouf @St_Ouennais @JLPerchard economists remind us ultimately people pay tax. My responsibility to the people of Jersey, business owners or not.

politicsjersey Treasury Minister says future taxation choices will be an election issue. Publishing spending and taxation plans this summer

GaelMezec @SamMezec I thought it was about raising finance to pay for government spending?

There is supposed to be a proposition from PPC imposing a moratorium on using Ministerial positions once nominations have been made, but that doesn't prevent Senator Ozouf from pre-empting it by publishing plans this summer. Expect an election "feel good" budget.

Odds and Ends

SamMezec Over 70% of Constable elections since 1999 were uncontested. Unacceptable for a national parliament. They should not be in the States

There is nothing to stop an election being contested. By the same logic, one should do away with the Deputy of Trinity because that was an unopposed election. Why doesn't Reform field candidates for Constables then, if elected, they could vote themselves out of the States?

Nigel Farage declined to stand in a bi-election for the UK parliament, and despite his words, it is pretty clear he didn't stand because he thought he would bomb out. An MEP is a much safer choice. I can't help thinking that the inability of the JDA to field many candidates in the Constables election indicated a similar failure of nerve.

Has Reform got the confidence to try? That is the real solution to uncontested elections - ensure they are contested, rather than complaining about it.

seanpowerjersey It is important that the Channel Islands maintain a strong and robust LO-LO service between CI and the UK, and develop a French link soon

I spy with my little eye something for the election manifesto.

politicsjersey No date yet for Steel report on safeguarding in the Church in Jersey. Bishop of Winchester considering its contents & what to publish

Procrastination is the order of the day, but thanks to Peter Ould, at least the agreement signed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Winchester, and the two Deans has been made public. That's good, not least because there seems to have been little or no effort on behalf of any of the signatories to make it known to the average man or woman in the pew. It's been for their eyes only.

jerseyisland Gay rights group is urging the Chief Ministers of Guernsey and Jersey to allow same sex couples to get

It is ridiculous that Jersey should remain out of step with the UK on this matter. As things stand, if gay couples want to get married, they will have to travel to the UK to do it. And then on their return to Jersey, their status over here will be no more than that of Civil Partnership. Apart from the word "marriage", I don't see that there is any real legal difference between those statuses. So what is the problem? 

And finally, the dangers of brevity in tweets

itvchanneltv Gsy - Islanders urged to plan for death:

The linked article says that Guernsey authorities are encouraging Islanders towards "making a will, planning your future care and even registering as an organ donor." But the brief tweet itself sounds like a promotion of euthanasia!