Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Screw Scrutiny.

We at the Voice received our usual Friday afternoon e-mail from Scrutiny on 20th November. It gave the schedule of Scrutiny hearings open to the public for the coming week.
On Monday 23rd at 9.30am Dept Mike Higgins was due to chair his Economic Affairs Scrutiny Hearing and Team Voice’s ace reporter was duly sitting outside Le Capelain Room at 9.20 am waiting to be admitted.
He was still waiting there at 11.15am and was only then admitted to the “public hearing.”

Such is the degree of contempt that our so called elected representatives have for the Jersey public.

Of course our man protested and several pathetic apologies were offered but it was just the arrogance of these people who consider themselves so superior once elected to government. Not only was the delay of nearly 2 hours totally unacceptable but permission to video record the proceedings was also refused by Deputy Higgins who invented an instant policy decision that this was “not really a public discussion” at all whilst in the same breath he protested how he was a defender of Team Voice’s battle for the right to report such meetings!

This Scrutiny Panel was composed of Deputies Higgins, Southern, Wimberley, Macon, Labey and Shona Pitman. Tim the Scrutiny Clerk took notes and advised.
Southern left at 10.40. Pitman left at 11.15 and returned at 12.20pm. Higgins left at 12.30pm for a funeral. The meeting terminated at 12.45pm.

Our man then asked if any of the Deputies would give an interview to Team Voice about the proceedings and was refused. Deputy Pitman became very angry and invented another instant policy that if we wanted an interview then we should have applied formally at the outset so that the Panel could authorise it.

Unfortunately this is not a unique example. A previous Scrutiny panel was cancelled altogether with no prior public advice but our complaints were never answered. At another hearing 3 of us sat outside for 40 minutes waiting to be recalled into the public part of the meeting and then were told it was our own fault!

The irony is that Scrutiny Panels claim that they want to engage with the public. They seek public participation yet they would rather pay to print their own “Scrutiny News” or advertise in Mike Vibert and Deputy Le Claire’s “Isle” freebie rag than allow bloggers like us to write honest and critical comments on their activities.

Make no mistake, these Scrutiny people are dangerous because they officially occupy a political void.

Yet, at this meeting there were revelations that the Airport is likely to go bust next year and that air traffic controllers are being phased out, that airport employment practices probably do not follow agreed procedures and that an absurd security fence was not required around Guernsey or Gibraltar airports.

It was also suggested that the Economic Stimulus package was often farcically inept and that many young Highlands Students were merely a parking exercise to disguise unemployment figures, that there was no definition of “small company” and that Enterprise Board staff were often incompetent to advise applicants and that the whole Jersey Enterprise project enjoyed a huge budget and needed a thorough and critical examination etc etc. There were also allegations that the States Assembly had been told “lies” in response to Scrutiny’s Depositors Protection Scheme Report.
There is much that needs to be reported on at such meetings, but the public and the “accredited press” are seldom present.

These assembled Deputies had rambled on for 3 hours without achieving much except munching through the chocolate biscuits and deciding that there were so many matters that needed to be scrutinized that they did not know where to start – and that the Intellectual Property Rights proposals were just too complicated for them!!! And they would need to employ outside consultants to make sense of the 200 pages proposition that lay before them and that a whole new Department of Intellectual Property might be needed just like JFSC in the near future………….If The Voice had been granted an interview or been allowed to video record the proceedings we could have added to general public knowledge and awareness. But this is the crazy world of scrutiny and it’s more about building up political careers than educating the plebs.

One refreshing incident did occur though. Whilst our man was sitting and waiting for entry into this Papal enclave a charming lady of a certain age appeared and asked “Can I get you anything?” Our man replied “A Colt 45 with 6 rounds would be useful” but the lady replied “I can only get you a glass of cold water”.
Our man thanked her for her kindness but explained that this would not achieve the desired result…..

Submitted by Thomas Wellard.


Anonymous said...

Not one of these Deputies was at the Jersey Human Rights Group 1st AGM yesterday either.

We must be optimistic though - the next election is only 2 years away so we can start the planning soon.

Ian Evans said...

Well done again VFP, bringing in the true news. Munching biscuits ! bringing in people to read typescript for them ! Colt 45's, with ammo ! Gee Wizz, didn't realise our elected representatives worked so hard ? The cold water however, may have actually been useful, as a means with which to wake up our politicians !!!

Anonymous said...

I was at a meeting where Mark Foskitt challenged Deputy Duhamel over the airport costing us a fortune. He suggested we close the airport one day a week. The deputy had asked for radical solutions but blanched at this modest proposal. The States have plans to spend over one billion pounds revamping the harbour area. Deputy Duhamel wanted the money spent on a bridge instead.

GeeGee said...

A law unto themselves. Perhaps we need a Scrutiny Panel to scrutinise Scrutiny Panels!!

A complete, total, utter waste of time.

Anonymous said...

Usual silence from States Members.
Will any of the members named in your blog defend themselves? Does anybody actually speak for the Scrutiny system itself - who runs it?

Anonymous said...

Presumably every household receives a copy of the glossy, full colour "Scrutiny Matters" (not "News") 8 page publication - which was recently delivered in a plastic bag along with adverts for De Gruchy's, Abbey National and Sure texting?
I wonder how many people bother to read it or to respond to the many invitations to participate in the scrutiny process?

Perhaps Deputy Le Herissier or Senator Shenton will respond here and give some more accurate data about public responses and they might like also to answer the criticims raised on this blog?

Hello - hello - anybody there?

Sarah Ferguson said...

I can't answer for other panels but we are all having a course in how to chair a meeting shortly!

Anonymous said...

£43k a year and you don't know how to chair a meeting properly??

What the hell are we paying you for?

Anonymous said...

Posted by Deputy Maçon:-

Dear Team Voice,

Thank you for your e-mail.

I will be happy to answer your questions. However, only once you have posted an accurate account of what occured during the last economic affairs scrutiny meeting. I would not be happy to pass on information to be posted to a source that was happy to report inaccurate events. As your team is a pressure group with it's own bias.

For example Deputy Labey as vice chair did agree to give an interview but did not want to be video recorded - of which Mr Dun became quite upset, began shouting and arguing with Deputy Pitman.

I offered at the beginning of the session a tea/coffee to Mr Dun. Which he declined in not the most polite of ways might I add. He commented that he felt it was bribery. I thought it was good manners.

Nor is there any mention of the incident when Mr. Dun burst into the room and shouted at the panel.

Re the Isle - the panel noted the option of the Isle for future use but make no decision about using it. Nor did we make a preference choice between your blog site or the Isle.

I could go on but I’ll stop there. I believe that your team’s objective is better reporting. Not more bias reporting. I am sure that you will correct any omissions and inaccuracies.

To use your earlier term “Thank you in advance for your co-operation”.

Kind regards,

Deputy Maçon

Ps. Also if you could spell my name correctly when using it I would be most grateful.
Pps. I will copy and post this onto your blog site and I am sure that as your team has trasparency at it's heart that it will be posted and unedited.

Anonymous said...

Well Deputy Macon it looks like team voice have done what you asked........your move?

Anonymous said...

Deputy Macon does not explain why your ace reporter was kept waiting till 11.15 to be admitted to a public meeting that was advertised for 9.30 start?
Not surprising if he was a bit agitated surely ed!

Anonymous said...

How do you spell Dun one N or two?

Anonymous said...

Careerism is a problem among the ranks of our nacent opposition politicians. The reason is the lack of accountability to the electorate or indeed to a party organisation that helped to get them elected.

What is needed is an organisation grounded in civil society that can hold these politicians in check, reminding them of their ultimate loyaties and guiding their priorities. Their loyalty seems to the to the "Cosy Club", the best gentleman's club in Town, and to its mores.

Do they really want to change anything in Jersey Society or is it all just about enjoying the status?

The hostility of Scrutiny to those who would seek to know more reveals that they have become too comfortable within a system that allows them a degree of liberty and tax payers money to do so, provided they do not threaten the status quo.

Don't get too comfortable; you will need us come the next election and we might be supporting others who promise to be loyal to those who elected them and not the the future career.