Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Plemont: The Day of Judgement Arrives

"I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak" (Matthew 12:36)

Well, today is the day that Plemont gets debated and possibly voted on, depending on how long the speeches are. There will be people meeting in the Royal Square to show support for the proposition, and certainly a degree of lobbying behind the scenes is likely to have taken place.

I'm still not happy with the rather devious re-routing of funds from the Criminal Offences Confiscation Fund to pay for Plemont. I know that this is not happening directly, but as the sums involved in the transfer of funds to the Police HQ budget, and then the use of unused funds there to be returned to the Chief Minister's department exactly match, effectively it is a straight transfer from one place to another.

It is not exactly money laundering, but it seems very close to that, moving money from one place to another to conceal its point of origin. It is certainly setting a dangerous precedent to allow 'earmarked funds' to be moved around by the Treasury Minister in such convoluted ways as to 'grab' the cash into other projects or intentions - made worse still when those projects are sponsored or supported by the Minister himself.

And yet the solution probably lies within Philip Ozouf's hands, as he has just presented to the States, on 30th June 2014, a "Budget Management Report for the Period Ended 31st December 2013"

In the section entitled "Infrastructure Investments ", the report states that:

"During the 6 month period to 31st December 2013, the Minister approved the issuance of a £13,000,000 infrastructure investment from the Currency Fund to provide the States of Jersey Development Company with financing for part of the underground car park, subject to conditions (MD-TR-2013-0095). Note that at present it is not planned that this investment will proceed."

As Save Our Shoreline have noted, the car park has been put into mothballs for the time being, and the money allocated is not going to be used. Why not retract it, and use part of it for Plemont?

Why does the owner/developer want to sell at this point? I can't really see him motivated by some kind of benign altruism, for surely he would then gift the land. I think it is much more the case that the developer would prefer a return now, if he can get it, rather than incur capital cost of site clearance, and building new homes in a time of property slump.

The National Trust were able to secure a deal where the developer probably makes around 2- 3 million on his original investment, perhaps not as much as the sale of property - but he would have associated costs and perhaps loans to take out first to fund the project, with interested incurred on those.

Meanwhile, battle lines are drawn, and Deputy Rob Duhamel is surprisingly valuing the land in more economic terms than the Treasury Minister. He says:

 "At a cost of between £5,000 to £10,000 per vergee and by taking a mid-point figure of £7,500 per vergee, £3.575 million would in theory buy approximately 476 vergees of non-agricultural land. This is nearly 60 times the proposed built on area of the Plémont development (8 vergees) which is not already being returned to public accessible natural landscape. In contributing £3.575 million, it could be argued that the States are supporting the purchase of 8 vergees of non-agricultural land at an approximate cost of at least £446,000 per vergee. This sum excludes the contribution being made by the NTJ. This does not represent good value for money."

"There is some environmental benefit in the States supporting the National Trust for Jersey in purchasing the Plémont Holiday Village and adjoining land at a cost of £7.15 million. I am sure that in a perfect world, returning built land to its natural state would be welcomed by many islanders and by the Minister for Planning and Environment."

"However, I do not believe providing a grant of £3.575 million to return eight vergees of land on the North coast of the island to a natural state offers the island good value for money. Only a small number of islanders will benefit from the acquisition of this small and very expensive piece of land."

I think that the key factor in the debate will not be the purchase of Plemont, but how it is to be funded, and in particular - as it is the only proposal on the table - whether Philip Ozouf's suggestion will sway the House enough to establish what could be a very dangerous precedent, and moreover one which was rejected when similarly sourced funding for the Historical Abuse Enquiry was suggested.

By setting out only one option for funding the purchase of Plemont, and not keeping his options open, Philip Ozouf may have wrecked the very proposal he set out to support.

For other posts on Plemont, please see:


And Bob Hill's blog posting - with a debate in the comments at:


See also Mark Forskitt at:

On the use of the Criminal Offences Confiscation Fund not being available for the Historical Abuse Enquiry, see Voice for Children's blog at:

And for my narrative poem on what Plemont could be, see

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