Monday, 8 January 2018

The Past Year in Review: January 2017

Waterfront Update

A look back at the original plans, which are the ones supposedly still in place for the waterfront.

"Sinking the main road is a significant project taking 2-3 years. Traffic management measures during construction will include a temporary dual carriageway through the existing Esplanade Square car park."

That's the car park now being developed with buildings on it!!

It also notes that "When the work is finished, a replacement public car park will be provided underground." Any site of that in plans for Planning?

The States Innovation Fund: A Disaster Waiting to Happen

Now that the Auditor-General’s report is out, a lot of blame will undoubtedly accrue to Mike King, who has just resigned as Chief Officer for EDD. That may well divert attention from other failings by others, or statements made which should not have been made by others in defence of the fund.

I consider those also with oversight on the fund – Philip Ozouf, Alan Maclean, Tim Herbert and the rest of the Board.

A snippet:

In 2014, Alan Maclean noted that: “the board, which has considerable experience, is meeting on a regular basis to maintain progress”

In 2016, Philip Ozouf stated: “The Board is made up of some of Jersey’s most successful and experienced entrepreneurs, supplemented by banking and legal professionals, and they have been diligent in discharging their duties.”

Heaven save us from such most successful and experienced entrepreneurs and such diligent expertise as the Innovation fund went off the rails!

A detailed look at Logfiller and the Innovation Fund.

The Chairman went on to explain how the team on the board looked at proposals:

“I review every application in quite some detail and categorise them, and then the board also sees every application. If an application looks promising, one of the non-executive directors will kick the tyres in terms of cash flow, costs, budgets and so forth, and that director will then act as a champion for that applicant.”

The board apart from the Chairman whose job was to sift but not produce a detailed financial review (which task he delegated to one of the non-executive directors), included “experienced businessmen and private-sector members Tim Ringsdore, Aaron Chatterley, Peter Shirreffs and Dave Allen - the non-executive directors - and from the public sector States economist Dougie Peedle, Economic Development chief officer Mike King and an officer from the Treasury.”

Certainly as remarked above, “a number of pairs of eyes”. So who had their eyes shut? When they "kicked the tyres", did they spot some were flat? And why was it not “robust”? And what was Dougie Peedle doing?

Clearly not all the blame can be laid at either Philip Ozouf or Mike King’s door, as there was “expertise – especially from the finance sector – to ensure an informed decision” made in terms of cash flow, costs, budgets".

Or in the case of Logfiller, some rather ill-informed decisions!

Population in January 2017: A New Strategy (Or not)

Paul Routier is responsible for the slap-dash way in which the previous population policy was allowed to lapse with nothing other than laissez-faire to put in its place until now, which looks like too little, too late.

On BBC Radio Jersey, he was busy extolling the virtues of the new system to contain population, but refused to be drawn on any numbers. As a result, there is, as Dr Cartright in “Yes Minister” makes clear, no method for measuring the success – or failure – of the policy.

The Evasive Politician

Following pressure from St Helier Deputy Geoff Southern, Senator Ian Gorst said: “He has offered to step aside from his role as Assistant Chief Minister. That means he will no longer be Assistant Chief Minister.”

But Deputy Southern was not satisfied with Senator Gorst’s answer. It led to the Bailiff getting involved. He said: “Chief Minister, I think the Assembly is entitled to be quite clear about the position, as indeed are the public.

“As I understand your answer, Senator Ozouf has volunteered to step aside, he hasn’t yet done so, and so as at the moment, he remains in place as an Assistant Chief Minister.

“If he makes that offer to you, you will accept it. Is that the position?”

Senator Gorst replied: “Sir, he’s been quite clear that he will be doing that, and when he does, ‘yes’ is the answer.”

Why on earth couldn’t he bring himself to use the word “resigned” rather than “step aside”? Notably, referring to what he would do if any inquiry found hum culpable, Senator Gorst used the term "step down" and not "step aside"

When Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru was under investigation in Kenya, politicians from held two meetings in Nairobi to discuss whether or not they should ask him to ask her to step aside, which was then seen as a political euphemism for suspension, while the allegations were being investigated.

So is this a more of a suspension than a resignation? Senator Ozouf no longer sits on the Council of Ministers, but that’s not the same as using the word “resigned”.

Instead we have “step aside” – not “step down” (which is always used for resignation) – which suggests the image of Senator Ozouf waiting in the wings for an opportune moment to come back on stage.

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