Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The birdman of crass

He’s a cuddly and chirpy little chap and doesn’t mean any harm to anybody but we should not be fooled that Mike Stentiford MBE does not have political agenda.

As President of the “National Trust for Jersey”(NTfJ) he heads a very powerful political lobbying group which by its very name lays down a biased belief in Jersey as a Nation and under cover of some very laudable purposes, promotes a very narrow view of Island affairs and priorities.

Of course the preservation of countryside is traditionally linked to conservative land owning or farming interests and the likes of Mike Stentiford, with a life long concern for wildlife, are obvious – but not always compatible – allies in battles against development or other perceived threats to their privileged lifestyles.

Thus, in Jersey where the government is so embedded into the finance business and a belief in ever more commercial and population growth - the need for the NTfJ and others under an environmentalist banner to resist building encroachments into the countryside is thoroughly predictable - just as it is hypocritical.

Be in no doubts however, but Mike Stentiford has a political record because he is a poll topper when it comes to signing nomination papers for election candidates. During the most recent Senatorial elections last autumn he signed for 4 candidates including (Senator) Mike Vibert – and they were all unsuccessful. Yet, whilst it is evident that he would have shared some environmental concerns with some of the candidates his signature alongside that of Freddie Cohen – the Minister of Planning – on Mike Vibert’s nomination was puzzling at least, in view of the recent “Line in the Sand” manifestation.
Presumably, even in Jersey there is some expectation of political consistency and shared beliefs when it comes to nominating electoral candidates?

It would no doubt prove very interesting to undertake a fuller analysis of election nominations to reveal the sub-power groups from among the NTfJ, or farmers or lawyers etc who support the men and women who eventually form our government and to compare their political policies.

We all know that landowners and farmers are never shy of building in the countryside for their own purposes or that there is virtually no end to the hideous green sheds, glasshouses or other developments that are permitted in the name of “farming”. And we also know that the countryside is littered with massive ex agricultural buildings that are now storing finance business archives or have been changed to many other uses. And, we are the usually silent witnesses to the glasshouses that have been re-zoned for housing development - making instant multi-millionaires of their blessed owners.

Shall the “birdman” and his allies be demonstrating against the latest farmland rezoning plans in the current Draft Island Plan produced under Freddie Cohen’s careful eye? Shall the faming lobby be demanding that the glasshouse sites be returned to grazing for Jersey cows or even that Freddie’s own fields be returned to a proper agricultural use in leafy St John? Shall any of these groups be proposing a plan to house everybody in Jersey?

Of course, the hidden agenda is that the homes that are desperately needed to properly house the entire population of Jersey will never be built. The 15,000 people who live in lodgings and farmyard portakabins are just simply not on the radar of the NTfJ and its membership and unless they grow feathers and learn to whistle a pretty tune – Mike Stentiford will not focus on them through his binoculars. At best, some of these thousands will be stuffed into shoeboxes within the town limits and if houses are built in the countryside the Constables will hoist the “parishioners first” signs.

The elimination of discrimination in Jersey is not a priority because it simply does not affect adversely those who govern or make the critical policy decisions. Birds and squirrels must have their nest boxes and those so pretty cows must have their 4 acres, milking parlours and sheds but the second class thousands of workers who do the work and pay the taxes that keep the whole show on the road – are forever to be ignored. They are not included in the Plan.

It is undoubtedly a perverse society that allows such policies to be promoted year after year. Even Norman Le Brocq’s Island Plan of 1983 (when he was President of Planning) perpetuated the same prejudiced aims in the name of protecting the countryside and he offered no solutions to the housing dilemma. It is just the same with Freddie Cohen, 25 years later.

Mike “Birdman” Stentiford might look superficially like one of our “Team Voice” on this cartoon image but we shall be pleased to receive his contrary reply and to post his side of the conservation, environmentalist argument.

Submitted by Thomas Wellard.


Anonymous said...

and people say your not bringing news to Jersey! Yeah and there was no abusing children as well thanks for the wakeup call.

Keep up the fine work...

Anonymous said...

Who would have thought, Mike Stentiford a machiavellian schemer out to oppress the working class. Get a grip.

Anonymous said...

For some of us it is not simply housing. People need clean air, fresh water and nutritious food. As the world struggles to feed itself and depletes its reserves of fuel it is going to be increasingly hard to source these outside of the island. An integrated planning policy, that took in to account the need to sustainably provide all the above basics would show up our current planning policy for the partial and failing thing that it is. No net immigration, and working the land for the production of wholesome food for the local market is essential.
That won't resolve the decades long mad policy of populatiosn growth, but it would take the foot off the accelerator before we go over the cliff edge.

Anonymous said...

You're not doing yourself any favours by attacking much loved public figures!

If the "15,000 people who live in lodgings" (proof?!) are enduring such a hard time, why not raise the issue to those who are REALLY responsible - not the NTJ who are trying to preserve what's good about the island?!

And while you're at it, maybe those 15,000 will join you in your protest.

Yeah. Right. As if.

Anonymous said...

I was surfing at the time the genteel middle classes were lineing up and drove away as fast as I could. I perceived this as a JEP orgaisied event, demonstrating their power to mobilise a large section of the community for ultimately sectional purposes.

I think the interviews below were excellent. It shows what we are up against in terms of false consciousness. Working people, a young woman and a young man, with a future ahead in an increasingly populated island divided by wealth into the haves and have nots. One is aware of the absurdities but wont engage to change it, the other with idelaised dreams - living in town but aspiring to a country residence, yet probably ultimately will be living in lower middle suburbia up on the highlands above the plain.

No one cares about the 15,000, unless they seek to care for themselves and start protesting. More likely they will leave and be replaced by others.

Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

The J E P coverage LINE IN THE SAND

Interesting the photos of individuals that had taken part, I could pick out no less than five people in that article and guess what they all live in the west of the island and own there very substantial properties.

Anonymous said...

Look at who brands the NTfJ & who else they take care of:


A straight line from Geomarine?


A great pity the NTfJ concern themselves only with cosmetic issues.

Anonymous said...

It should be obvious to anybody that the existing Planning Laws and policies are more than adequate to protect the countryside and these have been in place and developing since the 1960's.
Jersey's truly substantial planning void is with St Helier.
Until a comprehensive policy and plan has been agreed for the future of St Helier Town that addresses all housing, commercial, open space and parking needs then there is absolutely no point in rezoning bits of the countryside or drawing up any other policies or restrictions. The future for the whole Island depends totally upon what will happen in St Helier over the next 10-20 years so Freddie and his friends should stop wasting our money and Mike Stentiford and his chums should apply their energies to the problems of St Helier if they truly have the best interests of the whole Island in mind.

Building in St Helier may not be the answer to any problems but without a comprehensive plan that works, how shall we know?

Anonymous said...

We should not be kidded that "line in the sand" was a spontaneous expression of public opinion.
The National Trust for Jersey is being marketed by the "Beach communications consultancy" just like any other product in the market place. They are obviously very successful and claim to have raised "a public political and business awareness" for their client Trust with a membership of 2000. They also represent such clients as HSBC and they were persuaded to be sponsors for the Trust's "Coastline Campaign" from which the "line" project stemmed and it is tied in closely with the "Plemont campaign" too which also raised £67,000 and a petition of 10,000 signatures in just 4 weeks.
This is political organising on a worrying scale and whether it is an appropriate activity for the charitably based Trust is a matter for the membership but it should cause the general public to wonder about this manipulation of political opinion to influence planning or other government policies.
The consultants have also recruited Jersey Dairy and Jersey Telecoms to be partners with HSBC in this campaigning activity so that the merging of commercially sensitive and possibly conflicted businesses with organised public opinion raises all sorts of questions and concerns.

On the National Trust's own website the most recent accounts (for 2002)show that the non profit making organisation is the largest landowner in the island and has a portfolio of very valuable properties and healthy reserves of funds. By any stretch of the imagination it has the potential to become a very powerful political force in Jersey. Is that desirable?

Anonymous said...

It's rumoured that the next stage of the Trust's "Coastline Campaign" is to have the new incinerator removed from the St Helier sea-shore location and built at their St Mary HQ instead.
If true that would be a true sign of the Trust's dedication - perhaps Mike Stentiford could confirm if the rumour is correct?

Anonymous said...

Jersey prohibits the importation of cows milk. That is to protect the dairy industry. We don't export milk. Anyway it is too expensive for others to buy. 15,000 people boycotting milk and within 2 years the dairy industry will be gone. The will be sold off. And what of the fields then?