Monday, 29 December 2014

Port Galot: Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.

The Chief Minister has made a decision to give public support to the Port Galot development. I’m not sure, given the new “collective responsibility” of the Council of Ministers, that is a very responsible thing to do. It is almost like an outside judge weighing in on one side of a Court case before the jury has heard both sides, and before the presiding judge has given his view.

Rather like Plemont, this is a divisive issue, and it is possible more important than Plemont, because it strikes at the heart of historic St Helier and its harbours.

The comments on Facebook about the issue also show a worrying detachment of the Council of Ministers, and indeed the States themselves, from the public.

“How many more tales must we listen to? Are our leaders just completely misinformed or are they determined regardless of the truth and public opinion”

The comments coming from the Planning Minister, and the Planning Officer, about how they will not be swayed by numbers are also destroying public confidence in the States. The end result might not be agreement, but there should at least be an honest attempt at engagement rather than offhand dismissals.

“Just typical and simply saying they are going to ignore public opinion and do what we want to do and hate to say but probably the people in favour of it will benefit from it !!”

“I think it’s too late. Someone somewhere has made a commitment and in too deep to back out now. Just makes me sick that another view of the sea will be lost. So many arguments why not to build here but no one is listening”

“How can the states vote to keep Plemont which is not only somewhere nobody ever goes, but most of the population don't even know where it is, but want to destroy a coastline and view that at least 60per cent of the population see every day (and that is a very conservative percentage) not to mention the preservation of la folie which is so important in our sailing history as the sailors left here for ports all over the world for many years, my grandfather being one of them?”

It is not clear whether the Chief Minister’s comments were made after the Chief Fire Officer’s objections to the site of a restaurant and residential unit. The JEP has a habit of sometimes posting stories outside strict chronology, but he should certainly now make a statement which addresses those very pertinent objections, or perhaps review his position:

“So I take it that the Chief Minister is going to ignore not only the large public opinion against this development but also the advice of the Chief Fire Officer. I fear for our Island.”

“Amazing how deafening their silence is! How different it might have been prior to elections !”

“If he has been reported correctly, he's made a grave error of judgement and will regret it in due course., Quite apart from the commercial aspects of this monstrous project, the proposed buildings are of an unparalleled hideousness. Do something with La Folie. If there's a covenant on it, lift it ! We had the same idiotic argument about developing St. James. Meantime, we must all keep up the pressure on our individual Deputy and Constable. Don't stop fighting !”

“When I first moved to the island I lived in Grouville and would drive to work via Mount Bingham everyday just to see that view. Building wooden shacks that will be over priced, under maintained and built on the cheap will destroy the entire area. Sounds like someone in the decision making area is going to be making a nice retirement fund.”

“Has anyone looked at the end user's view? The person that is going to live in one of these buildings? Will be in shadow, living in an industrial area and one direction has a nice view... Not somewhere I would want to live.”

“Whatever the people of the island want is totally ignored by the government of the island. All the election promises get forgotten and they all follow the megabucks for their own interests.”

“I have been fortunate enough to travel a fair bit and have seen many harbour/dock areas sympathetically developed that have enhanced the whole areas, I'm sure many of our States members have as well. What puzzles me is why Jersey insists on building out of character monstrosities against the will of the people time and time again.”

Fundamentally, if I was cynical, I would take the view that the States acceptance of this development will weigh in the balance not just the new HQ for the sea cadets, but also the fact that it is a private development, and therefore not eating into States budgets.

In other words, it is something free. Evidently very few members of the States have either had a classical education or benefited from it, or they would be aware of the aphorism “Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes”, loosely translated as “beware of Greeks bearing gifts”.

When a developer offers a wonderful wooden structure for the Sea Cadets, and the price is extra wooden buildings for accommodation, and a restaurant, perhaps it would be wise to remember a wooden structure of the past, offered as a gift. Developers are not usually philanthropists, but they are excellent builders of Trojan horses.


Nick Palmer said...

So how many are the Sea Cadets that their activities are of sufficent gravitas to bribe the government - and hearts-and-flowers the public - into supporting this commercial development? The local website doesn't say but the national one has:

"Today, 14,000 young people based in 400 units in towns, cities and port"

So that's an average of about 35 cadets per unit. Dunno if Jersey's is larger or smaller than the average, but we're not talking hordes of cadets here.

The simplistic narrative seems to be that their HQ needs to be ♫ beside the seaside, beside the sea ♫. From the local website:

"Being an island we conduct all our boating on the sea, either from La Collette Marina in St Helier, or from St Aubin's Fort, which is an RYA Training Centre situated approximately 200 yards off the shore at St Aubin, which at high tide is surrounded by the sea"

So, actually being at Port des Galots is not necessary.

It seems as if Gorst's primary motivation is his deluded belief that the way to get Jersey's economy back on track is to drill baby, drill/build baby, build ©Sarah Palin

Jonathan Renouf said...

This situation is making a mockery of the planning process. Surely the whole point of allowing public objections to a development is to listen to the arguments and gauge the strength of feeling they represent? If public objections are irrelevant to the process, then why bother inviting them? Furthermore, if the chief minister is supporting the application, and collective ministerial responsibility applies, then are we to assume that the planning minister's decision has already been taken?
It seems very clear that if Jersey's wonderful natural and built heritage is to be protected, then there needs to be a significant reduction in the power of the developer lobby.