Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Behind the Headlines

I’ve been looking at “Behind the Headlines” in the Jersey Topic Magazine of1968. Essentially, it is the editorial, the equivalent of the leader article.

It is fascinating to read the flowing depiction of Majorca. I remember going on holiday there in the 1970s, and the southern coastline – Palma Nova – was brim full of huge block like hotels, all along the sea front.

There really is no beauty in that. I would disagree with the statement that nothing has been spoiled or, for that matter, that it is “magnificent”. It is a sprawling overdeveloped mess, and we had to visit the port of Andratx and the north of the Island to find some real coastline of beauty.

It is worth noting with the comments on Fort Regent that this was penned in 1968. A decision to develop Fort Regent as a leisure complex was taken in December 1967. In 1970 the cable car facility was opened which gave access to Fort Regent from snow hill, this was closed to public use in 1991. In 1974 the Fort was roofed over. The swimming pool was built on the Glacis Field and opened in 1971, the Gloucester Hall opened in 1978; this is part of Fort Regent’s multi-use facilities. The Queens Hall opened in 1988.

It is interesting to see the comments on car tax. Of course that ceased and was replaced with an increased duty on fuel instead, which more than made up for it. But in its day, it was based on engine capacity, and the Chelsea Hotel (now demolished and Spectrum Flats) was taken over in January for the queues of people thronging to renew their car tax. No records show the location was ever put out for tender, and it must have been a nice bonus for the hotel owners during its closure in the winter months, one of whom was a States member.

The notion that road tax (or even fuel duty) goes towards roads and car parks is false, of course. It goes into a central fund, from which some part returns to fund roads and car parks. It is not ring fenced, and has not been since Churchill was Chancellor in the UK, and raided it. Jersey follows the same practice, and increasing duty on the basis that it is needed for funding road maintenance is nonsense; it is not ring fenced, and any increase will mostly go to central funds.

The pedestrian crossings at Beaumont must have been new in 1968. Despite the dire warnings of accidents, I would say they work extremely well with the filter in turn system. But hindsight is a wonderful thing. Back then, it must have seemed very different.

Looking further down. Rediffusion was the trading name of Broadcast Relay Service Ltd, formed in 1928. In 1929 the company introduced its first cable radio service in Hull to customers frustrated with the difficulties of tuning in weak radio broadcasts. It expanded and was also a cable TV supplier, and I well remember the little switches on the wall to change channel (photo above).

Reditronics Jersey was sold to SCK Holdings Limited in 1986 and following BET's retreat from cable and the consequent loss of associated contracts, it ceased trading in 1987. The Rediffusion Jersey cable network was sold to Jersey Cable Limited (now Newtel Solutions) in 1988.

Another golf tournament of note was the Jersey Open which was a European Tour golf tournament played in Jersey, from 1978 to 1995.

I’m not a golfer, but I can’t recall any major tournaments on a regular basis being held in Jersey today. Perhaps as a means of boosting tourism, it should be looked at again.



Last month I was a guest of the Spanish Government on a visit to Majorca. It was the first time that I had visited this island and it was not a very happy trip. Wherever I went I realised more and more how Jersey was missing the boat.

Majorca has planned its development. They have built magnificent hotels on wonderful sites and the whole effort of the island is geared to tourism. More than anything the general population realises the importance of the industry and they are right behind the efforts of the authorities. Unlike Jersey they know that a really successful tourism business means greater benefits and a higher standard of living.

The beauty of the island is in no way spoiled. There is strict planning but planning which is aware of the need to develop. Once the plans for a hotel have been passed by the tourism board to ensure that they meet the basic requirements, they are then sent to a panel of architects who, if they approve them, send the plans on to the planning board. If the planning authorities turn them down the plans go before an appeals board consisting of members of the tourism board, the architects panel and the planning authorities as well as lay members of the public,

This sensible planning policy has resulted in some outstanding architecture.

When I was finding out about all this I kept thinking of Jersey.

Of the English residents who want to keep Jersey quiet and peaceful (no tourists).
Our Island Development Committee.
Our crazy licensing laws.
Our climate (miserable by comparison).
Our lack of night entertainment.
The residents near the Airport and their protests about jets.

It was hard not to throw myself, complete with Jersey sweater and wrapped in a red and white flag of Jersey, into the warm, warm Mediterranean.


Last week I visited the Merton Hotel to see their magnificent swimming pool. Seymours Ltd, must be congratulated on their enterprise and Channel Islands Contracting on their swimming pool constructional ability. It is truly an outstanding job. The cost of this project, I understand, is about £60,000. For this the hotel has an international size swimming pool, a paddling pool for youngsters and a diving tank. It will be possible to hold international swimming meetings in the pool next year, when the diving towers will be completed.

When I think of the £400,000 plus that the States need to build an indoor swimming pool I wonder why it takes so much to put a roof on. And would it not have been better for the States to put a roof on the Merton Hotel pool and for the States to then rent it for the winter, when it will hardly be used.

There can be no reason why imaginative private enterprise should not be joined by States finance to give the people of Jersey what they need at the right price.


Already a number of people are complaining about the new taxation plans for cars, which the Finance Committee have released. The aim of these plans is to tax cars by their length so that the mini owner pays less than the Rolls Royce man. Such a scheme strikes me as being more than fair.

Let's put this matter of car taxation in perspective. Car tax in Jersey is a third of the English tax. Petrol costs are amongst the lowest in" Europe. There is no charge for parking our cars in the street. The car has become a serious problem in Jersey. New roads are needed and multi-storey car parks have to be built. It is therefore right that car owners should pay for this. I can see no reason why car taxes should not be trebled, why petrol should not sell for at least 3/6 a gallon and why people should not be charged to park in the streets.

Incidentally I also believe that tourists should also pay for motoring amenities in the form of a tax on every car that is hired, which would have to be paid by the hirer. Those people who cannot pay these types of taxes should not run cars.


I see that the police of St. Peter have issued a warning to motorists about the pedestrian crossings at Beaumont. We have, in fact, been told to watch our p's and q's and look out for pedestrians.

I cannot but conclude that incidents at this incredible jumble of islands are inevitable.

As if it isn't enough to concentrate on getting through the complex you have to worry about pedestrians suddenly stepping into the road.

Having successfully negotiated this hazard you are confronted with traffic coming from St. Aubin. You get through this unscathed and have scarcely let the clutch out when you are slamming on your brakes at a pedestrian crossing no more than five yards away. I think that the Motor Traffic office should award certificates to any driver who can go through that spot unscathed for six months. Certainly by that time he will be cross-eyed.


I was back in the island in time to catch last day's golf at the Rediffusion Golf Tournament. What magnificent golf it was too.

At the end of the tournament I overheard two States members saying what a good tournament it had been, although one of them doubted its value as a tourist attraction.

I can tell them that it is the biggest single tourist attraction that Jersey has ever staged. Professional golfers are world wide travellers and they are spreading the Jersey golf gospel far and wide. The tournament brings down a battery of press, who send back reports about the golf and about Jersey. And a number of late season visitors are beginning to plan their holiday to coincide with the tournament.

Gerry de Wit, the Dutch champion who is the professional at a very big club at Hilversum, told me that at least a dozen of members had booked a holiday in the island. I act like a walking tourist information bureau for Jersey" he said.

Jersey should be grateful that a firm like Rediffusion should spend so much time and effort in a promotion from which the island gains so much. They deserve our sincere thanks.

But what a better tournament it would be if the States were to quadruple the prize money and run a joint effort to make the Jersey tournament the biggest on the golfing circuit.

Then even the Americans would come over - and what an attraction that would be.


A reader has sent me a section from what calls "the litany of Malayan officialdom which appeared recently in the Malay Mail.

I have a feeling that its message applies governments the whole world over and reproduce part of it as I feel it might also ring true here.

Let us pray

O Lord, grant that this day we come to no decisions
Neither run into any kind of responsibility
But that all our doings may be ordered to establish
New and quite unwarranted departments.
For ever and ever.


Thou, who seest all things below
Grant that Thy servants may go slow.
That they may study to comply
With regulations till they die.
Teach us, Lord, to reverence Committees, more than common sense;
Impress our minds to make no plan,
But pass the baby when we can.
And when the Tempter seems to give
Us feelings of initiative
Or when alone we go too far,
Chastise us with a circular.
Mid war and tumult, fire and storms,
Strengthen us, we pray, with forms,
Thus will Thy servants ever be
A flock of perfect sheep for Thee.

1 comment:

James said...

I remember the civil servants' hymn being:

"Ye servants of the Lord
Each in his office wait"