Wednesday, 27 August 2014

St Aubin: Time Tables and Falsehoods

The following is taken from a BBC News story from 21 August 2014:
Traders in a Jersey village say they have lost hundreds of thousands of pounds because of summer roadworks. A group of them are now considering withholding a portion of parish rates in protest.
David Pallot from Portside studio in St Aubin said takings were 50% down and other shopkeepers in the area had suffered the same problem. Mr Pallot said villagers were originally told the work would be finished by Easter, but says its now not due to be done until November.
He is part of the St Aubin Traders Action Group, which has been formed in protest at the damage to business they claim the work has caused. He said some members may seek compensation for the disruption and loss of business they claim has been caused by improvement works in the area.
Chris Sampson, of the Transport and Technical Services department, which is carrying out the work, said there was never any discussion of the work being finished as early as Easter. He said traders were given the option for the work to stop during the summer months, but opted not to take it. However, the traders dispute this.
Now I'd like the reader to note the phrase "there was never any discussion of the work being finished as early as Easter". This is manifestly false.
The Transport and Technical Services Business Plan for 2014, signed by the Minister, Kevin Lewis, gives a strict timetable. Kevin Lewis says in his introduction:
"The first of the Village Improvement Schemes will be started in early 2014. Following extensive consultation and working in liaison with the Parish of St Brelade, significant improvements will be made to the centre of St Aubin"
When you read through the document, you find
"St Aubin's village improvement scheme"
And this is given "Target Q2 2014", which means the 2nd quarter of 2014 for completion, at the very latest, June 2014.
But further down the document, the dating is even more precise:
"Construct St Aubin's village improvement Scheme"
"Key Performance Indicators: Works completed"
"Target: April 2014"
"There was never any discussion of the work being finished as early as Easter" says Chris Sampson, but there it is, in black and white, in the document drawn up by TTS itself for 2014. Target: April 2014.
Indeed, when the December edition of the Parish Magazine La Baguette came out in 2013, the Constable was well aware of this, and this is reflected in his message to Parishioners:
"Some minor works have now begun in St. Aubin as part of the overall improvement scheme for the area. The proposals offer all who live, work and visit, the opportunity to finally deal with many of the concerns over safety in the village with the implementation of a 20mph speed limit coupled with traffic calming measures. During the period of works, which I expect to be complete by Easter 2014, I would ask all who use St. Aubin to be patient as there will, at times, be some disruption to both the traffic and more generally in the area."
So why has there been a delay from April to September? Have the original plans (and timetable) been changed? Why is this not reflected in a new "key performance indicator" from TTS, and from Mr Sampson? While there is clear evidence that a date was set, (to paraphrase Mr Sampson) there was never any public discussion of the work being finished as late as September!
Will the Minister, Kevin Lewis, actually speak out and issue a statement explaining why there has been a delay of around 4-5 months?
As it stands, the target has been well and truly missed, and as for "key performance indicators", what is the point of setting a target date of April 2014, when it is missed by 4 months? Is this purely cosmetic? Does anyone ever revisit these targets, or are they just put in a report to look as if the department is efficient?

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