Friday, 22 October 2010

Shenton (or "accredited" media) Exposed.

So Senator Ben (P9-26) Shenton believes that States Members should be paid by what title they hold, Minister, Assistant Minister etc. It is no wonder that he doesn’t want States Members to be paid by adhering to the oath they take, part of which says “ the greatest responsibility as an elected representative is to be in the states chamber and vote on behalf of their constituents.”

St Saviour Deputy Jeremy Macon has (in my opinion) completely exposed Senator Shenton and his “populist” propositions regarding States Members pay, for what they are…….”populist.” So who now is going to bring a proposition that States Members get paid by the amount of votes they are present for?………………..Not Senator Shenton that’s for sure!

Deputy Macon has published a Press Release along with the statistics of those present, or not, to do what they are supposed to do, and that is, to vote in order to “represent” the people who put them there.

Just as revealing is how Deputy Macon’s statistics expose (in my opion) the inadequacies of our “accredited” media. Why have they never worked out these statistics, or if they have, then why have they never published/broadcast them? I’ve come to learn that it took the Deputy less than an hour to compile these statistics, yes that’s less than an hour.

I’m quite sure BBC Jersey will come out with the old “we haven’t got the budget or resources” sketch, that’s why they don’t publish or broadcast such revealing statistics about our elected “representatives”. Well I’ve got a solution to that. The next time they send Roger Barra half way across the world to report on a minority sport like cricket, after he’s checked in at the airport (an hour before the flight) he could spend that hour gathering statistics about our elected “representatives” from the States website, just like Deputy Macon did, problem solved!!

Deputy Macon Press Release.

Press release - States members who are not present in the chamber to vote

During the debate over States members remuneration where by Senator Shenton was arguing that states member should receive remuneration according to their title (Minister, Chairman, etc) arguing that these were roles of greater reconcilability.

Deputy Jeremy Maçon revealed the number of times that all states member had not been present to vote. He argued that because of the oath of office taken by states members that the greatest responsibility as an elected representative was to be in the states chamber and vote on behalf of their constituents.

From January 2009 (when the current house began to debate public business) to October 2010 there had been a total of 520 votes. (Not including the votes taken beginning the week 19th of October)

Out of the 53 three member those at the bottom were

49. Connétable Graeme Buycher of St John not present for a total of 126 votes
50.Senator Freddie Cohen not present for a total of 136
51.Senator Ben Shenton not present for a total of 139 (over a fifth of all votes taken in the time period)
52.Connétable Simon Crowcroft of St Helier not present for a total of 142 votes
53.Deputy Geoff Southern of St Helier not present for a total of 192 votes

Out of the 53 member those at the top were:-

3.Deputy Rob Duhamel of St Saviour not present for a total of 6 votes
2.Deputy Bob Hill of St Martin not present for a total of 2 votes
1.Deputy Jeremy Maçon of St Saviour not present of a total of 1 vote

Notes to the Editor:-

All of the voting records can be found at

All votes are a matter of public record

When votes are recorded illness, being excused and being away on states business are recorded as such. Thus, a not present vote in only recorded when a member has been present for the role call and left the chamber not to return in time for a vote. A not present vote is recorded only when the appel is called for (the electronic vote where member have to push their buttons). Standing votes do not record who is and who is not present.

Any question can be directed to Deputy Jeremy Maçon

Senator Le Gresley was exempt as he came in on a by-election and had not served the same term as other members - but for the record he has also not been present for 1 vote in his 4 month term.

The information of all member is attached in an excel spread sheet.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

DRAFT ISLAND PLAN – examined in public – decided in private?

Messrs Chris Shepley, Alan Langton and their helper Helen have gone away to read through boxes of papers and transcripts of hearings submitted to them over the past few months from Jersey.

They are the “outside planning inspectors” appointed to consider Freddie’s legacy – the Draft Island Plan – which will serve the Island for the next ten years or so if approved by the States next year.

Unfortunately, it is a bit worrying that the final submission to the inspectors was a 7,000 word statement from Planning Officer Peter Thorne in defence of the proposed plan delivered after lunch on the last day of the public proceedings.

Throughout the hearings the inspectors had maintained a strict timetable and admitted nobody to speak before their scheduled time. They usually enforced a guillotine too on talking once the Planning Office had responded to any verbal representations made around the discussion table. Thus, Peter Thorne had already finished the proceedings before lunch on the final day with the official policy line – so why was he allowed to sum up at such length after the final bell had been rung for everybody else?

Not only were these final public proceedings a bit worrying because any “late” written submissions sent in prior to the public hearings were also barred although the Planning Office still seemed to be sending in controversial policy statements almost to the end. There was certainly a flurry of participants e-mailing discussion papers amongst themselves because these had been officially rejected as “out of time.”

The outside inspectors had also maintained a vow of virtual Trappist silence during tea breaks between the hearings and removed themselves from the room at every opportunity so as not to engage in conflicting conversations with anybody. They are very senior guys in the UK planning enquiry business so should know the rules.

Yet, their attention to such details did not extend to ensuring that an effective sound system was available so that everybody could be heard. Only constant nagging resulted in a somewhat reluctant response to install a sound system. As is so usual in Jersey – we expect public hearings where speakers cannot be heard – but we might have expected higher standards from such experienced people from the UK (where anti-discrimination laws rule).

Having attended the public hearings every day and participated in several group and individual discussions, this resolute and concerned citizen was nevertheless impressed by the general standards of the examination and the smooth manner in which it progressed.

Whether the inspectors were receiving the critical signals being transmitted by the public is anybody’s guess but at the end of the day, Freddie Cohen and his Department will not be bound to accept any proposals for modification. Soon after Peter Thorne had delivered his final 7,000 words statement, this citizen met Freddie on his way to meet the inspectors but whether they just exchanged Trappist silences is not known.

It wasn’t the final round either for the inspectors and Helen because your resolute citizen encountered them during the Sunday evening following supping in a local CAMRA pub. Alas, the omerta rule prevailed and they would not even exchange hellos or soccer incantations for fear of contamination.

Helen e-mailed later to explain that even such minimalist exchanges with the public were not allowed….

So we must await the outcome of their deliberations and we shall see whether the States will approve the Plan in any shape or form next year. If the whole process is of any real benefit to the Island is doubtful – the best buildings in Jersey were built long before planners were even invented. The worst buildings are the direct result of post-war planning professionalism and now the Jersey Development Company is about to be launched!

Whether or not Freddie will see it through to the end must be doubtful….during our brief street encounter he said “I shan’t be there much longer” or something similar. Was that an iconic or an ironic statement from the Minister?

Submitted by Thomas Wellard.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Freddie Cohen’s Castle – under siege

The Reg’s Skips fiasco should have finished him off but the scandals seem to be coming thick and fast up at the Mount Bingham citadel.

Freddie promised that this was to be his last stand and that he would not contest the next year’s elections. There are fresh complaints every week about the planning permits that are granted or those that are not and the current Draft Island Plan review process is revealing serious shortcomings on a daily basis.

Last Friday Terry Le Main was arguing the case for the “CTV” green field housing scheme that had been approved up ‘til the very last minute and then rejected after local lobbying. He was shouting foul play and demanding that it should be re-instated into the Island Plan but the other complaints against Le Main himself and planning offices staff a la Labey will no doubt run and run….

We interviewed Freddie in his castle about eighteen months ago and its well worth looking again at the recordings.

Here we have Part Two (of a three part interview) and it is remarkable how the issue of affordable housing continues to be such a live issue in this tiny Island. Surely it cannot be so difficult to ensure that everybody is adequately housed – especially since the money was running so freely for most of the past thirty years?

Corruption in high places might be at the root of the problem – who knows –but the Planning Inspectors from the UK currently hearing the bitching at the review must wonder what sort of place Jersey is.

Of course, very few members of the public are able to attend the hearings and the accredited press hardly ever drop in.

Team Voice asked to be allowed to make video recordings but was refused. The accredited crowd were permitted – but what use have they made of the facility?
If there is corruption or just plain incompetence at the Planning Department how on earth shall it be exposed and those responsible brought to book?

If you care - look at the video(s).

Submitted by

Thomas Wellard.