Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Government Information and Public Inflammation.

Ignorance of the law is no defence in court yet we are all expected to understand, and abide by, the ever changing laws of Jersey. But how are the general public supposed to keep up to date with the enormous amount of legislation that is enacted or proposed?

We at Team Voice have been battling with the Scrutiny System for proper access to hearings and to be able to video report the proceedings but this is just the tip of the information iceberg.

Our government is obsessed with putting information online and not printing paper copies of reports etc. (supposedly to save costs) but many people do not have access to computers for one reason or another and the official website is a confusing mess.

The whole question of access to information in Jersey needs looking at afresh and the long awaited Freedom of Information Law should help to promote change if it is enacted.

But even the most basic provision of signs outside of official and government buildings is deplorably inadequate and physical access for many is often discriminatory because of steps or lack of other facilities such as hearing loops (for the deaf).

This video introduces the problem so far as government information is concerned.

In part 2 we will look at the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) to see how information can be properly delivered (with a smile). We shall also be looking at Parish Halls and other places where information should be available to the general public.

Both the States Greffier and the head of the Information Service at Cyril Le Marquand House declined to give us an interview.

Submitted by Thomas Wellard.


Debbie said...

It's about time Jersey (and the States of Jersey in particular) stepped into the 21st century and dealt with problems such as access for the disabled, decent sign posts, publically available information, etc. It's a nightmare for locals to get around and find exactly what they want, so God help visitors to the island or those in wheelchairs!

Anonymous said...

"Many people don't have access to computers" Are you having a laugh?!?!? Even my gran can work one!

Anonymous said...

I am a granny, I have a computer but I know a lot of grannies who don't, I know a lot of grannies who cannot afford a computer, let alone the cost of internet access. I also know a lot of younger people whose family resources do not stretch to paying for computers and internet access.

No he is not having a laugh he faces the realities of life, especially for those less fortunate than you.

Anonymous said...

Incidently "Are you having a laugh" because someone is elderly does not mean they have lost their marbles and are unable to grasp new technology. What an insult to your grandmother, sounds like you regard her as six pence short of a shilling with your exclamation mark 'even my gran can work one!' I am sure she could teach you a thing or two and I am not talking about computers. You sound like one of those establishment half wits.

Anonymous said...

In the UK, it is a legal requirement for certain types of building to be accessible by everyone.

These include governmental buildings, and any building which provides some essential service, e.g. chemists, public toilets, shops which sell food.

Is there no such law in Jersey?

Anonymous said...

The old UK Disability Discrimination Act was never extended to Jersey and anti-discrimination laws are still millions of miles away here because Minister le Marquand won't treat it as a priority for funding.

The Jersey building regulations help in a small way when new buildings are being built or substantial alterations are being made to existing ones but so many government and official buildings are ancient edifaces which those with power are reluctant to alter visually or practically.

Access to information is just as much about being denied access to a report or stats as it is about being able to enter a building and to be able to hear and see and report on the
proceedings. The Freedom of Information Law is really just another aspect of disability discrimination prevention. The denial of information is disabling to everybody.

Anonymous said...

Did anybody notice that Guernsey has managed to find the money to appoint a Disability Officer rather than waste it on UK/Irish Forum jollies?

Shall Jersey ever manage to do the same and when oh when will either Island sign up to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities? There is a whole world of change beyond these shores - wake up Jersey people - get engaged and stop prattling on about the same old selfish trivialities.